Tuesday, February 26, 2013


A light comedy directed by Shinobu Yaguchi and features one of my favourite young Japanese actors Gaku Hamada, along side Yuriko Yoshitaka and Japanese rock icon Mickey Curtis.
I first noted the slightly built Gaku Hamada in the 2006 release Golden Slumber. He had the small supporting role of an anarchic teen who lived on the streets. And then I saw in him in a main role in Ahiru to Kamo no Coin Locker, which features what I consider to be one of the best feature film portrayals of what it is like to be a foreigner in Japan. Then a comedic role in 2012's Space Brothers. But Roboji features Gaku in a more subtle comedic role that reminds me of Australia comedies produced by Working Dog Productions such as The Dish.

The female lead is played by Yuriko Yoshitaka, who I first saw in her film debut in the collection of short films for Otsuichi's ZOO. She appeared in the short film, Seven Rooms, which is possibly my favourite Otsuichi short story. So I'm always aware of her, when she pops up in various film roles and TV dramas. In Roboji she appears as a robot obsessed university student looking to pursue a career in robotics.

But the man who steals the show is the man inside the robot, Mickey Curtis, veteran of over 70 films, race car driver, rock and roll icon. Anyone one is a fan of King Crimson style progressive rock should check out Mickey Curtis and the Samurais 1971 album Kappa.
Back to Roboji, there is one thing that annoys me about the translation of the title of the film into English as Robo-G. The Japanese title, which I've just translated phonetically, is the portmanteau of robot and jiji (japanese for old man or geezer). It's a clever and fitting title. I'm not sure there is a suitable replacement title in English, but resorting to Robo-G feels like giving up too much, so I've stuck with the transliteration Roboji.

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