Tora-San, an itinerant peddler who is thrown out of his father's house twenty years before but reconnects with his aunt, uncle and sister Sakura. Tora wreaks some havoc in their lives, like getting drunk and silly at a marriage meeting.
In an effort to get him to settle down, Tora's family attempts to arrange a marriage for him. Unfortunately, Tora's goodwill backfires once again, and he leaves for a remote hot springs ... See full summary »
Tora-San, an eccentric and resourceful tramp, is always cheerful. Although he is an orphan, he decides to go back home after a long absence. He thus sees again his sister Sakura Suwa, who ... See full summary »
Hadn't seen one of these for years. They used to play regularly at our Japanese-only cinema, the Kokusai, now sadly a Denny's. So, watching the DVD of this the second in the series, while not exactly a Proustian experience, forces me to compare memory with fact. I remember a goofily lovable innocent. I find though no innocent, no child-man, but a man adept at conning both others and himself. Tora's patter as fortuneteller: "I'm wrong nine out of ten times. Come on! Take a chance on that one! Take this chance!" Even with self-interest at stake, he externalizes his thought, albeit in the best light. Even one in ten would be a miracle, so sounding honest, he's still conning, whether he knows it or not. What makes Tora Tora is exactly that. Unlike most of us, and unlike his sister's family to whom he comes home at least once in each episode, he voices every whim. His internal censor's broken or never existed. Often an episode's turning point has him physically ill for no reason other than that he's gotten into a state where he can't or can't figure out how to voice whatever notion or desire is the crux of the plot. The family − sometimes it can seem as if all they do year after year is sit there in their open-to-the-street shop waiting for his next return − communicate with sparse oblique chatter. Not one of them has an inner life we can more than speculate about.
Anything but childlike, Tora's not a drunk but he drinks to drunkenness. He's offended by his mother's profession, but (slight spoiler) he'll join her as a bird of the feather. Tora's always and ever an adult. Like many screen or drama fools, he one-ups the better educated, in this film a doctor and, though it's give and take, his own former teacher. The summer I saw this (2002), I finished reading El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha, 1,100 pages I'd read before only in translation. When Tora's healthy, he's Sancho Panza, the embodiment of zero restraint. R.H. Blyth, in Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics as well as four haiku compilations with commentary, finds Sancho the embodiment of Zen. Look up Sancho and Quijote in Blyth's indexes to these volumes, and I think you'll find Tora in the passages he quotes.
Director Yoji Yamada recently proved the intricacies of the Torasan series are real, by directing the wonderful and serenely lethal Twilight Samurai. A not bad, though not unqualified, touchpoint for Tora is the protagonist of Punch Drunk Love.
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