|Index||2 reviews in total|
There is always room for another dog movie given that they're after
all, Man's best friend, with enough touching plots cooked up to keep
the legions of dog lovers happy and in unison that their pet canines
would likely possess similar qualities in loyalty, helpfulness and just
looking adorable since the camera captures all the best angles. wasao
could have been a dog lover's dream movie, but instead it's more of a
story of the local inhabitants of a small sleepy town that comes alive
through a series of slice of life incidents.
From the get go you know that this is an engineered piece of work that perhaps tried too hard. There's a cycling event (you'll learn later on that it's part of an annual marathon) that the towns folk lined the streets to cheer the cyclists on, only for Akira (Masaki Izawa) to drop his red ball that his pet dog Shiro plays with, and for the dog to instinctively run after it, getting in the way of the event of course. Then Mom just had to run after the dog also instinctively as well, only to be knocked down by a van. Seriously, if an event of that nature on a straight road is in progress, any vehicle if allowed on the road, won't be travelling at that kind of speed to not see anyone stepping out, or for that matter hitting with such an impact it becomes life and death.
So Akira banishes his puppy to some relatives in Tokyo, only for the pup to escape one day, and trek back to what was his home. Insert shots of cute puppy rummaging through thrash for sustenance, getting drenched in the rain, and simply taking all the miserableness in its stride just to make it back to its owner. By the time it gets back to the town, it's all grown up into one large hairy furball, hence its nickname Wasao, but like a lover jilted once and still holding onto a candle, worships its master from afar, blaming itself for causing Akira's Mom a long term stay at the hospital.
And that happens in the first few minutes of the film. The rest of Wasao flits from character to character, scene to scene sometimes in too carefree a fashion, introducing to us a trio of senior citizens (Sabu Kawahara, Mansaku Fuwa, Koichi Ueda) who decided to check off a bucket list item by participating in a triathlon, a (fake looking) bear on the loose wrecking havoc in the agricultural town and a hunter (Takashi Sasano) engaged to hunt for it, who turns out to be somewhat of a lost subplot that went nowhere except to set up something very expected in the closing arc of the narrative, practice drumming sessions that I would have loved to see more of as it featured some infectious beats, only for a very hastily edited segment of a procession being all that came out of it, and a man (Masahiro Komoto) whose participation in the mentioned triathlon turned out to be a comedic spin no thanks to a lady who pledged her hand in marriage should he come in the best.
On the canine front, there's a restaurant lady who owns her own brood of dogs, bringing in the theme of life and death with one of her dogs nearing the end of her life, while another is pregnant, and to a certain degree, this lady (actress Hiroki Yakushimaru) turns out to be quite the main character for her discovery of Wasao/Shiro, her attempts to befriend it, and ultimately figuring out its identity, coupled with being in the thick of the action when looking for a missing Akira who had ventured off trying to cycle his way to Tokyo.
Wasao suffered from having too many characters in it for its own good that on one hand showcases the very kampung feel where everyone in town knows everyone else in the close- knitted community, but on the other relegated the dogs in the show to the usual shots that capture cuteness, and seriously, no self-respective dog film can ever do without shots of a dog running at top speed along a long beach/road, which Wasao contains with aplomb. There could have been a fine balance in its narrative sharing screen time between man and dog, but in this case, the focus was clearly on the human stories, and the other dogs featured in the film stole the show from Shiro who had to just look expectant and hopeful for that recognition from its once owner.
There were many mentions by the characters that Wasao/Shiro had a funny look, that it was ugly yet charming in its own way. I didn't think the dog looked ugly at all, though it had enough fur on it especially in its mane to resemble a white lion. Kimba this is not, but that shouldn't deter any dog lover from having a go at this film. For the rest of us, steer clear if you cannot stand predictability.
One of the most impressionable dog associated films that will strike
many people's minds is probably Hachiko. It even has an American remake
under its belt. Following that blockbuster success of Hachiko in Japan,
many other dog associated movies emerged in the 2000s such as Quill
(2004) and 10 Promises to my Dog (2008). It seems like there are really
many dog lovers out there in Japan! And here comes the busu-kawa (busu
= ugly; kawaii = cute) Wasao into the picture
the similarity between
Wasao and Hachiko? Both are local Japanese breed, Akita Inu!
However, Wasao and Hachiko do not share any resemblance, be it the physical appearance or in terms of the box office ticket sales. Despite Wasao's (the real deal) growing popularity with its frequent appearance on local television programs cannot secure the movie a seat in the top three positions of the box office ticket sales. The Japanese probably know better; they knew that the Wasao's behaviours would be more interesting to watch without the constructs of a movie.
To be absolutely blunt, Wasao is just an untrained dog with seemingly mysterious personality. It seems fitting for the plot, but the plot itself is really bare. It is a story worth 10 minutes, being told in 2 hours. Implication: the movie is painfully long and draggy. It would have been more bearable and enjoyable if the movie had more focus. Should we be impressed with the dog's loyalty? Or should we feel for the characters in the story?
That leads on to the next point, which is the lack of character development. As the story unfolds, everything just carries on as it is, as though it has reached a plateau. Unfortunately, there is no climax that one can look forward to as well. Yes, simply a plot that lack depth and development! There is a considerably more exciting scene in the movie, when Wasao took on a big black bear. Wasao's heroic instincts are awaken as he uses his might to overcome and protect the little boy. The outcome is predictable and ridiculous!
Well, one thing Wasao does attempt to do is to entertain, by having 3 old quirky uncles going all out to revive some action in the quiet town. Sorry to disappoint, but even that is also a lacklustre attempt to tickle the viewer. Another point worth credit is probably the framing of the town featured in the movie, Ajigasawa. It is filmed beautifully, projecting it as an ordinary yet intriguing little town.
All in all, the 116 minute long film turn out not to be the most entertaining and enjoyable film in its genre, pretty forgettable too. At least the person watching it (or bent on watching) would not have to prepare many packets of Kleenex!
|Ratings||External reviews||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|