Original title: 茶の味
Director: Katsuhito Ishii
Runtime: 143 minutes
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
BEST ASIAN FILM
Fantasia Film Festival 2005
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2005
The Haruno family live an easygoing life in rural Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo. Yoshiko (Satomi Tezuka) refuses to be an average housewife and works on an animated film project in their home while her husband Nobuo (Tomokazu Miura) is a hypnotherapist. Their son Hajime (Takahiro Sato) is an avid Go player having a rough time with girls and puberty, not unlike the lovestruck Uncle Ayano (Tadanobu Asano) who visits to get his head straight. Meanwhile, their daughter Sachiko (Maya Banno) is mainly concerned with why a giant version of herself is following her around.
Taste of Tea offers a glimpse at a modern Japanese family, weaving together various individual storylines whilst playfully mixing the quotidian with the surreal. With a background in animation, director Katsuhito Ishii flexes a casual disregard for realism, employing early digital compositing effects to reflect both the external and internal world of his characters. While otherwise family-focused the film demonstrates the pervasive influence of the Otaku subculture in Japan, featuring elaborate (and ridiculous) cosplay and an extended detour into the halls of storied animation studio Madhouse, with an appearance from Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno. What Ishii ultimately shows is that you can still find sincerity through artifice.
This film is part of the programme Y2K Dreamz. The full programme for Y2K DreamZ can be found here.
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