So I was sitting in my Japanese class when my teacher told us that we can see a special screening on campus of the movie SAKE-BOMB and get some extra credit. I looked at the poster she passed around and noticed that it had won a few awards at the South by South West (SXSW) Film Festival. I figured I didn’t have much to lose, so I decided to check it out and was pleasantly surprised by how funny the movie was in addition to the content of the film.
The movie was directed by Junya Sakino and written by Jeff Mizushima who are both CSULB alumni. The film follows a young man named Naoto who is about to take over running the sake factory in his small Japanese town. Before doing so, his boss gives him some time off to do something he has always wanted to do before he dedicates the rest of his life to making sweet, sweet crunk juice. Naoto decides to travel to America to find his long lost love when he visits his Asian-American cousin Sebastian. Sebastian is a very neurotic character who has his own struggles with finding his purpose in life. After arriving in America, Sebastian is forced to aid Naoto in his quest by taking him wherever he needs to go.
While the “looking for love” road trip movie has been done before, it has never been done in this style. The writer tackled many perceptions and misconceptions about Asians, Asian-Americans, and pop-culture in general. Just think about it; how many Asian/Asian-American actors are out there that get leading roles in the Western media that aren’t related to kung-fu? The character Naoto is very naïve and is not used to the world filled with blogs, social networks, and drinking parties that most of us are. There is an immediate contrast between Sebastian and Naoto that got me thinking about my own time spent in Japan. There are many similarities between Japanese and American culture like there are with any other cultures, but some of the differences really become clear throughout the story. Like the actual sake bomb drink, the content of the film is a strange mix of Japanese and American influences which makes it hilarious.
This film does a good job of dispelling the notion that Asians and Asian-Americans exist in some kind of mono-cultural bubble. It covers everything from Anime geeks to the prevalence of mixed-race couples. In the end, I think the main message of the movie is not to take everything so seriously and one can live a better life by accepting oneself and others as they are. Anybody wanting to learn more about Asian/Asian-American cultural issues or just wanting to watch a movie that pokes fun at stereotypes will enjoy sitting down and watching what life after graduating from our film school can look like. SAKE-BOMB is scheduled to be released on January 21st, 2014.