Kakuto-20031

by Andrea Grunert

Acclaimed actor, artist and model Iseya Yūsuke has directed two films – Kakuto (2003) and Fish on Land (Seiji: riku no sakana, 2011). After this brief experience behind the camera, he apparently preferred to continue his acting career and concentrate on the Rebirth Project, which he launched in 2009 (1). However, the two films which he directed deserve closer scrutiny.

Fragmented structures
The main protagonists in both Kakuto and Fish on Land are young men in their early twenties. Kakuto, based on a screenplay written by Iseya, focuses on one tumultuous night in the life of Ryō (Iseya) and his desperate quest for a cigarette packet full of ecstasy which he was supposed to sell for a local yakuza boss but which he has accidentally lost. In Fish on Land, the adaptation of a novel by Tsujiuchi Tomoki, the unnamed main protagonist recalls a summer twenty years ago when, as a final-year college student, he went on a cycling trip round Japan. Kakuto, which could be translated as “awakening person” or “awakening city”, was produced by Kore-Eda Hirokazu, with whom Iseya worked as an actor in After Life (Wandafaru raifu, 1998) and Distance (2001). Some of Kakuto’s narrative and formal aspects are reminiscent of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting (UK, 1996), in particular the episodic structure, the character of the psychopathic gangster, the scatological language, the recurring use of extreme close-ups and of lenses that distort the image to suggest hallucinations and dreams. The sequence in which Ryō vomits, the camera remaining for an inordinately long time on the disgusting liquid he has disgorged, recalls images of body liquids and excrement in Trainspotting, but as Claude R. Blouin put it: “Japanese cinema gives a great deal of room to everything that oozes from the body, a sign that, being alive, it is a factory of constant rejection, a place of metamorphosis: urine, blood, stools, semen, sweat, tears.” (2) Iseya’s directorial debut is by no means a mere copy of Trainspotting and can be fitted into the framework of a new Japanese cinema with a penchant for experimentation, as in the work of Sono Sion, Sogo Ishii, Miike Takashi, Miki Satoshi, Aoyama Shinji and other young filmmakers.
Kakuto follows Ryō and several other characters, most of them only loosely connected with each other. In a series of subplots they meet accidentally or just appear by chance at the same place in a suburb of Tokyo. This is the case with the two yakuza in the red sports car which Shinji (Kase Ryō) steals from the car park outside a supermarket where Makoto (Takano Hassei) and Naoshi (Itō Atsushi) are waiting for their friend Ryō. The two men in the car are the film’s comic duo, contributing an element of slapstick-like humour.
Kakuto starts with a voice-over narration by Ryō before the other characters – including Makoto, Naoshi and Shinji – are introduced. There is no connection between Shinji and Ryō, whereas a group of male students are acquainted with him but play no role in the subsequent narrative. Their presence and talk about sex and fun contributes to the portrayal of young and rather well-off males like Ryō in contemporary Japan. They also talk very much about Ryō, who is a mystery to them. Successful in exams but hanging around with yakuza, he is the epitome of coolness and therefore a kind of idol for them.
Other and more important characters are Tezuka (Terajima Susumu), the son of a yakuza boss, and his henchman Suzuki, with whom Ryō has some dubious business deals involving pornography and drugs. Nakamura (Kagawa Teruyuki), a police officer who is part of a team that observes Tezuka and eventually arrests him, is another character in the film whose story evolves parallel to the main plot about Ryō.
Apart from the first sequences, which take place a few days beforehand, Kakuto is concerned with events on the night before Ryō’s 22nd birthday. In Fish on Land, the frame is spatial rather than temporal as most of the action is set in House 475, a drive-in bar-cum-diner in the countryside. In the early 1990s, the protagonist (Moriyama Mirai). who is addressed as Traveller (3). has an accident while cycling that is caused by one of the customers at the drive-in. Instead of continuing his journey, he starts working at House 475 during this last summer before the beginning of a new phase in his life. He becomes acquainted with Shōko (Nae Yuki), the owner of the place, with its manager Seiji (Nishijima Hidetoshi), and with a group of young men who are regular customers at House 475 as well as with the little girl Ritsuko (Ihara Ryoka) and her blind grandfather Genji (Tsugawa Masahiko).

