Amazing Lives of Fast Food Grifters (Tachiguishi retsuden) (2006)





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Mamoru Oshii's Tachiguishi Retsuden attempts to convey the entire dietary history of Japan via CG animation. ("Tachiguishi" refers to the Japanese concept of "stand and eat," and includes not only traditional hamburger joints, but indigenous beef-and-rice stands found only on Japanese soil.) The underlying concept of the motion picture rests on Oshii's endless quest for the "perfect fast food," and revolves around his conviction that one can shed light on lifestyle and culture by evaluating what individuals consume during a particular period of time. The director thus uses dietary intake as a lens into the Japanese culture, mindset, and way of life -- and as a context for interpreting Japanese history, from the post-WWII era through the late '80s. The "Fast Food Grifters" of the title (who appeared, fleetingly, in the director's previous works, such as Urusei Yatsura and The Red Spectacles) are those who devise crafty means for getting away without paying for "tachiguishi." They embody the heroes of Oshii's film and reflect his satirical view of Japanese society. Aesthetically, because Oshii found both live action and traditional animation incapable of fully exploiting the film's subject, he chose an alternate, third route. The director employs a highly unusual combination of elements that the press release refers to as "3D-CG recreation of a documentary drama of a fictional post-war history staged in a small theater and performed as a simple paper puppet show." In other words, Oshii (notorious as a visual maverick) grounds the motion picture in mockumentary stylistics and approach, but even the seemingly "authentic" archival film clips that he includes are in fact artificial, staged, and created for the sake of the film. He also employs a technique called "superlivemation," whereby real people were photographed, the photographs were digitally processed, and the images were then animated -- a process that took over 20 steps, but yielded a thoroughly unprecedented visual style. Oshii adapted the work from his own novel. It stars Kenji Kawai, Katsuya Terada, Shinji Higuchi, Shoji Kawamori, Toshio Suzuki, and Kenji Kamiyama. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi
Animation , Comedy , Special Interest
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