This is review number one hundred and thirty. As a rule, I’ll review a movie every time I hit a 10th number. I also wanted to watch small time movies because I wanted to try something different. Anyone can review the K-on movie so don’t worry about that. The movie I’ll be reviewing is Showa Monogatari. It’s a simple movie released in 2011. Yes, it’s simple and maybe a bit too simple. Let’s read on.
Showa Monogatari is about the Yamazaki family who lived during the 1960s. The story is about life during 1964 when the Summer Olympics was held in Japan. It’s also about the struggles and strong bond of the simple family.
Taking the Pants Off
This is a simple movie. There’s really nothing big going on in this anime. It’s a straight forward movie about the Yamazaki family during the 39th Showa Era or 1964. This was a significant year for Japan because this was the year Japan hosted the summer Olympics. This was a big thing for Japan because this was more than just the Olympics. It was also a way to reintroduce themselves to the world after cutting themselves off during WWII. The setting of the anime isn’t really that important and only subtle 1964 references are thrown here and there. I wish they did add more though because the movie is too plain and too straightforward.
The anime is about the family dynamic of the Yamazaki’s. It’s a laid back story full of typical family problems. It has the over protective dad, the rebellious children, the caring mother and every other typical family issues. There’s nothing grand in the way of the story and nothing really remarkable happen. It just nicely painted how a typical family interacts daily and it shows just how much they love each other. If I’d break the story to bits though, there’d be two plot points to the movie.
The first one, and the one that had more focus, is about the daughter of the family going through her rebellious phase. It’s nothing remarkable. Yuuko Yamazaki, seventeen years old, is in love with this guy and she goes out with him without telling her family. They started worrying when she would say “I’ll go to the library” and then come home late into the night. Given the era, it’s natural that her parents would be mad because seventeen year old girls should be proper ladies and girls shouldn’t date so young. It’s pretty understandable for her age though to act out against her parents and do things she isn’t allowed to do. Nothing blows your parents top than your daughter dating an older guy.
The Yamazaki family is patriarchal household and the father heavily scolds his daughter. The mother keep things calm and the daughter would just brush her parents off. Like I said, nothing awesome happens and the plot is pretty predictable.
The second plot point, and a slightly raised one, is the changing times and the father’s craft work is being threatened by change. His son insists to move on with the times but his father doesn’t budge. I guess this is where the 1964 setting is more prominent as well. Aside from the Olympics, the rise of western culture (the Beatles and the Ivy League fashion movement) and the introduction of bullet trains were among the changes happening during those times. The traditional era is slowly being invaded by technology and global culture. The lives of the Yamazaki family are being affected by this monumental change.
The 1964 reference is pretty small though. This was a missed opportunity because this was a nice way to spice the anime up a bit. 1960s was also the decade Sakamachi no Apollon is set in and it was able to use it to give the anime some personality. It featured Christianity, foreigners walking the street and the heavy influence of the western culture. In Shouwa Monogatari, everything is pretty unspectacular. Sure it had bullet trains, the Olympics and western influences but it doesn’t really transport you to the era. It’s most just there as a backdrop for the story to function in. It’s such a shame because anime movies need to separate itself from regular airing series and they do so by being grand and awesomely conceived. This movie had none and it felt I’m watching a low budget anime series from 2002.
The story made a nice comeback in the end though and the theme of family togetherness is nicely displayed. It doesn’t matter if your parents yell at you or if your daughters are turning into a grade A slut. At the end of the day, they’re family and family stick together and weather any storm. The story was sweet and I appreciate the subtle approach to something so simple and very relatable. That’s the main strength of the anime as well. The way you can relate to the characters and the family dynamic makes it a treat to watch the anime. It also proves just how strong a family bond is that viewers can relate to a 1960s family.
Sight and Sound
The character design is plain. It’s so very plain that it feels very low budget. There is no outstanding look on the characters and they wear pretty standard outfits. This is another missed opportunity for the anime because it’s also a nice way to spice things up a bit. Looking back at Sakamachi no Appolon, the character design is very unique and the fashion sense of the era is very distinct. The characters in the anime just have enough of a look to differentiate themselves from each other.
The anime was pretty heavy in CG though. There are some scenes where the CG was really used effectively like in the city scenes and some of the scenic shots. It’s very stiff though and the movie could’ve gone on without it. It’s not like it improved the quality of the animation. I don’t really expect much from a small time studio I hardly ever hear pop up. What the hell is “Wao World” anyways?
I didn’t notice the soundtrack. There was also nothing big in this department and once again, a missed move from the anime. It’s a goddamn movie. It should feel grand and epic. The credit music was nice though. It was sentimental and it had a pretty sweet sound to it. Other than that, I barely felt the soundtrack.
4/10 “It’s plain and plain comes off as weak and weak is not really something you’d want to watch.”
The movie is decent. It had a nice story albeit predictable and lacking some workable conflict. The use of theme was also nice but it had mediocre animation, soundtrack and use of the 1960s setting. You’re better off watching another family themed anime movie.