Get a life!
In the first and last sequences of Fish on Land, the protagonist, now an adult (Nikaido Satoshi), comes back to what remains of the drive-in, which has apparently been abandoned after the tragic events that took place there during his stay twenty years ago. In the long flashback that constitutes most of the film, he is depicted as a quiet young man, observing rather than playing an active part in the story. In Kakuto, Ryō, played by Iseya and in a more lively manner, is presented as an extrovert and happy-go-lucky young man. However, he behaves like a trapped animal after losing the drugs given to him by the yakuza, well aware that he must fear their murderous revenge. In the sequences in which he experiences the hallucinatory effects of the drugs he consumed in Tezuka’s apartment, he gradually loses control of body and mind. The squalid pedestrian tunnel where he collapses contributes to the impression of his degradation. Half-naked, wearing only his underpants in the wintry night, Ryō is closer to hysteria than to his former carefree self.
Kakuto starts with Ryō’s voice from the off talking about a recurring dream he has had since childhood and in which he keeps running “in an endless, monotonous landscape” (4). This dream becomes reality when he is chased by Tezuka brandishing a katana (the long sword of the samurai), which adds a comic dimension to the situation. Iseya’s approach to crime and violence is playful just as Ryō, whose life revolves around drugs and parties, is a nonchalant but nevertheless sympathetic young man. His credo is “Why bother living if it is not fun?” He shows some concern for the young women he finds for the yakuza, and he is eager to believe the lie that they will not be exploited as prostitutes. Apparently without financial problems, he enjoys life in a most carefree manner, and Iseya’s acting – his boyish grin and extrovert behaviour – emphasizes the character’s immaturity.
Traveller is spending a last summer of freedom before the end of his holiday, which also marks the end of adolescence. By contrast, the easy-going manner of the aimless young protagonists in Kakuto does not mask the disorientation of the young generation in the early 21st century as represented by Shinji, whose introversion and aggressiveness are almost pathological. Naoshi, however, no longer wants to run away, even though this is the advice Ryō once gave him. At the end of the film, Naoshi accepts responsibility for himself and his pregnant girlfriend, and Ryō turns out to be a very polite young man and not simply the wild and carefree young man he is presented as throughout the film.
A tragic event puts an end to Traveller’s stay in the countryside. In a voice-over, the adult Traveller comments on it: “And then I escaped to reality.” The reality he refers to is that of adulthood, and twenty years later, Traveller has joined the ranks of the working population and is apparently what could be described as a respectable member of society. He has escaped from the drive-in, which, located in the middle of nowhere, is presented a kind of enchanted place where, as a young man, Traveller was fascinated by the hidden desires and secrets of the people he met there.
Both films deal with adolescence and the path to adulthood. The troubled young Shinji, who is a kleptomaniac with a penchant for violence and self-destruction, also undergoes a change with the help of Nakamura, who discovers him collapsed in a phone box which he has just vandalized in an act of frustration. Shinji is amazed by the police officer’s genuine concern, Nakamura even wiping the mucus from his running nose.
Iseya’s concern is not the dangers of drug consumption or a corrupt society in which the economy and organized crime are closely linked. Instead, his films focus on the feeling of uncertainty and alienation, both in present-day Japan and in the modern world as a whole. “But Japan is totally fucked,” says Ryō from the off at the beginning of Kakuto. Naoshi and Traveller decide to change their lives, whereas Seiji tries vainly to escape from his violent past. Genji says about him that he has too much social conscience. According to the old blind man, humanity can only survive by being less sensitive. These and other reflections on human behaviour and social conditions are addressed in the dialogues of both films. In Kakuto, the aquariums with exotic fish symbolize society’s insincerity – despite their transparency, they are a means to imprison the fish. In Fish on Land, Seiji reveals the hypocrisy of a couple – a man and a woman – who campaign for animal protection, pointing out that their big car and the perfume the woman wears represent a danger for animals and the environment.

