Friday, 11 May 2012

Just watched: Soko ga Shiritai

I've had a few episodes of this series on an external hard drive for some time now, and so I thought I should write about it. This is a documentary series with a slightly random feel to it, as if they just went out with a camera and a theme, and filmed whatever happened. It ran from 1982 to 1997, and it covered a wide range of topics about life in Japan.

Let me just say that if the past is another country, then the past of another country is like two other countries layered on top of each other. For me, with no first-hand knowledge of 1980s Japan (apart from playing Shenmue over and over), it can be quite odd. Somehow familiar, but also decidedly different.

You can see the germ of an idea that would pop up regularly in TV dramas when one episode discusses what it means when a woman turns thirty. They talk about how attitudes to family and society change. Of course, this is the main plot-line in countless Japanese dramas: the only difference being that the age has slowly crept up from 30 to 40.

There are some fascinating insights, such as those that follow trainees and new employees in companies. Other episodes are fairly rambling, and they do feel as if they're made up on the spot. For example, an episode about heirlooms involves a sequence where the presenter goes from door to door in a neighbourhood asking if they can film any antiques they might have.

They're definitely worth digging out – there are plenty of episodes on YouTube. In fact, I've just seen one called "Cryptic Classifieds" which I'm going to watch now, just to see what it's about.

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