Surprised that I am back on the blog so soon? Me too. After the last post I was wondering what the hell was I going to write this month, and if I had the time to write it in the first place. Then the Samurai was flipping channels this weekend in his usual irritating manner and we found ourselves arrested by the above movie, which was, in a nutshell, based on a true story about an elementary school teacher who brought a piglet for his class to raise for one year before their graduation. At the end of the year, the class had to make a decision on what happened to the pig. Should they eat it?
Damn the Japanese and their animal movies.
I bawled like a baby at the end. Which was no surprise, given my track record watching and crying during every single Japanese movie on animals, which stretches from Hachiko, to Quill, to 10 Promises to My Dog, to Helen the Fox.... These movies just wring every last drop of moisture in you by the time the credits roll. Busted, I am a big ole' softie. I even cry for a pig going to slaughter, and I love my Kurobuta as much as the next person.
Before I write anymore about the storyline, let me just say beforehand, "What an awesomely handsome man we have as the school teacher?! Who is he? Where has he been hiding?! OMG he looks gorgeous!! That smile! Ack!" According to Wiki, the actor is Satoshi Tsumabuki, and he acted in many movies and dramas, some of which I have watched. Why didn't I notice him before!? I will keep a keen eye on him from now on.
Satoshi Tsumabuki - Come to Mama.
Now that I have gotten the hormones out of the way, let me address the reasons why a simple movie on children, a pig and a handsome school teacher (okay!!!) has touched me so. 1) A cute furry animal always gets to me, even if it oinks. I doubt a story about an iguana will quite have the same effect though. 2) There were a number of unscripted scenes in the movie, where the children debated fiercely whether P-Chan (the pig) gets to live or go to the meat centre, and the honesty of the dialogue resonates. 3) The themes of life and death, the superiority of man, of responsibility are still the same issues we confront everyday in our adult lives. 4) Crying during movies is very cathartic. I would much prefer crying over fiction than in real life, having just lost a pet hamster and a foster dog to old age and disease very recently.
The Japanese children are a joy to watch. They were apparently auditioned specifically for this movie. The interactions among themselves and with P-Chan were priceless. You could see them struggling with their own morals. Are they really able to eat a pig that they have raised from young? Who can determine the length of life for anyone, even an animal? What does it mean to be responsible to a pet? How far do you take that responsibility - unto death?
I remember when it was time to put down my beloved dog, Waggie. It was one of the most gut-wrenching moments of my life. Internally, I wanted to spare myself from seeing him being put down, and I had done that for my previous dog, when I left him to the vet, an act which I regretted to this day. No matter how much I wanted to spare myself from the pain, I know my responsibility as the owner, and as the love of my dog's life, that I HAD to be with him when he breathed his last. So I stayed. Even then, I did not have the courage to hold him in my arms as the vet injected him, and it was in Samurai's arms when he passed on. It is another thing that I hope to correct should I ever have another pet.
School Days with a Pig won a number of well-deserved awards in the region. And I highly recommend all of you to watch it, but prepare your tissues. Will I still eat Tonkatsu after this? You bet I will.