Sunday, August 12, 2012

So I Watched Salvage Mice (2011)

Still puzzled a day-plus after stumbling upon a low-grade J-cheapie that just came up in Netflix's "new releases" bin, the St.Tail ripoff, Hiroshima tourism commercial that is Ryuta Tazaki's  Salvage Mice. Now while I have no intention of typing out a full review, I will just go on record as saying that while I can definitely see potential in a no-budget tale of a young girl who wears a mask and retrieves stolen artifacts from museums owned by do-badders, the importance of showing the strengths of your lead character is vital if one is going to begin the tale mid-caper. The amount of half-heartedness on display is on par with so many cheesy tokusatsu homages, that it easily becomes background noise if anything at all. If nothing else, the entire affair feels like a contractual obligation merely playing itself out around several Hiroshima landmarks, even going so far as to film in and around the offices of Hiroshima Home Terebi. So yes, this is even cheaper than the usual martial arts-packed tokusatsu fluff that comes out for television on a regular basis.

Now if this were merely some simply harmless, dopey youth action material, I'd be a lot less bugged by it, but there is definitely a streak of nasty stereotyping, and outright creepiness that permeates the piece. Much like anime in recent years, the emphasis on making sure your female leads are seen as squeaky clean bastions of innocence is often offset in this film by some tonally off gestures from some of the movie's stock male bad dudes. Very often, Salvage Mice doesn't seem to be sure what audience it is geared toward, giving off an almost classically in-denial feel. That's right. This is high-kicking, tourism plugging moe with a hint of regional prejudice (see visitors from Osaka)

It doesn't help that it is very clear that a lot of this was filmed without a proper story, and made up on the fly. It's pretty much the kind of stuff one expects to be randomly playing in the background at your local Marukai Marketplace. To imagine this as a legitimate release with a trailer seems pretty silly (and perhaps even a little desperate) in retrospect.

And yes, it's possible to enjoy this in some wildly fleeting, "as the party winds down" manner. (especially due to Julia Nagano's at times impressive kenpo) But for what it is, Salvage Mice is perhaps best to be found in a new section akin to a "new release bargain bin". And as a piece of marketing for potential tourists, it's the only place that makes any sense as it's pretty much the movie equivalent to a leaflet.

1 comment:

  1. I might be one of the only people in the world who actually watched this at the cinema. I was briefly back in Hiroshima several years after having lived there, so I got the full benefit of recognising every location. Admittedly a fairly limited appeal.

    The ten or so others at the screening were mostly all elderly and at the cinema to fill in time. The sole exception was one woman my age (early thirties) who came up to me after the film to tell me she was the props buyer.

    I got the impression it was a great way for the TV station that bankrolled it to declare a convenient and massive tax loss.

    Thanks for the review!