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I Want to Be a Shellfish (1959)

Watashi wa kai ni naritai (original title)
On a post-war peaceful day in Japan, Toyomatsu Shimizu, a barber as well as a good father and husband, is suddenly arrested by the Prefectural Police as a war criminal and sued for murder. ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Kumi Mizuno
Daisuke Katô
Susumu Fujita
Tadao Nakamaru
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Storyline

On a post-war peaceful day in Japan, Toyomatsu Shimizu, a barber as well as a good father and husband, is suddenly arrested by the Prefectural Police as a war criminal and sued for murder. According to the accusation by GHQ, Toyomatsu "attemped to kill a US prisoner", which was nothing but an order by his superior and failed after all with hurting the prisoner by weak Toyomatsu. Also, Toyomatsu was driven to corner at the trial by the fact that he fed the US prisoner some burdock roots to nourish him. Toyomatsu believes nothing but being not guilty, but he is sentenced to death by hanging. Prior to the execution, Toyomatsu writes a long farewell letter to his family, the wife and the only son: "If I ever incarnate, I hate to be a human being any more.... Oh yes, I would like to be...a shellfish living on the rock-bottom of the sea." Written by Harpo99

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Drama | War

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17 March 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

I Want to Be a Shellfish  »

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2.35 : 1
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Version of Watashi wa kai ni naritai (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A forgotten Japanese classic.
3 October 2015 | by See all my reviews

It's probably a tough subject for Americans to deal with: the Japanese war criminals of WWII. But it is a fact that the higher-ups got off easy while those of lower rank got the shaft. Such is the case of Toyomatsu Shimizu, a small-town barber who is drafted toward the end of the war and ordered by his superiors to kill a US POW with his bayonet. It turns out the POW is already dead, but Shimizu is sentenced to death anyway. We then follow his desperate attempts to get his sentence commuted. Furanki (Frankie) Sakai is an interesting choice for the lead role; I've only seen him in comic roles in other films. He does a superb job here. The director, Hashimoto, was primarily a writer. He co-wrote most of Kurosawa's films. His only other directorial effort was 'Lake of Illusions' in 1982. What this film may lack in style it makes up for in narrative and emotional power. It is absolutely heartbreaking. This is truly a forgotten Japanese classic. 10/10.


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