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Tatsumi celebrates the life and work of Yoshihiro Tatsumi--a manga pioneer who transformed the genre with cinematic inspiration and psychological depth. His youthful passion for comics blossomed into a means to support his family in postwar Osaka--but he became tired of producing whimsical children's tales like those of his idol Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy). In 1957 Tatsumi redefined the manga landscape with an adult-oriented genre that grappled with the darker aspects of Japanese life, which he called gekiga (dramatic pictures). In Tatsumi, Singaporean filmmaker and former comic artist Eric Khoo (Be With Me) brings Tatsumi's 2010 graphic memoir A Drifting Life and five of his classic stories to vivid, stunning life. An inventive animated tribute to a groundbreaking artist, the film is as gorgeous, shocking and darkly funny as the works themselves.
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Top Customer Reviews
I was confused at first. I did not understand that director Choo had inserted Tatsumi's short stories in Tatsumi's biography which was the main narrative. The short stories each had a different graphic style from the main narrative, even a title, but I was dense and didn't really get it until the end. So I want to watch this a second time and savor the short stories and the historical biography.
I enjoyed the graphic style, perhaps a limited budget, but the director transcended any limitation such as he might have had. Using different styles for the main narrative and the short stories is pleasing. I found it soothing and it held my interest. I was very satisfied but I am an artist and I was watching this to learn about another artist.
The people who rated this one star missed it. It went over their heads. If the renters did not have Amazon Prime and purchased an unsubtitled version then they would be doubly confused. I had subtitles with Amazon Prime version and thoroughly enjoyed this at the end when it finally dawned on me what I had seen. That's why I want to see it again. It is short, only ninety minutes but it is a rare overview of an artist who transcends comic books. Tatsumi tells gripping human stories. It is literary fiction period.
So now that I have had this introduction, and in all fairness it introduces only the life work of Tatsumi (and postwar Japan), it doesn't tell the whole story I also want to read Tatsumi's stories themselves as he wrote and drew them. And I thank this brilliant movie for introducing me to the profoundly human stories that transcend Japanese culture. Tatsumi is a vastly underrated artist.
I recommend you watch this film with an awareness of its unusual narrative and short story interspersing and your satisfaction will be greater. As will your appreciation for the artistry of Tatsumi.
Except the main storyline that works as a frame story (narrated by Tatsumi himself), the contents of his comics, largely set in the post-WWII economic boom and modernization, are all dark and adult-themed, mainly about those who are lonely and isolated. The voice of five short segments (“Hell” “Beloved Monkey” “Just a man” “Occupied” “Good-Bye”) is mostly by the Japanese actor Tetsuya Bessho, whose voice acting is just OK.
The style of animation itself is very close to that of “cutout animation” or “flash animation,” and using computer graphics the 2D-style animation captures the hand-drawn touch of the source material very well.
Having said that, I was not impressed with “Tatsumi” very much, probably because the film, despite its beautifully colored animation, gives so little insight into the man and his works. I know this is not a documentary or a school lecture. “Tatsumi” is more like director Eric Khoo’s love letter to the artist. That is fine with me, but this letter, which is a bit too passionate, does not tell me why we should read his manga.
I have to add a few things. Some part of the film’s editorial review is misleading. It is true that the term “gekiga” – word rarely used today in Japan even among manga fans – was coined by Tatsumi, but he is not the only manga creator who contributed to establishing this subgenre. One may remember such names as Takao Saito (“Golgo 13”), who is briefly mentioned in the film, and Kazuo Koike (“Lone Wolf and Cub”), both of whom are obviously more famous.
The animated film will serve as a good introduction to the world of the artist (who, unlike Saito and Koike, is nearly forgotten in Japan now).
One important thing for those who do not understand Japanese, this is a documentary, but also what the sub titles do not mention, is that mixed in the documentary are some of his most popular stories. It took me about 30 minutes to get this fact, after that it was a very good film.
There were wonderful moments throughout, but I was very disoriented by the storytelling. For most of it I thought it was another artist talking about Tatsumi, and only understood (but not really?) that it was actually all about Tatsumi and showed only his work. But wait.... did it-- Or was this just another artist illustrating his life? I really don't know what I watched, but thanks for giving me something to research properly?