This sudden attack, which turns into a gridlocked pigpile, fits perfectly with the sensibilities both of the attacker, Japanese World War II veteran Kenzo Okuzaki, and the man filming him, documentarian Kazuo Hara. Bitter about being forced onto the wrong side of history, which is even more horrific than being forced onto the right side, the middle-aged Okuzaki spends post-military career denouncing the Japanese government by tracking down and grilling his former commanders, haranguing from a sound truck, and (as he proudly tells everyone he meets) chucking pachinko balls at Emperor Hirohito. Knowing a promising eccentric when he sees one, Hara follows Okuzaki around for a few years, shooting the many, many conflicts he rushes into.
Missing at least one finger and possessed of an odd, unsettling demeanor — I can only call it “aggro-nervous” — that doesn’t come through fully in translation, Okuzaki is a victim of his country’s bizarre wartime ambitions. He was shipped off to New Guinea, of all places, where things seem to have quickly devolved into a cannibalistic nightmare. 40 years later, his justice-crazed journey takes him into the homes and businesses of the surviving soldiers and officers who were stationed there, all of whom he strongarms into making some kind of admission, no matter how roundabout, about killing the natives, killing one another, eating the natives, or eating one another. The stories, though they conflict, just get Okuzaki angrier.
You’ll notice a piece of praise from Michael Moore on the poster. Normally, I wouldn’t consider that a good thing; as well known as Moore’s documentaries have become, I’ve always found the man’s taste astonishingly bad. But reading up on Hara, who turns out to be somewhat infamous in Japan as a maker of “action documentary films,” I can see that they’ve got something in common. Hara has spoken about how he doesn’t just want to shoot whatever happens to go on around him; he wants to make things happen in front of his camera. This agitatory (if that’s a word) mindset is also Okuzaki’s, and I personally find his browbeatings (and beatings) far more interesting than Moore’s leaden mockery of corporate executives. But each to their own.