Creating emotions
Iseya is however less interested in a philosophical discourse or psychological portrayals than in revealing his characters through mise en scène devices to which the actors, including Iseya himself, contribute. As an actor, Iseya communicates in a highly convincing manner the physical and psychological pain Ryō undergoes when he fights against the effects of the drugs he has taken. His face and body reveal his fear when Suzuki questions him about the missing drugs. Iseya’s portrayal of Ryō may have a narcissistic dimension, but this is however perfectly in tune with the immature character he portrays. The title of Fish on Land is a clear reference to Seiji – a secretive person who does not talk much and seems out of place. He behaves like a fish out of water and only seems happy when playing with the little girl Ritsuko. The exquisite lighting of the shots in which he disembowels a boar in a nocturnal setting also contributes to the air of mystery that he exudes. Nishijima Hidetoshi’s nuanced body language makes this character’s sadness and loneliness perfectly tangible.
The central drama around Seiji is not revealed until the last third of the film, and the first two thirds give a succession of impressions from the everyday life of the people at the drive-in. Kakuto is structured in a more sophisticated way in which the different subplots converge. Shinji finds the Lucky Strike packet with the ecstasy that Ryō has dropped. Later, when Shinji is making a phone call, Suzuki forces him to leave the phone box, where he then finds the missing drugs. Despite its highly elaborate structure, Kakuto does not feel over-constructed. Instead, it has a smooth, playful rhythm, a fluidity close to human life, something that characterizes Fish on Land even more strongly. In both films, there are a-chronical shots and scenes that are not story-related, and Fish on Land in particular has many beautifully framed landscape shots as well as images of the empty drive-in, of insects, the sky, the moon, and water.
Fragmentation is also expressed by extreme close-ups. In other shots, the camera, which is very mobile in Kakuto, remains close to the human bodies, a technique that reinforces the aesthetic and emotional space of the films. It is also a means to limit the field of vision, and it creates an effect of fragmentation, as does the lighting. In Fish on Land, the contrast between light and shadow and between day and night contributes to the feeling of mystery and supports the film’s latent tension, emanating partly from the suppressed desire between Shōko and Seiji. In Kakuto, darkness sustains the idea of a nightmare into which Ryō is suddenly projected, but this does not mean that it creates an impression of bleakness. The night ends with moments of joy in which Ryō and his friends, now in possession of the missing drugs Suzuki found and has now given to them, can finally feast, drink, smoke and chat, quickly forgetting their previous worries. The hedonism of these young urbanites can also be understood as a normal part of adolescent life that will not necessarily prevent them from taking on the responsibilities of adulthood and accepting its conformism. Fish on Land does not simply end as a tragedy either. Ritsuko, whose forearm was severed when she was attacked by a serial murderer with an axe during that fatal summer, has recovered, and twenty years later she is a beautiful and self-confident young woman.
The awful night in Kakuto seems like a bad dream, but unlike the recurring dream he talks about in the opening sequence and from which he awakes with a cry, Ryō finds himself back in broad daylight and normal life. Iseya avoids any moral judgment of his characters, preferring instead to create vivid portrayals of young Japanese males, catching their moods and emotions marvellously. In Fish on Land, his subtle mise en scène allows the viewer to share the light-hearted moments of a summer trip as well as to sense the hidden desires and repressed memories lingering under the surface. If Kakuto is a mixture of adventure, fun and nightmare, Fish on Land has in addition a dreamlike quality that constantly challenges the idyll suggested by the beauty of nature. In both films, Iseya succeeds in revealing his characters’ feelings through cinematic devices, with the ordinary filmed in a way that takes into account the complexity of life in the 21st century. On the basis of this aspect of the two films in particular, I can only state that I would have liked to see more of Iseya behind the camera.

Notes
1 “The Rebirth Project” is a multi-faceted business inspired by the idea of sustainable development.
2 Claude R. Blouin, Au fil des métamorphoses : Journal de lecture, Montréal : Quota Bene. 2021, p. 101-102. [Author’s translation]
3 In the credits, the main protagonist is called Boku which means “I” or “me”. There are several words for “I” in Japanese, and they differ according to sex and/or age. “Boku” is mainly used by boys or young men.
4 Note that the character Iseya Yūsuke played by Iseya in Kore-Eda Hirokazu’s After Life talks about a similar recurring dream.

mifune ronin of the wildern

by Andrea Grunert

In the 1960s, the Japanese film studio system was in decline while television was becoming a strong rival. This situation also affected the career of Mifune Toshirō, who worked more and more for the new medium in the 1970s and 1980s. Mifune had founded his company Mifune Productions in 1963, and in the 1970s and 1980s, he started producing television series in which he also starred. This article deals with three of these series which transfer the jidai geki, to the small screen – Ronin of the Wilderness (Kōya no surōnin, 1971-1974, two seasons, 104 episodes, NET), Ronin in a Lawless Town (Ningyio-tei ibun: mūhogai no surōnin, 1976, 23 episodes, NET) and The Lowly Ronin (Surōnin makaritōru, 1981-1983, Fuji TV). Each episode in the first two series is 46 minutes long, and The Lowly Ronin consists of six films of 90 minutes each.

