“Tokyo Sonata” (2008, Kiyosawa) essay

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A)It all starts with the fact that the head of the family Ry%u016Bhei Sasaki, who is a director of a department in a big Japanese company, gets fired all of a sudden. His wife Megumi, and his two children (two sons), Takashi and Kenji, are unsuspicious of the real state of things, but they feel that something has changed. The matter is complicated by the fact that the hero cannot take up a position, equal to his previous one, and does not agree to a simpler job. In addition, he carefully hides his plight from his family. Ry%u016Bhei, as a housefather in a typical Japanese family, feels ashamed for his failure and believes that the truth would explode his reputation. Every day Ry%u016Bhei pretends to hurry at work, while he actually queues up in the employment center. Unable to find a decent job, he passes the time at a local park with his ex-colleague, sharing handouts and repining at their unhappy lot.  

Ry%u016Bhei's ex-colleague, who gets involved in the same situation, says: “We are on a ship that is sinking. And the boat was embarked with women, children, and those who are younger”. These words reflect the desperate status of the out-of-work. Ry%u016Bhei`s previously prosperous family begins to literally fall apart when the latter loses his job. Ry%u016Bhei`s wife suspected her husband has been turned out of work, when one day she sees him dining in the park with his colleague. However, Megumi prefers to turn a blind eye and let things rip. Ry%u016Bhei's companion in misfortune is strays jobless for more than three months. Rather than searching for a way out, he commits suicide and kills his wife. This means that he was unable to turn over a new leaf, to bear with his new standing.

Ry%u016Bhei`s eldest son, Takashi, eventually sets his sights on doing military service and holds his ground in his decision. The tension grows when Ry%u016Bhei nearly kicks Takashi out of the house. Takashi argues that he chose the army because he wants to protect his family, whereas Ry%u016Bhei does nothing to protect them, and the latter understands that his son is right. At last, Takashi achieves his aim. Kenji, the younger son, cherishes a dream to play the piano, while his father disallows him to take piano classes. Nevertheless, Kenji secretly studies the instrument, and his teacher discovers great potential in her young student. She advises his parents to send Kenji to a school of music. Ry%u016Bhei, being blinded by the grief of his misfortune, beats Kenji.

After all, Ry%u016Bhei secretly gets a job as a janitor in a big shopping center. One day, a robber penetrates their house and, found nothing to steal, he took Megumi as a hostage. The burglar allows his victim to go to the shopping mall, where she encounters her husband at work. Megumi wants to run away and start off with a clean slate, but realizes that her family needs her. This very night, Kenji relives a hard time behind bars, because he attempted to leave his city without a ticket, but soon he returns home, as well as his parents. In the end, the family leads a new life – they are happy together now.    

B) The movie relates the hard time of the Japanese workers, who become gradually replaced by the Chinese. China's cheap labor reached stubborn Japanese workers, taking away the stability of local residents, who only yesterday thought that they and their families had a great support of the irrefragable law of labor. The Chinese superiors show the door to the factory workers and office workers that are totally unaccustomed to changes in position. Such state of things condemns the Japanese workers to depressive frustration and eternal standing in line for scanty unemployment benefits and miserable food.

Global trends are invading the usual production process and family relationships, school life and customs of life, putting to test the traditional Japanese mentality. This Japanese mindset has been establishing for centuries, and now it conflicts with the realities of a new life that twisted things around - the ‘homespun’ idyllic silence was ‘harmed’ in the first place, replaced with stressful moral disaster, when it is unclear where to go and how to be.

The social orientation of the story is obvious - the world of the "low ranker" has been already described by literary classics long time ago. The insignificance of the hero against corporate monsters and their rigid rules is depicted with tragic clarity. The director is thorough in depicting his analysis of the inner world of a man, who turned to be on the sidelines, and to whom it is not easy to admit to his household the truth, which in his own eyes looks like a defeat. He hardly restrains his temper weariful of the difficulties, he aggravates them by refusing to give up his customary status. That is why, those breakdowns, which he allows himself, are no more than self-punishment, his own impotence. He has clearly lost his war.

Social misery is intimately bound up with the relations with intrafamiliar relations, which are also devoid of harmony. The dictate of father is at the end of tether. His categoricity destroys the most valuable – his bounds with family. In the end, each in his own way finds oneself in the agony of grief. They believe that a blessed tomorrow does not wait for them, they give preference to moans and consciousness of fallacy of their former deeds and life in general.

As to the plot, each of the characters in the movie faces a serious challenge, and everyone is looking for its solution through making a painful decision. Each of them tries not to repeat the mistakes of others, learn not to die and not to give up, backing away from the old rules, and accepting new ones. These rules are dictated by the changeable life that carries these people to a pathetic final, while dying at the sound of the piano. 

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