This is a simple movie. There’s really nothing big going on in this anime. It’s a straight forward movie about the Yamazaki family during the 39th Showa Era or 1964. This was a significant year for Japan because this was the year Japan hosted the summer Olympics. This was a big thing for Japan because this was more than just the Olympics. It was also a way to reintroduce themselves to the world after cutting themselves off during WWII. The setting of the anime isn’t really that important and only subtle 1964 references are thrown here and there. I wish they did add more though because the movie is too plain and too straightforward.
The anime is about the family dynamic of the Yamazaki’s. It’s a laid back story full of typical family problems. It has the over protective dad, the rebellious children, the caring mother and every other typical family issues. There’s nothing grand in the way of the story and nothing really remarkable happen. It just nicely painted how a typical family interacts daily and it shows just how much they love each other. If I’d break the story to bits though, there’d be two plot points to the movie.
The first one, and the one that had more focus, is about the daughter of the family going through her rebellious phase. It’s nothing remarkable. Yuuko Yamazaki, seventeen years old, is in love with this guy and she goes out with him without telling her family. They started worrying when she would say “I’ll go to the library” and then come home late into the night. Given the era, it’s natural that her parents would be mad because seventeen year old girls should be proper ladies and girls shouldn’t date so young. It’s pretty understandable for her age though to act out against her parents and do things she isn’t allowed to do. Nothing blows your parents top than your daughter dating an older guy.
The Yamazaki family is patriarchal household and the father heavily scolds his daughter. The mother keep things calm and the daughter would just brush her parents off. Like I said, nothing awesome happens and the plot is pretty predictable.
The second plot point is the changing times and the father’s craft work being threatened by change. His son insists to move on with the times but the father doesn’t budge. I guess this is where the 1964 setting is more prominent as well. Aside from the Olympics, the rise of western culture (the Beatles and the Ivy League fashion movement) and the introduction of bullet trains were among the changes happening during those times. The traditional era is slowly being invaded by technology and global culture. The lives of the Yamazaki family are being affected by this monumental change.
The 1964 reference is pretty small though. This was a missed opportunity because this was a nice way to spice the anime up a bit. 1960s was also the decade Sakamachi no Apollon is set in and it was able to use it to give the anime some personality. It featured Christianity, foreigners walking the street and the heavy influence of the western culture. In Shouwa Monogatari, everything is pretty unspectacular. Sure it had bullet trains, the Olympics and western influences but it doesn’t really transport you to the era. It’s most just there as a backdrop for the story to function in. It’s such a shame because anime movies need to separate itself from regular airing series and they do so by being grand and awesomely conceived. This movie had none and it felt I’m watching a low budget anime series from 2002.
The story made a nice comeback in the end though and the theme of family togetherness is nicely displayed. It doesn’t matter if your parents yell at you or if your daughters are turning into a grade A slut. At the end of the day, they’re family and family stick together and weather any storm. The story was sweet and I appreciate the subtle approach to something so simple and very relatable. That’s the main strength of the anime as well. The way you can relate to the characters and the family dynamic makes it a treat to watch the anime. It also proves just how strong a family bond is that viewers can relate to a 1960s family.
4/10 “It’s plain and plain comes off as weak and weak is not really something you’d want to watch.”read more