A hero for television
Ronin of the Wilderness and The Lowly Ronin are jidai geki (period drama) and are set in the early 19th century, whereas the setting for Ronin in a Lawless Town is the early years of the Meiji period (1868-1912), when the rule of the samurai had been abolished and Japan had re-opened to the world. It is in a very strict sense not a jidai geki, which are defined as tales from the Tokugawa era (1600-1868). However, the hero in the series is a former samurai, and there are many references to this warrior caste that had dominated Japan since the late 12th century. Moreover, its main character and also the characters played by Mifune in the two other series are very much influenced by Kurosawa Akira’s groundbreaking film Yojimbo (Yōjinbō, 1961). Like Kurosawa’s yōjinbō, Toge Kujūrō in Ronin of the Wilderness and also the hero in The Lowly Ronin are rōnin, masterless samurai who are travelling around in Japan. The main protagonist in Ronin in a Lawless Town is the yōjinbō, the bodyguard in the “Mermaid Saloon” in Yokohama, a bar with an underwater ballet as its main attraction.
The characters Mifune plays in these series share a number of other characteristics with the hero of Kurosawa’s film. In Yojimbo, the rōnin invents a name for himself, telling people that he is Kuwabatake (mulberry field) Sanjurō (thirty years). The main protagonist in The Lowly Ronin calls himself Shunka Shūtō (written with the Japanese characters for spring, summer, autumn and winter). A direct link with Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and its sequel Sanjuro (Tsubaki Sanjurō, 1962) is established in the sixth film (The Lowly Ronin: Betrayal at Yatate Pass/Surōnin makaritōru: Yatatetōge ni uragiri o mita, 1983), in which the protagonist says that his name is Hinoki (cypress) Sanjurō. In Ronin in a Lawless Town, the yōjinbō is simply called Mr. Danna. “Danna” can be roughly translated as “the master of the house” or simply “Mister”.
A further feature of the two films by Kurosawa that recurs in the three series is the rōnin’s walk. Walking with swaying movements and his shoulders hunched was largely the creation of Mifune himself. In the television productions, this walk is used by the actor as an identification trait. Kurosawa’s protagonist and those in the series are superheroes and essentially loners who prefer action to words. In the series, they fulfil the viewers’ expectation, which is to see Mifune in films in which the character he plays triumphs over his adversaries. Toge Kujūrō, Shunka Shūtō and Mr. Danna successfully take a stand against crime and corruption, giving the actor numerous opportunities to demonstrate his fighting skills.
The dividing line between good and evil which is very much blurred in Yojimbo is quite clear in the series, where their heroes do not share the nihilism of Kurosawa’s rōnin but are far more conventional figures, fighting against injustice and protecting the weak. They act in accordance with Kujūrō’s maxim: “Whenever I see weak people, I feel I must help them.” Embodying the Confucian principle of benevolence, these heroes defend peasants exploited by corrupt samurai or merchants threatened by yakuza. They rescue women sold to brothels and thwart politicians’ plots. The values of altruism, tolerance and solidarity may have been outdated in 1970s and 1980s Japan, especially in the light of the economic boom as well as new uncertainties and social problems. However, these three series with Mifune offered escapism from everyday worries and from a comfortable but boring life in a consumer society with no opportunities for adventure or heroism.
The figure of a powerful but selfless hero revitalized the ideal of a samurai at a time when it was being more and more challenged. Ronin in a Lawless Town is set in the period of modernization shortly after the abolition of the old and hierarchical class system with the samurai at the top. Mr. Danna still wears a kimono, hakama (trousers which look like a wide, pleated skirt) and the two swords worn by a samurai but wears a union suit under his kimono and a neckerchief. His hairstyle is a combination of the samurai’s topknot and western fashion. This hybrid external appearance symbolizes the mixture of elements in modern Japan – a combination of Japanese traditions and western influence. Despite this rather old-fashioned appearance, Mr. Danna is depicted as an open-minded man who has been to America and is familiar with western civilization. He speaks English and also translates the love letters of Europeans and Americans into Japanese. His open-mindedness is also illustrated by his plea for religious freedom (episode 9). However, Mr. Danna does not fight alone. Another important character in this series is Chidori Gennoshin (Wakabayashi Gō), an agent of the new government who squats in the “Mermaid Saloon”. A dandy dressed in expensive western clothes, he carries and uses a firearm. The two men fight side by side, but it is usually Mr. Danna with his swords who is more effective than the man with the modern weapon from America.
Ronin in a Lawless Town does more than simply emphasize that the values of the fast-disappearing culture represented by Mr. Danna are vital for the country. The series also has a strong didactic dimension, portraying Japan at a moment of radical change, as shown in the frequent street scenes of the bustling harbour town of Yokohama with its Japanese, European, Americans and Chinese inhabitants and/or visitors. Each episode focuses on a different step on the way towards modernization – the introduction of the telegraph and the postal service using stagecoaches, the construction of a water supply system of pipes, and the manufacture of ice cream. At the end of each episode, there is a comment on the innovation by a voice-over narrator. For Mifune, giving such information about Japanese history was clearly important. It also matched the policy of the television station NET (Nihon kyōiku terebi/Nihon Educational Television), founded in 1958 as an educational channel but from the 1960s on also producing fictional series.

