Vault Shorts #10 (Digger, Nanachan, The Snow King) (T)

The tenth entry in the column deals with Japanese shorts

Digger (2017) By Kengo Yagawa (15.3 Minutes)


There is a fierce competition going on every night in the woods, a secret ritualistic meeting of disenfranchised businessmen. Each armed with a shovel, their challenge is to dig for as long as they can. The nightly competition attracts a nameless and silent protagonist, an office worker who spends his days fantasizing about the act of digging. He must face some fierce competition in order to make it to the top and beat the man who silently watches over the event.

"Digger" is an example that in the world of the absurd, anything can become a competition. This short film, which features no dialogue and a lot of digging is more fun in execution than concept. The late night rituals the men perform in the short makes it feel as if this is just an event that has been and always will be, steeped in a deep tradition with synchronized dances and an unspoken language that you have to dig to prove your worth. Although it is hard to imagine this drawn out into a feature length, as a short film it is very successful at creating this odd, funny yet endearing culture of a bunch of businessmen digging holes in the middle of the forest while being cheered on by their peers. "Digger" is a comedic gem with an ideal runtime that is bound to entertain audiences.

Nanachan (2018) By Tatsuya Nishimoto (20.2 Minutes)


Two outcasts who enjoy spending their time talking about sex and making crude jokes, find themselves interested in a fellow graduating student in "Nana-chan". When one of the boys decides to make a move on her before they part ways after graduating, he professes his love by offering to fulfill a disgusting act. 

"Nanachan" offers up some good comedic moments with oddly scripted character interactions and an entertaining yet disturbing conclusion. The comedic element seems to come more from the absurdity of the characters' actions and dialogue, but the interactions don't seem realistic, making "Nanachan" feel more like an absurd comedy, and within that definition, it falls short of being consistently entertaining. 

For the majority of the film, the interactions just feel awkward and not in the way that you can derive humor from; stilted, forced and unrealistic. I normally don't comment on the quality of subtitles, but to ensure to not sell the content short, the subtitles on the short provided had many errors, noticeable through grammar and word choice, and a lot of the humor may have been lost in translation. The act of trying to figure out what was actually being said, obviously added to any frustrations I already had with the film.

The Snow King (1993) By Shunji Iwai (22.3 Minutes)


Once living with aspirations of becoming a famous idol, a woman named Yasuko finds herself in debt. In order to keep living the life, she has become accustomed to, Yasuko begins to take out large loans which only further add to her financial worries. She hides her debt from her partner whom she is trying to build a life with. After a pregnancy scare though, she is forced to face her boyfriend and her debt to try to live a reasonable life.

Aired on TV as part of a series, the quality is what you would expect for a made for TV short film. The structure of the film is also reminiscent of a TV program, first showcasing itself as a documentary on the struggles modern day adults face when it comes to financial problems in an unstable economy. The film evolves pretty quickly into more of a character piece and we learn about Yasuko's past, and how her ambitions have become stagnant and she finds herself struggling to get by while being slowly overwhelmed by increasing debt. Her story does not just act as a cautionary tale but builds a very sympathetic and relatable tale. Shunji Iwai has would go on to critical success with films such as "Bride for Rip Van Winkle" and "All About Lily Chou-Chou" and coming across his earlier work will deepen the appreciation for his latest efforts. Being restricted by budget and time, it is not his most memorable work, but it has a certain charm which is very engaging.

