JFF 2017 Review: TSUKIJI WONDERLAND | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 10 September 2017

JFF 2017 Review: TSUKIJI WONDERLAND

A scene from TSUKIJI WONDERLAND (2016)

TSUKIJI WONDERLAND covers the inner workings of the famed Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, as well as the history of its establishment.


REVIEW: Celebrating its 14th year of Japanese Film Festival from 7 to 13 September exclusively at selected GSC cinemas in the Klang Valley region, one of the most fascinating lineups is the acclaimed 2016 documentary, TSUKIJI WONDERLAND.

The interior in Tsukiji market in TSUKIJI WONDERLAND (2016)

Normally, I'm not very keen on watching documentaries. But TSUKIJI WONDERLAND surprises me a lot with its beautifully-told story that offers an insider's look at how the world's famous and biggest fish market is operated daily for every season. The documentary also emphasised deeply on the importance of commitment and trust as well as the strong foundation of professional relationships within the Japanese work culture. It was admirable to see how the people who operate their respective stall at Tsukiji Market treat their fishes and other seafood as both parts of their livelihoods and utmost passions. You can sense how closely knit these people at Tsukiji Market work like one big happy family.

A close-up shot of sushi in TSUKIJI WONDERLAND (2016)

Another interesting part of this documentary is the entire process of the fishes auctioned and sold from the market before they are finally landed to consumers and end-users, notably the chefs. Speaking of chefs, director Naotaro Endo vividly captured the lingering shots of well-prepared sushis and other mouth-watering Japanese dishes. These shots, coupled with the inner working of the Tsukiji market made the fishes and other seafood all the more rewarding experience.

The bird's-eye view shot of Tsukiji market in TSUKIJI WONDERLAND (2016)

If there are weaknesses in TSUKIJI WONDERLAND, I would say its two-hour length tends to feel overlong. At times, this documentary is repetitive with drawn-out scenes that could have trimmed shorter. Then, there is the female voice-over heard from the beginning of the documentary. It sounds as if she is telling a bedtime story. But overall, TSUKIJI WONDERLAND remains a great documentary worth watching in the cinema. It may have been slow-moving, but it's hard to deny its absorbing storytelling that makes you value the fishes even more.

An insightful, if lengthy look at the daily operation of Tsukiji market alongside its overall Japanese work ethic that is both heartwarming, poignant and educational.

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