Tatsumi

"Very Good"

Tatsumi Review


Singaporean filmmaker Khoo uses animation to explore the life and work of gekiga pioneer Yoshihiro Tatsumi. The film is visually gorgeous and packed with strongly emotional moments, although it doesn't quite hang together.

With the publication of his first manga comic in the 1940s, Tatsumi was spotted as a rising star. But his material was far to adult-oriented for the more child-friendly manga genre. So he created an all-new genre, gekiga, darker and more realistic comics aimed at adult readers. It takes quite a few years before he achieves fame, as he works in the shadow of his idol Osamu Tezuka. Now a beloved figure at age 75, Tatsumi says he still has worlds he wants to draw.

This narrative is interrupted times for five of Tatsumi's fictional stories, each of which hinges on a bleak twist of fate, like eerily realistic Twilight Zone episodes. Hell follows a boy photographer into the aftermath of America's WWII nuclear attack. Beloved Monkey centres on a young guy struggling to find his purpose in life. Just a Man is about a husband who embarks on an affair out of anger at his annoying wife. Occupied looks at a comic artist who turns to porn when his career hits the skids. And Good-bye follows the ill-fated affair between an American G.I. and a Japanese woman who has given up on her future.

With frank depictions of violence and sexuality, each story's darkly unexpected turn sends chills down the spine. And filmmaker Khoo stresses the emotional resonance in both the stories and the less-engaging biographical segments to explore the fleeting nature of success. Using a variety of expressive comic-book styles from Tatsumi's work, the animation blends colour, black and white and sepia images, both still and moving, while adding uncanny depth, texture and light.

The way the imagery quietly shifts is breathtaking. Although the jarring structure, a mopey musical score and Tatsumi's somewhat ponderous narration undermine the spiky character interaction. So the film feels both melodramatic and over-reverent. But it's fascinating to see how Tatsumi's somewhat gruelling stories sprang from events in his life. Fans will love it. And newcomers will be inspired by this introduction to a remarkable artist.



Tatsumi

Facts and Figures

Run time: 96 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 4th April 2012

Budget: 800

Distributed by: New Video Group

Production compaines: Infinite Frameworks Pte. Ltd., Zhao Wei Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 17

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Eric Khoo

Producer: Tan Fong Cheng, Eric Khoo, Phil Mitchell, Freddie Yeo

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