COMMENTS

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2017,2,A Company Man,1,A Love,1,A Man Vanishes,1,A Simple Life,1,A Tale of Love,1,A Whale of a Tale,1,About Elly,1,Adam J. Symchuk,6,Adam John,1,Aditya Vikram Sengupta,1,Adriana Rosati,3,Alex Oost,1,Amir Masoud Aghababeian,1,Anand Singh,2,Andrew Thayne,1,Anime,1,Anna Bliss,3,Anshul Chauhan,2,Anurag Basu,1,Aqerat,1,Arang,1,Ariyuki Shinbo,1,Armour of God,1,Arrow,1,Article Films,1,Asghar Farhadi,1,Asha Jaoar Majhe,1,Asian Classics,9,Aya Itabe,1,Bad Poetry Tokyo,4,BAMY,1,Bangkok Nites,1,Bangladesh,1,Ben Stykuc,3,Bengal,1,Billy Joe,1,Bloody Muscle Builder in Hell,1,Bollywood,1,Branded to Kill,1,Breathless,1,Burma,1,Burning Birds,1,Camera Japan,5,Children Heaven,1,Chinese Visual Festival,1,Chu Yuan,1,Chungking Express,1,Close-Knit,1,Coffeemates,1,Colette Balmain,2,Confessions,1,Crows Zero,1,Cyrano Agency,1,Daisuke Miyazaki,2,Ddongpari,1,Deadly Outlaw: Rekka,1,Deepak Rauniyar,1,Digger,1,Ding Shen,1,Documentaries,5,Don Anelli,2,Double Life,1,Edmund Yeo,1,Eiji Uchida,1,Erotic Diary of an Office Lady,1,Exploitation,3,Fabricated City,1,Faye Wong,1,Features,7,Festivals,1,Filmdoo,3,Fireworks Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?,1,Flying Fish,1,Forgetting Vietnam,1,Good -Bye Silence,1,Haunters,1,Helsinki Cine Aasia Festival 2018,1,Hidden Gems,14,Hindi,1,Hirokazu Koreeda,1,Hong Kong,3,Horror,2,I-Lin Liu,3,ICA,3,Imran Firdaus,1,In this Corner of the World,2,Indonesia,2,Interview,1,Interviews,19,Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan,1,Inugami,1,Iran,4,Jackie Chan,2,Jagga Jasoos,1,James Mudge,1,Japan,50,Japan Cuts,8,Japan Filmfest Hamburg,1,Jithin K Mohan,1,Joe Odagiri,1,Jonathan Wilson,6,Joo Ji-hong,1,Journey of the Tortoise,1,Jun Tanaka,1,Jung Yoon-suk,1,Junichi Kajioka,1,Katsuya Tomita,1,Kengo Yagawa,1,Kenichi Ugana,1,Kim Hyun-seok,1,Kim Min-suk,1,Kingyo,1,Kiyoshi Kurosawa,1,Koji Wakamatsu,1,Kon Ichikawa,1,Konrad Aderer,1,Krzysztof Pietrzak,1,Kwak Kyung-taek,1,Kyoko Miyake,1,Kyriacos Kyriacou,2,Lady Snowblood,1,Laos,1,Like Father,1,Like Son,1,Lim Sang-yoon,1,Lists,5,Little Big Soldier,1,Love,1,Lowlife Love,1,Mahde Hasan,1,Majid Majidi,1,Malaysia,2,Maria Georgiou,8,Masanori Tominaga,1,Masaru Konume,1,Masato Harada,1,Matt Cooper,4,Mermaid,1,Midi Z,1,Midori Impuls,1,Miwa Nishikawa,1,My Dad and Mr Ito,1,Myanmar,1,Nanachan,1,Naoko Ogigami,1,Naomi Kawase,1,Nepal,1,News,1,Nicholas Poly,2,Nikola Cekic,1,Niwatsukino Norihiro,1,Nobuhiko Obayashi,1,Nobuhiro Yamashita,1,Non-fiction Diary,1,NYAFF,4,Old Boy,2,Omar Rasya Joenoes,2,On The Line Festival,2,Orson McClellan Mochizuki,1,Osaka Asian Film Festival,3,Pai Kau,1,Palatpol Mingpornpichit,1,Panos Kotzathanasis,38,Park Chan-wook,2,Park Ki- hyung,1,Park Kwang-hyun,1,Pedro Morata,3,Pieter - Jan Van Haecke,1,Psychic,1,Pumpkin and Mayonnaise,1,Rabbit and Lizard,1,Railway Sleepers,1,Randy Mckenzie,2,Reviews,30,River of Exploding Durians,1,Roger Lee,1,Ryuki,1,S. Korea,10,San Diego Asian Film Festival,3,Sanjeewa Pushpakumara,1,Sankha Ray,5,Satan's Slaves,1,Satoshi Kon,1,Sayandeep Bandyopadhyay,1,Score,1,Sea Fog,1,Seijun Suzuki,2,Shaw Brothers,1,She's the Boss,1,Shigeru Umebayashi,1,Shikhar Verma,2,Shikhar Verna,2,Shim Sung-Bo,1,Shinichi Fukazawa,1,Shinji Iwai,1,Shinji Sômai,1,Shinya Tsukamoto,2,Shôhei Imamura,1,Shoot for the Contents,1,Shorts,8,Shuna Iijima,1,Sidi Saleh,1,Sinophone,1,Sompot Chidgasompongse,2,Song of the Week,17,South Korea,6,Sri Lanka,1,Still the Water,1,StudioCanal,1,Subenja Pongkorn,1,Suffering of Ninko,1,Sunao Katabuchi,2,Susumu Hirasawa,1,Tadashi Nagayama,1,Takashi Miike,2,Takuro Nakamura,2,Tetsuo the Iron Man,1,Tetsuya Nakashima,1,Thailand,5,The Boy and the Beast,1,The elephant and the sea,2,The Inugami Family,1,The King of Pigs,1,The Road Home,1,The Road to Mandalay,1,The Salesman,1,The Snow King,1,The Sower,1,Tokyo Heaven,1,Tokyo Idols,1,Tom Waller,1,Toshiaki Toyoda,1,Train to Busan,1,Tran Ham,1,Trinh T. Minh-Ha,3,various,2,Vietnam,1,Violated Angels,1,Vital,1,West North West,2,Whispering Corridors,1,White Sun,1,Wiman Rizkidarajat,1,Woman of the Lake,1,Woo Ming Jin,1,Yamato (California),2,Yang Ik-june,1,Yeon Sang-ho,2,Yoshishige Yoshida,1,Yoshiyuki Kishi,1,Yosuke Takeuchi,1,Yu Aoi,1,Yuki Tanada,1,Zhang Yimou,1,Zuairijah Mou,1,
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Asian Film Vault: Vault Shorts #10 (Digger, Nanachan, The Snow King) (T)
Vault Shorts #10 (Digger, Nanachan, The Snow King) (T)
The tenth entry in the column deals with Japanese shorts
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