Director: Seiji Tanaka
Written By: Seiji Tanaka
Starring: Mebuki Yoshida, Yoji Minagawa, Yoshitomo Isozaki, Makoto Hada
Format: On Demand, Dual Format BluRay/DVD
Age Rating: 15 (BBFC)
Licensed By: Third Window Films
Release Date: Out Now
Having graduated from the prestigious Tokyo University, Kazuhikos’ life has remained unchanged ever since he was in high school. With a lacklustre attitude towards life, he still resides in his childhood bedroom, living at home with his folks and has no job or career. However after attending a local bathhouse one night, he runs into a woman who remembers him from high school. Soon after Kazuhiko begins working at the same bathhouse, alongside a fellow new employee named Akira. With a new work routine and money in his pocket, Kazuhiko begins to enjoy his new lifestyle. That is, until he returns to work one night to discover that the bathhouse also runs as a murder grounds for the Yakuza.
I must admit, I highly enjoyed this film. Although it was only filmed in 2018, it had a classic feel to it that reminded me of older mob films from the 80s and 90s. The whole idea of using a bathhouse as a place to murder certain individuals was ideal and simplistic, as it will always be easy to clean and was less likely to come under suspicion by the authorities. I highly enjoyed that idea by the script writer. It’s not something I have seen before in film, but when I sit back and think about it – I’m amazed I haven’t come across it before. It’s a film well worth rewatching time and time again, also very easy to recommend to people. The overall plot was believable, well able to keep my attention and the acting was pretty good. Especially considering how Kazuhiko character begins to gradually develop.
So we begin with our lead actor Kazuhiko, whose enthusiasm towards life was heavily lacking. Even after attending the prestigious Tokyo University, which would have set him up for life if he were to apply himself to any company. He simply sat at home, he didn’t seem to get any grievances from his parents who seemed to just accept the situation for what it was. Perhaps this was Kazukio’s overall attitude his entire life, or maybe he was simply burnt out, I’m not rightly sure. Soon after he reconnects with high school classmate Yuri, he seems to push himself forward to getting a job at the bathhouse she visits. Thus he begins to have feelings towards her and soon enough they are seeing one another outside of the bathhouse. Kazuhiko’s life drastically changes even more when he uncovers the shadier side of the bathhouse. Shockingly he soon becomes involved in the whole business and even manages to put up a fight when it comes to staying involved. Truly Kazuhiko has an unusual sense of morals. We meet an interesting bunch of characters throughout this film, from those that live under the radar and have walked dangerous paths in life. To simple, hard working individuals like Kazuhikos parents and Yuri. It’s a dark humored comedy, with the beginnings of a sweet coming of age romance thrown in, but not forgetting the danger with the sinister Yakuza element.
So we have blood and gore, a number of gruesome deaths in a bathhouse, as well as knowing how they dispose of the bodies without any evidence. This single element is what I have an issue with, as the way they disposed of the bodies should have left a vulgar smell that would have been vented out of the building and noticed by the neighbourhood. This apparently wasn’t even an issue in the film and was never addressed. Moving on though the most action packed scene was certainly the skirmish on the staircase, well executed and we really did get to see the full set of skills that Akira possessed. And like all decent action films, there was the inevitable twist at the end. Making this a thoroughly enjoyable watch and one I would definitely return to in the future.
Behind the scenes
Q&A with director and cast
Melancholic short film
Melancholic is the debut film from director and writer; Seiji Tanaka. With the film having debuted in Japan back in 2018, it wasn’t long before it gathered a large following. It has won several awards over the years, including the ‘Japanese Cinema Splash Best Director Award’ at the 31st Tokyo International Film Festival, and the ‘White Mulberry Award for First Time Director’ at the 21st Far East Film Festival. As well as several Audience awards and a Jury Award from several other events and screenings. Out of the entire cast, the most experienced actor has been Makoto Hada, who played Kazuhiko’s boss Azuma in the film. The rest of the cast have very little information available online regarding their careers, but each of them gave very good performances throughout.
It’s thanks to Third Window Films over in the UK, that we have gotten a physical release of the film. Collected together in a dual format box, with the film available on both BluRay and DVD. As well as the option to stream it online as well. You can click the link below to buy your copy today and support the industry that we all love in these trying times.
Buy it now from: http://thirdwindowfilms.com/films/melancholic/