Character traits of the heroes
Tradition is highly valued in the three series, but no tradition is immutable, and Mifune was well aware that change is necessary if tradition is to be kept alive. This also applied to the heroes he played in the television series. Although they are undoubtedly archetypal and therefore simplified characters, they are not unidimensional. Mifune’s performance is a considerable contribution to the creation of characters who remain human and appealing. The Lowly Ronin (1981) includes references to the hero’s past, suggesting that he has left his clan because he could not marry the woman he loved. When he returns to his home region thirty years later, he discovers that she blinded herself when he suddenly disappeared. A general shot shows the rōnin staring at the woman from a distance. He cannot bring himself to reveal to her that he has returned, and his body and face express very clearly his inner torment. In The Lowly Ronin: The Teenage Orphan Girl (Surōnin makaritōru: namida ni kieta mikka gokuraku, 1983), the rōnin is at first annoyed by the adolescent girl who pretends she is his daughter. However, in the few scenes in which they are shown living together, Mifune’s performance reveals his character’s suppressed desire for a homelife and his longing for love as well as showing the happiness he experiences in the girl’s company. At such moments of joy and tenderness, which are more frequent in Ronin of the Wilderness and Ronin in a Lawless Town, the character Mifune plays is in harmony with himself, and this is especially the case when he acts alongside children. The warm-heartedness of such scenes with the rōnin seems so natural that the viewer could almost forget that Mifune is acting.
Another element that successfully challenges schematization is humour. Ronin in a Lawless Town in particular is marked by a number of comical situations which add to the series from the year 1976 an element of humour that is close to parody. Mr. Danna’s laid-back attitude is an allusion to Sanjuro, a film in which the protagonist is shown in a series of shots eating and sleeping while waiting for the next event. Sanjurō’s behaviour shocks the young, hot-headed samurai, who are eager to fight. It is certainly not the kind of behaviour expected of an ideal samurai, who leads a life of frugality and action. In Ronin in a Lawless Town, Mr. Danna is, like Chidori, a freeloader who spends most of his time idly drinking sake, smoking, reading or sleeping.
Humour gives Mifune an opportunity to explore a great variety of facial expressions and enrich the character of Mr. Danna with his tremendous ability to suddenly change the expression on his face and his whole attitude – a talent so much admired by Kurosawa. When the eccentric Mrs Kitakōji, the owner of the “Mermaid Saloon”, suggests making a ring for Mr. Danna with one of the precious stones in the golden crucifix she has acquired, he abruptly takes his hand away from the cross, his calm attitude transformed into an expression of horror. This very quick emotional change reveals Mifune’s brilliant sense of timing and his attention to detail (episode 9).
This scene also reveals another characteristic of the rōnin played by Mifune in the three series: his asexuality. The series all illustrate the samurai ethos of abstinence in an almost exaggerated manner, and here too are reminiscent of Kurosawa’s yōjinbō. In Ronin of the Wilderness (season 1, episode 11), Kujūrō refuses his employer’s offer that he can sleep with one of the prostitutes in his brothel. As he says bluntly: “I do not like women.” In other episodes belonging to the same series, the hero’s decency is exploited as a source of humour. In episode 8, Kujūrō stays at an inn and takes a bath in a hot spring, where he is joined by a young woman. His face and body become rigid, expressing his embarrassment, and when he talks to her, he stammers. The invincible hero is suddenly plunged into a situation beyond his control.
In the three series produced by his company, Mifune was able to cast himself as the “good guy”, the ideal superhero with a heart of gold, and the characters he played were certainly also influenced by his own personality – his warm-heartedness and open-mindedness. However, the comical moments make it clear that he did not take himself too seriously, and this aspect of the heroes he plays produces highly enjoyable moments in the films.

