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Wonderful sentimental comedy
It's good to see that the Tora-san series, which claims to be the longest running film series ever and has been wildly popular in its native Japan, has finally become available in North America with this AnimEigo box set of the first four films of the series, "It's Tough being a Man", "Tora-san's Cherished Mother", "Tora-san, His Tender Love", and "Tora-san's Grand Scheme". . The films might be described as formulaic sentimental comedies: in every episode the bumbling anti-hero Tora-san, a traveling salesman who supplements his income with occasional con games, visits his relatives in Tokyo, meets a damsel in distress whom he helps and falls in love with, and ends up not getting the girl and taking to the road again. But the formula doesn't become tedious -- these are the sorts of films where part of the attraction is seeing how they are going to handle the formula this time. The box set is excellent, with an informative booklet, excellent DVD transfer, and a choice of basic subtitles or fuller ones including some notes to explain things non-Japanese viewers probably wouldn't get. Not great art, but very entertaining. Suitable for family viewing, except maybe for occasional profanity. I think everyone would enjoy these, especially people who have any interest in contemporary Japan. It's to be hoped that AAnimEigo will continue issuing the series in this format.
Kuruma Torajiro is an asshole. He cheats, he's selfish, he doesn't look at the feelings of those around him. The second Tora-san film actually surpasses the first. There are laugh-out-loud moments followed by emotionally sad tears, throughout, with outstanding results, to me. Possibly the best in the Tora-san series. (which I've still seen only a few.)
In the second film in the series, Tora-san finds out that his mother, who he can't recall any memories of, is still alive. As friends tell him to put hings aside and finally meet his mother, the man who doesn't seem to "feel" has to go through a lot of emotional ups and downs to finally meet her face to face. The confrontation scene is just unforgettable stuff.