naomi kawase's Kya Ka Ra Ba A

Aaron Gerow gerow at
Wed Nov 7 20:48:57 EST 2001

>Here is review in French of Naomi Kawase's self-documentary. This film is
>worth discussing. I found it thoroughly engrossing and sincere, though
>seemingly wily in parts. A paradox...

Thanks for the review.

This has been yet another example of the Japan vs. Europe divergence I 
often notice.  WHile I don't want to set up a unified Japan versus a 
unified Europe, there have been a number of Japanese films which, 
although they have been largely criticized in Japan, have found critical 
success in Europe (or elsewhere). Kawase's Suzaku was one example, and it 
seems Kya Ka Ra Ba A is another.  While I supervised the English 
subtitles for the latter, and thus would want to reserve my comments on 
the film, everyone who has seen it that I know in Japan did not like the 
film.  Some have gone so far as to say it is her worst film, if not a 
sign that Kawase has definitely lost her touch.  Yet it was very well 
received in Locarno and not a few European colleagues have voiced their 
admiration of this film.

Why this huge discrepancy?  Is it simply a matter of different tastes?  
Or perhaps differences in understanding? (I do think there's a difference 
in understanding films through the original language and through 
subtitles.  One of the problematic scenes in Kya Ka Ra Ba A, for 
instance--the tattooer scene--sounds very fake and staged to some because 
the Japanese is so very stilted.  Yet seen through subtitles, perhaps it 
seems better.)

Any thoughts?

Aaron Gerow
Associate Professor
International Student Center
Yokohama National University
79-1 Tokiwadai
Hodogaya-ku, Yokohama 240-8501
E-mail: gerow at
Phone: 81-45-339-3170
Fax: 81-45-339-3171

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