Tachiguishi Retsuden


Nearly everything about Tachiguishi Retsuden defies easy explanation. Like the title, for starters. It literally means something like “The Legendary Masters of Eating While Standing,” while Production I.G. has apparently gone with the more spirited “Tachigui: The Amazing Lives of Fast Food Grifters.” Unlike the majority of his other films, it’s a parody. It’s animated, but it isn’t anime. It’s comprised of still photos of actors and settings that have been digitally animated into life, stop-motion style. But that being said, there isn’t a whole hell of a lot of motion, either. Major portions of the film consist of long (long) stretches of narraration over grainy, colorized black and white stills.

Sounds confusing? I haven’t even gotten to the plot. It’s like Tampopo meets Jin-Roh, a sprawling (and totally fictional) documentary chronicling dine-and-dashers in Japan’s postwar era. The story opens in the tiny standing room only noodle shops that sprang up during the occupation, and ends among the hamburger stands, beef bowl joints, and curry restaurants that serve up the majority of Japan’s fast food today. The various protagonists aren’t cast as criminals, but as anti-heroes and springboards for social satire. Sounds simple enough on the surface, but this is Mamoru Oshii we’re talking about. Their “amazing lives” unfold in an incredibly dense narrative, crammed full of trivia, pop-culture references, and Japanese urban legends, the vast majority completely unknown to foreign audiences.

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