Sunday, May 16, 2010


I’ve been watching Japanese films lately. A lot. This weekend, I watched Kuki Ningyo (Air Doll) and was impressed by the movie.

Middle-aged Hideo lives alone with an inflatable doll he calls Nozomi. The doll is his closest companion. He dresses it up, talks to it over dinner, and has sexual intercourse with it. However, unbeknown to Hideo, Nozomi was created with a heart. After Hideo leaves for work each day, Nozomi dresses in her maid's outfit and explores the world outside their apartment with a sense of child-like wonder. more here

The movie was slow-paced but I think that was the intention of the director so as to be in the situation of the Air Doll, which was awesomely portrayed by Korean actress Bae Doona. Out of curiosity, I checked the other works of the director, Hirokazu Koreeda, and was surprised to see that among his other works were Nobody Knows and Still Walking, two of my favorite Japanese movies of all time. I can say I am now a fan of Koreeda-san and I will try to watch his other works too.

Empty. I loved the metaphor and symbolism played here, the air doll being physically empty and her neighbors being empty inside as well as Tokyo being a soulless city despite its bright lights. It was an emotional journey to Nozomi from the very moment she first realized that she has a heart until to the very end of her plastic life.

At some point of the story, it was shown that she fell in love to one of her co-employees, Junichi. Despite being an inflatable sex doll, she was not spared from falling love. But still she was very much aware of her limitation. You can feel her when she said “I'll do anything for you... That's what I was born for”. As mentioned above, Bae Doona was really effective playing her part. She seemed like a child in a fantasy world but slowly losing her innocence in her new found world. And later her painful realization, “having a heart was heartbreaking”.

She was in love and despite being “cold”, she felt warmth to Junichi. But even a fairy tale doesn’t necessarily in a fairy tale ending.



touches the skin of a volcano
warmth and longing;
feels the tremors of your heart
until it spews out my name


I’ve been in Japan (on and off) since 2003 and sometimes I do feel that despite the hurried pace of city life, the blinding lights of the city, some areas and places have an empty aura. And after watching this film, I thought, yes, it may be empty or a bit soulless but it is up to someone to put life to it.

Quoting to end this, It seems life is constructed in a way that no one can fulfill it alone.




  1. The wrong name, perhaps? I am thinking how sometimes the voice can interrupt the feeling....

  2. Interesting post! Your photos are superb.

  3. That feeling comes across in a lot of Japanese films, but gets lost in the Hollywood remakes.

  4. you are right Stan, examples are "Shall We Dance" and "Hachiko"

  5. planning to watch it too pero nung time ata na nakita ko yan wala pang sub haha.. pwede ko na iDL ulit.

    ay alam mo ba nominated ung best actress na korean dyan sa japan oscar awards haha.. wala lang

  6. I felt that emptiness in Tokyo, and I guess that's one of the many reasons I chose to leave Japan. If ever I come back, I might choose the Kansai region, heard that it's different there. :D


any thoughts to distill?

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