36 chowringhee

„She wanted to warm herself,“ the people said. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, and how happily she had gone with her old grandmother into the bright New Year. (The Girl with the Matches by Hans Christian Andersen)

The aging Anglo-Indian Violet Stoneham is a teacher for literature. Her relatives and fiends have passed away or have moved to another country like her niece Rosemary. During the film, her brother will die too. The administration of the school where Stoneham works, demoted her. They say it is because of her age but some colleagues suppose it has to do with her ethnic belonging.

Her monotonous and lonely life she shares with her cat Sir Toby. A young couple brings for some time more diversion into her life. The young woman was once a student of Violet Stoneham. The young man pretends to be a writer who looks for a quiet place to write. While Violet Stoneham is working, the young couple occupies her little apartment. While the spectator soon questions the intention of the young couple (which seems to be rather on the search for a love nest), this constellation becomes soon a replacement for Stoneham´s family which does not exist anymore.

Later, when the young couple has married and has made a career, they hardly contact the old lady anymore. Once she shows up at their place unannounced and they try to get rid of her as soon as possible. They say they are just on the way to an appointment. After a sudden inspiration, Violet Stoneham prepares her much vaunted Christmas cake. She intends to put the cake as a surprise in front of the couple´s door because they are supposed to be not at home during holidays. The sceptic spectator begins gradually to be worried about the lonely lady. These two aspects of the the dreamy poetic and than a sober scepticism which we can feel in many films by Aparna Sen.

On this very day, Violet Stoneham reaches with her cake at the house of the young couple. A single close up of her face suggests that she has something seen which upsets her. This close up is followed by a slow camera movement towards the big window of the house. It is the window of the living room. The window is fogged up but the room is lighted. Many people are celebrating, singing or dancing. With one hand, Stoneham wipes a peephole on the foggy big window. And suddenly the peephole becomes a big screen. What the screen reveals appears as a projection of Violet Stoneham´s dreams, a party with friends, the opposite of her isolation and loneliness. But the party takes place without her and no one seems to miss her. There is the old phonograph, she gave to the young couple as a wedding gift. If she has noticed that a young man is mocking about the phonograph and the old fashioned records, I do not know. She stands like she is rooted to the spot.

Than the camera moves backwards and the big screen becomes again a small peephole of the fogged up window. This scene is hard to bear. It is on one hand a high concentrated example of pure cinema on the other hand we witness how the longings of a very lonely woman suffer the cold death. The dreamy view into a festive lighted room changes into into the disenchanted insight of loneliness how I know only from very few films. This setback from a great moment of cinematic poetry through two seemingly simple camera movements to grim loneliness gives the film a long echo which burns into the memory.

Now she is walking alone through the deserted nocturnal big city. A straying little dog (who must have smelled the cake which Miss Stoneham has still with her) follows her. She cites a bit from Shakespeare´s King Lear and than we hear her voice over citing a letter to her niece Rosemary. For the first time in her life, Violet Stoneham thinks about to leave her country India for good.

This concourse of poetry and realism reminds me in the deeply sad fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen “The Girl with the Matches” The joy of the girls at the images induced by the light of her matches fascinated me as a child. With the first match she just wanted to warm herself up. But than she creates for herself everything what she is missing with the matches. She struck another match against the wall. It burned brightly, and when the light fell upon the wall it became transparent like a thin veil, and she could see through it into a room.” (The Girl with the Matches, Hans Christian Andersen).At first she sees in her own visions a splendid decorated Christmas room but when her recently deceased grandmother appears, she wanted to see her again and sacrifices her last match to walk with her into the light. The harsh contrast between this wonderful vision and the next morning, the lack of comprehension of the people at the sight of the girl who has frozen to death unsettled me a lot when I was a child.

Rüdiger Tomczak

This is the english version of a german text published in shomingeki No. 27 in homage to Aparna Sen in four parts.