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June 21, 2012

Kakera: A Piece of Our Life

Kakera 2.jpg

Momoko Ando - 2009
Third Window Films Region 2 DVD

Even without fully reading the original manga, "Love Vibes", Momoko Ando has made the significant change of having the two principle characters look distinctly different, as well as changing the names. But what interests me more in this regard is the difference between Hollywood and Japan in using graphic novels as source material. The Hollywood films are based on stories written by men with characters who, if not superheroes, are in some way mythic. The Japanese films often are sources from female writers, and are about relationships of very human characters.

Haru is short, a bit awkward, and seemingly uncertain about her life except that she wants to be loved. Hara's idea of love may be unclear, but it's not what she's getting from her boyfriend, a lout with questionable hygiene, worse table manners, a girlfriend on the side, and a habit of immediately kicking Haru out the door in the morning. Riko, taller and more stylish in dress, is more certain of herself and her feelings. Riko zeroes in on Haru at a coffee shop, initiating a relationship that takes a toll on both.

Even though it is physical attraction that attracts Riko to Haru, the relationship that we see is primarily one of emotional needs, and a conflict between Riko's certainty and Haru's vacillations. The two view fireworks from a distance, and as if stated as a riposte to Alfred Hitchcock's love and fireworks in To Catch a Thief, one comments that the fireworks look like war. Documentary footage of war plays on a television set while Haru, knocked out by a fall, is sexually taken advantage of by her boyfriend.

Kakera 1.jpg

Rika states that it is categorization that makes things difficult rather than basing love on gender. Ando deliberately chooses show only a few scenes of kissing and a couple of playful moments between the two women as a strategy for not allowing their relationship to be clearly defined. Even the last scene is open ended so that the future of the relationship is left to the imagination of the viewer. As Ando has stated, "I just wanted to say that before we talk about being a woman or a man, we should figure out how we should try to live our lives as human beings. We;ve all got hearts. That's the message."

Rika is a sculptor of prosthetics, creating artificial body parts for people. Momoko Ando has commented on how Kakera was made in part as a reaction to the feelings of disconnection people have, and Rika states that one of her prosthetics will not be a substitute for any emotional absence. Going back to the war analogy, the characters here are conflicted, neither being happy alone, nor with anyone else unless that relationship is on one person's terms. Love, it would seem, is not simply a piece of life, but something fragile and in fragments that doesn't always hold together.

This post is part of the Queer Film Blogathon hosted by Garbo Laughs and Pussy Goes Grrr.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at June 21, 2012 08:15 AM


Love ambiguous romances like this that really play with your expectations. Another great post, thank you!

Posted by: Caroline at June 22, 2012 05:35 AM