Editor, U.S. ; Dallas, Texas (@HatefulJosh)
Miki Satoshi's Adrift in Tokyo finally hits UK DVD this week from Third Window. This 2007 feature was released in Canada by Evokative films several years ago, but never got a stateside release. I can't really recommend one over the other in terms of quality, but Third Window's release is currently slightly less expensive as an import to the US or a domestic purchase in the UK. Which ever way works best for you, I highly recommend picking up one of the most praised independent Japanese features of the early part of this century.

Adrift in Tokyo has four reviews in our archive, each of which is glowing, and with good reason. This is the third of Third Window's Satoshi releases, and my personal favorite of the bunch. Satoshi has shown a knack for quirky comedy and slice of life films since his early features, but none, not even the more recent Instant Swamp, quite hit the spot like Adrift in Tokyo. This film is ma favorite of Satoshi's work to date, by a wide margin. It plays its cards close to the vest, not resorting to overly cinematic or crazy coincidences nearly as often as many similarly themed Japanese comedies do.

The cast of Adrift in Tokyo is a huge part of the film's success, and it is the two leads who are the glue of this film. Jo Odagiri and Tomokazu Miura turn in hugely impressive and understated performances which convey real senses of character growth and emotion without a lot of histrionics. Miura as a debt collector plays mentor to debtor Odagiri in an unusual and touching fashion that evolves naturally with the passage of time. We learn their secrets and sympathize with each of them, in spite of their respective flaws, some more dire than others.

I love this film, but my continued gushing will only echo feelings about Adrift in Tokyo already expressed on these pages, so I'll allow my colleagues to speak for themselves:
Adrift In Tokyo takes on many of the characteristics of its plot. It is a meandering, quirky and surprisingly beautiful piece of work that perfectly balances humor and emotion. Flawlessly written and shot by a man who seems to have figured out exactly what sort of film maker he is and where his strengths lie, Adrift In Tokyo makes it very clear that Miki Satoshi is no longer simply that goofy TV director mucking about on the big screen but that he has become one of the strongest voices in Japanese film. Yes, it's really that good.
-Todd Brown

Adrift In Tokyo is a rather lovely film. It knows how to blend comedy and drama into a perfect mix of blanket-like warmth, covering the viewer with a world he'd somehow like to inhabit. Visually the film has its faults and there is not much in the way of a soundtrack, but the acting is superb and the comedy works magic, acting as fuel for a simple and light-hearted dramatic finale.
- Niels Matthijs

In the time it takes Fukuhara and Takemura to make the trip to the desired precinct Takemura doesn't so much make a connection to a place but realizes the importance of relationships and friendships and the person who thought he had no one finds himself attached to this debt collector. It's just too bad that he's going to surrender himself to the authorities. Adrift in Tokyo is an absolute delight!
- Andrew Mack
Rarely do we all agree like this, but I like to point it out when it happens. Consider this a group recommendation for Adrift in Tokyo, a spectacular film, and a lovely way to spend a couple of hours.

The Disc:

Adrift in Tokyo is among Third Windows better releases in the last few months. The image is nice and saturated, there is detail to spare, and there are no noticeable signs of the ghosting which often plagues PAL releases, as least none that are terribly distracting. The audio is also very good, though simple as one would expect. The dialogue comes through clearly and the sparse score and music footnotes are effective as one would expect.

There is one significant feature on this disc, and it is a very good one. Third Window have included a 70 minute behind the scenes feature that takes a long look at numerous set pieces and scenes and what it took to get them to come together just right. Satoshi, Odagiri, and Miura each contribute to the success of the film, but this feature helps shine a light on much more of the crew than we typically see, which is nice. The feature isn't really narrative in style, so I wouldn't call it a "making of" documentary, but it is a good example of what behind the scenes footage can do, rather than simply dumping a bunch of set footage onto a disc.

This is a winner any way you slice it. Third Window is off to a strong start with Adrift in Tokyo and the upcoming Miki Satoshi Collection. If you don't have Instant Swamp and Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers, you might want to wait for the box, but if those are already on your shelf, jump on this disc, you won't regret it!

Adrift in Tokyo

  • Satoshi Miki
  • Yoshinaga Fujita (novel)
  • Satoshi Miki (screenplay)
  • Joe Odagiri
  • Tomokazu Miura
  • Kyôko Koizumi
  • Yuriko Yoshitaka
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Satoshi MikiYoshinaga FujitaJoe OdagiriTomokazu MiuraKyôko KoizumiYuriko YoshitakaComedy

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