“Tachiguishi-Retsuden”: Mamoru Oshii’s fast food opus

Sometimes, insomnia has it’s advantages. Flipping through the channels at 1 AM, sorting through late night infomercials, and hitting gold in, of all places, the AZN channel. That’s where I first saw “Tachiguishi-Retsuden”.

The visual style can’t help but catch the eye. The presentation is semi-serious, with everything rendered in somber sepia tone and stark black backgrounds. Images become digitally distorted, expanding and contracting in discomforting ways to the eye. People are presented in papercraft forms that would fit comfortably on South Park if they weren’t so lovingly surreal.

The stern narrator, surely the Walter Cronkite of Japan in this strange universe, goes on about the long storied history of the tachiguishi or “fast food grifter”, men with the uncanny ability to eat at food stalls and restaurants and not pay their checks. They might wear rings in their noses, they bring fast food franchises to their knees, and they definitely have a posse.

This is all presented completely serious.

The morning after, I needed to know it wasn’t all a dream. Some quick Googling reveals the hand of Mamoru Oshii at the helm, which isn’t surprising. Most people would remember his early work on “Ghost in the Shell” and “Patlabor” but he also has a fair amount of experimental work to his name like the small cult hit “Angel’s Egg” and the live-action “Avalon”.

Oshii calls it “a serious comedy” which sums it up neatly. It’s a surreal mockumentary that held my rapt attention at 2 AM when I really should’ve been sleeping. To find it on TV is like a diamond in the rough, the rest of you are better off renting it.

Also to note, apparently a sequel is in the works. Shin-Onna Tachiguishi-Retsuden which might be translated to “The New Women of Fast Food Grifting”. The site has a lady in a blood red hijab and jack squat in content. And yet, I don’t think I could be more excited.

Tachiguishi-Retsuden on Wikipedia.

Mamoru Oshii on IMDB.

Shin-Onna Tachiguishi-Retsuden’s official site.

– Patrick

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~ by testbuddha on October 26, 2007.

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