Director - Nagisa Oshima Actors - Takeshi Kitano, Ryu-ichi Sakamoto, David Bowie 'Sennjyou no Merry Christmas' 1997 - Kobe had huge earthquake, almost lost everything people had reconstructed from nothing - after 1945. 6000 lives were lost with seconds of rattle of the shell of the planet - and fortunately I never lost a single of my friend or acquaintance in this disaster. I remember I surfed the web to check the list of names of casualties. Everyone got hurt inside. I remember I walked through the streets of Kobe after the quake - all those old buildings and churches European immigrant families have built for 150 years - most of them were terribly damaged - rabbles and bricks were everywhere - huge buidlings were lying on the main streets. Each corner and scenes were cherished ones - for everyone - and there was a cold winter sky. We were all hurt - but we started to walk, make steps again, slowly and slowly. There was a very collective memorial old station - it sustained but terribly damaged so has to be dismantled - fire brigade cars started to shower waters over the station dome and iron balls strated to crash down the structure from its top - when it started to gone - lose its shape - everyone was crying. We went through Spring, Summer and Autumn, and in Winter - very silently - wondering - about some painful thoughts - I cannot write it down here - but now it turned out in more casual joke - as I often say 'We are living over the volcanos, it's not even a island.' And there was a Christmas of 1997 and there were some special TV programs for Christmas. There is a comedian called 'Takashi Matsumoto' - a one of those 'genuis' kind of young comedian - he is I think almost a billionare - because his performance is almost artistic. We have a tradition of 'loving those eccentric and genuine commedians' - we even respect them. So he had his TV show in that Christmas. It was a series of only nonsense -stupid Western Japanese (Kann-sai Jinn) stuff. And it went for an hour and a half. Studio, just has been broadcasted all those frenzy shows, got dark, comedians had gone, it went silent - and there was Takashi - standing alone and I think he said 'I am not exactly from Kobe - but most people know I'm from Amagasaki- pretty close - and I don't like sentimental stuff - so I don't do donation or charity much - I pay tax enough - 85 % - so - and I asked to Ryu-ichi Sakamoto - can you play piano live - from Kobe island (artificial island in the Kobe dock) - it's winter - cold - but Sakamoto said Okay, if you want me to play, I will play. And I heard it later that Sakamoto don't play that tune - the tune I like from 'Sennjo-no Merry Christmas' - in live - So it is special. Heck, fuck sake, what's special. Good night. Ah, and last, I asked how much I should pay for this to Sakamoto. He said he needs not to be paid for such a thing. I ashamed myself. ' And the tune continued 3 to 4 minutes, it was actually played from the piano placed on the windy and cold square in the middle of that dock. The musician, Ryu-ichi Sakamoto was sitting and playing in the middle of the wind. We suffered 80s. Suicide of kids were the most issue we always gazed and felt hurted. We had one or two 'representitives' of our voices - but they all gone - died - because of drugs and stuff. And we spent most of the 90s numb. Now our apathy were turning back to us - not only members of the society is leaving society daily - commiting suicides - people started to attack people - AUM, I had one of my study mate's friend in its assasination squad leader - from similar background. Wakayama Poisoning - a region which has 'normals' and 'caste' and the region one of my ex-girlfriend - engaged - grew in that town, right across the river bank, she can see the place where 13 or so kids were poisoned to death by food from, the park she played when she was small. (The woman commited crime was from caste. Also, AUM's guru and central members were all from caste too.) The movie itself is not reflecting our historical grievances or context - at all. It's rather sur-realistic - nonsensical collections of images and footages - from Japanese eye, there is no realism. There is no - real presentation of issues of 'Jap' and 'Whites' relations. 'Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence!' That smile was mysterious - Takeshi Kitano - his movies were another series of 'eccentric' and 'nonsense' stuff. We were largely lost until late 90s - since late 90s we started to notice - that we have 'monitors' of this society and its foreign relations - academics, novelists and all sorts of experts from bankers, businessman to high artists and low artists - those who can show about, where we are from and where we need to go and reach. And after the earthquake, mysterious things started to happen in Kobe, from the summer of the next year - we started to witness nature's return. Strong return. Plants, trees, bushes started to grow larger and taller. We started to witness return of kinds of birds, insects, fishes - we lost a decade ago because of urbanisation and industrialisation. As if - nature regained its earth power again, it was mysteriously all strong - but it was really happening. We soon started to increase of numbers of wild bores and dears in the mountains - And at around this time - the movie 'Totoro' was created. It is about a imagined family of creatures living in the forest - one family of humans moved in a rural village - and they started to notice the existence of all those good old monsters. The movie is made by 'Hayao Miyazaki' - who - works in the realm of animation but who really cares about the context of Japanese culture and history - (although his sense is very simplistic and really cartooninsh) - a series of work is known with the name of 'Studio Ghiburi' - he also has, alike Kitano, wide fans among US and overseas. The theme was 'Tatari' - vengeace - revenge from Nature - We destroyed our lands, forests, mountains, rivers and oceans - for modernisation sake and for feeding up those contractors/developers sector - we really tortured our nature - So we will and we shall, have pay-back time from the Nature. They(Nature) will do it - sooner or later - and we have to accept it we cannot avoid - cause we did bad and terrible to them. And this turn was one of those 'symptoms' of late 90's Japanese culture - we started to review everything ecological/environmental in our land. It is hard - cause there are markets and interest holders but good thing is all those 'counter powers' are coming up with all kinds of new ideas and always awaiting to the chance and moment of actualisation. In this sense, we aren't lost anymore these days. Thank you to the our old blood in our culture - that of animsm, and shinto - and early buddhism. They made us easier to 'reset' our minds. 'Ah, we can't keep going like this anymore.' And we see grounds, recall those small streams we played when we were child and we recall evenings and mornings when sun was so beautifull there - everyday. So, Totoro is about 'return of nature' - nature got some message and we have to listen to it with our minds. And two sisters - interact with those large monsters from the forest - always walk along unpaved roads sided by tall trees. They are still young and small. And it signifies 'We can, and should, push reset switch - at any time.' - 'We don't have to be in this way and we can try to be different - and there is future.' The history of our - Japanese's - movie making is not that context-less, there are trials, questions and answers we come up with - it is possible to observe certain good context and meaning in why every 5 or 10 years - Japanese movies shift their issues - styles drastically. Totoro was that kind of pivotal work - and under-introduced in UK, (Pikachu - is like - I don't know - it's marketing...) The thing is we all watch it - from 2 years or 3 years old to very elderly people. We live close to nature - which makes you feel like actually each of them have some character, personality, comes to talk to you. As far as I see it is a totally different environment from that of England - - still, sometimes I find I can talk to hedgehogs on the streets at night though. A.