Survival Family is a comedy and slightly strange drama directed by Shinobu Yaguchi, who himself specialised in these types of movie that depict normal people and putting them against weird obstacles. It centres around a Japanese family of four, acted by Fumiyo Kohinata, Eri Fukatsu, Yuki Izumisawa and Wakana Aoi, who has to travel across Japan as the country is faced with a weird situation where all electronic machines just malfunction and refuse to work. With a plot that borders on post-apocalyptic-ish and yet is filled with Japanese twists and flavours, could this movie be another hit from the acclaimed director? Read the film review below to find out!
One day, Japan is struck with a blackout that seemingly stops every electronic device to work. A family of four, who has quite a bad and messy relationship with one another, has to travel to the Mom’s hometown to get food and water as the capital Tokyo is faced with shortages of food. With most of the members already accustomed and dependent on electronics and internet, could they survive the tough ordeal of traveling to their destination by bikes?
Survival Family is so unlike any that I have ever seen so far this year. First of all, it’s a Japanese movie that has a strange plot that is similar to a post-apocalyptic movie where every single machine in Japan breaks down and refuses to work. However, instead of causing massive chaos or panic, we are shown the Japanese side of patience and also attention to order. This movie is so filled with such Japanese flavours that it really stands out. What’s more, this is actually a comedy movie, with unique quirky Japanese humours that you won’t find elsewhere. The plot is actually pretty simple, as the family of four just needs to cycle to the other end of Japan to be with their grandparents, and the whole movie focuses on their journey. The pacing is actually quite good as well, with the film taking its time to depict how each character tries to adapt to their new lives in interesting and funny ways.
Onto the characters, they are perhaps the biggest success factor in this movie. At first, each of the family members is of stereotypical types, such as a Dad who works overtime and is concerned with baldness, yet has a strained relationship with his children. Then we have a Mom who is quite submissive and clumsy, and a daughter who is addicted to internet and anything ‘kawaii’, and finally a son who is good with hands-ons stuff but is also a loner. What makes these combinations work is when the tragedy happened, each of these characters begins to change their way of approach to adapt to their new surroundings. You get to see and feel for the characters, and then you see yourself growing fond of them as they tackle challenges together as a family. Lastly, the music soundtrack used is very minimal, with only 2 soundtracks being played near the ending and the credits. It’s pretty incredible that I get to enjoy this movie without feeling bored when 85% of the movie does not employ any form of soundtracks, and only putting in natural sounds so that we can focus on the ‘realness’ of the situations and not the dramatised version.