Title: Almost Coming, Almost Dying (Fantasia 2017)

Also known as:

Year: 2017

Genre: Comedy / Drama

Language: Japanese

Runtime: 90 min

Director: Toshimasa Kobayashi

Writer: Manabu Nakagawa, Hiroyuki Abe

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5885540

Manabu Nakagawa is 29-years old and still living with his parents due to his complete lack of direction and interest in anything. Eventually his father helps find him a job in the education field, and to Nakagawa’s surprise, not only is he good at it, but he enjoys it. After receiving his first paycheck and having a small layover in Sapporo, he decides to visit a brothel as a reward for himself. While being orally pleasured by a prostitute, he suffers a brain hemorrhage. He’s rushed to the hospital and informed he’s not out of the woods yet — he’s still at risk of the blood clot being fatal. Nakagawa now has to spend the next few weeks recovering in the hospital all the while trying to hide his secret of being at a brothel when the incident occurred.

Our thoughts:
I love Japanese cinema but I’m often at odds with their camp and over-the-top genre titles. For me, there always something missing that gives the movie value once you remove the gore or the zaniness from said film. One element that’s frequent in these over-the-top films are mascot characters — essentially cartoons in corporeal form. Their presence is often nothing more than the joke itself or simply a gimmick for the film. Like cephalopods having professional wrestling careers or marsupials in the board room of a company.

Because of how often I have hard time enjoying these sort of ventures, I was a bit hesitant with “Almost Coming, Almost Dying”. The premise sounded promising but in the trailer and in the press photos, a life-sized cartoon bear with a protruding that’s armed with a baseball bat was heavily emphasized. It was red flag and made me weary because it seemed like an element that would rub me the wrong way, and it would be difficult to remove biased feelings I have towards those characters.

But, it’s the Fantasia International Film Festival. So I threw caution to the wind and took a chance on the film from Toshimasa Kobayashi and Hiroyuki Abe and it worked in my favor. I wasn’t given a campy movie that relies on broad jokes for entertainment. Instead I was given an oddly sweet and sentimental movie about the awkwardness of what’s it like being a man who’s trying to get laid.

A lesson to be learned this year: always trust the programmers of the Fantasia International Film Festival.

I understand with modern social issues the last thing anyone wants to hear about is how it’s difficult to be a man. The content of “Almost Coming, Almost Dying” is applicable to anyone, more so than my simplistic breakdown of saying the movie is about a man who’s trying to get laid. Yes, the film is told from the perspective of a man. And yes, some of the situations the character Manabu Nakagawa (Misoo Nou) finds himself will be more relatable to men — especially with the plot point of friends and family discovering that he visited a brothel. The point of the movie and themes are more inclusive than that, thankfully.

Again, largely the theme is awkwardness. The awkwardness of life as a whole, really. Whether it’s finding a job (that isn’t a soul crushing hell hole), the relationship dynamic of a family, interacting with the opposite sex, having sex and, oddly specific, the healing process. As we grow, we are constantly bombarded with aspiration — whether it be from our parents or from our forms of escapism. We believe life has unrealistic expectations of being perfect. As a regular human being, you learn as the years go on, that’s never the case. Everything in life is awkward because none of us know what in the hell we are doing. Ever.

In the case of our character, Manabu, his days are filled with dread as he fears his family will discover that he suffered a brain hemorrhage while at a brothel. The humor and the heart of the film comes from Manabu trying to cover up this fact while dealing with the issues of recovering in a hospital. It’s a case of a bad situation being made worse. Although with each attempt to cover the fact, or simply work on his recovery, Manabu is met with a new embarrassing situation. More often than not though, his attempt to hide his secret results in all together different embarrassing situation to occur.

There’s a tension built within the setup the film has since we want to see Manabu get away (in a sense) with his dirty deed. So with each time the issue arises, there’s a feeling of levity that comes with the punchline due to release of that tension. We still feel bad for Manabu, yet we can’t help but laugh from a well timed joke and because of the release that comes with the feeling that he got away with it once again.

It all comes to a head though when Manabu is confronted with the issue that reminds him, and the audience, of one simple fact: parents always know. No matter what we do and how hard we tried to hide what it is that we did, our parents always know. Yet the purpose of this revelation isn’t for the sake of a joke but it’s to get to heart of the film. No matter how embarrassing a problem might be, the people who matter will always be there — not to judge, but to support. In the case of our parents, they do not judge because they’ve been there. They understand because they have experience and knowledge to understand that it doesn’t matter because at the end of that day, that’s life. You have to make a decision to let this situations control you or to pick yourself up and move on.

I never would have guessed before going to the screening that “Almost Coming, Almost Dying” was going to be such a fun and sweet movie. I expected cheap sex jokes with over-the-top gags about a man and a baseball bat wielding bear. Sure, some of that is in there but it’s there to serve a greater purpose: to tell an amusing but sincere story about what life is really like. That it’s awkward and embarrassing and we hope to that somehow we escape unscathed, but even if we don’t, that’s okay because there’s always tomorrow.

Positive things:
- Kind of a ridiculous setup but the film is supported by a heartfelt concept about life.
- Spot-on humor.
- Great characters.
Negative things:
- Nothing really came off as a negative for me.

Gore: 0/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 4/5
Effects: 3/5
Comedy: 3/5

We watched this movie thanks to:
Fantasia International Film Festival 2017

Reviewed by:








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