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Go Seppuku Yourselves ★★★★



Director: Toshiaki Toyoda

Starring: Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Yosuke Kubozuka

Released: Japan Cuts 2021

Toshiaki Toyoda has been at the forefront of Japanese cinema for over two decades but is rarely discussed with major hitters like Hirokazu Koreeda or Takashi Miike. His artistic palette is pure poetry in motion that always leaves you thinking.

Since 2019 his Resurrection Trilogy has been a shining beacon that demonstrates his mastery. Wolf’s Calling and Days of Destruction have been ruthlessly executed, and the socio-political themes within them have been intriguing. While these aren’t feature-length films, they truly are worth anyone’s time.

The final film in the trilogy Go Seppuku Yourselves follows a man (Kiyohiko Shibukawa) tasked with assisting in the ritual suicide of a samurai (Yosuke Kubozuka) who won’t die without condemning the corrupt powers that be.

Toshiaki Toyoda has been in aggressive form lately, and Go Seppuku Yourselves adds to this. As the drums intensively beat in the opening scene, it delves into a world of political corruption and the honesty of the common man. Toyoda’s reflects on history gone by but observes the unrest this pandemic has thrown onto humanity. As the opening scene unfolds, you are immersed in the Toyoda universe with the usual Seppuku Pistols score that is etched in this cold, grainy and foreboding imagery.

The strength of this tale is the dialogue. While we are within classical Japanese period cinema, there are many sharp tounges and disdain of the powers that be. Yōsuke Kubozuka monologue is powerfully angry and masterfully executed. Toyoda allows you to stare into the soul of a man who is willing to sacrifice himself for others. There is a claustrophobic sense of intensity that makes it so riveting and natural. Toyoda leaves you wondering what events led to this moment, and that mystery is what makes it even more intriguing.

While the connections to all three films are open to interpretation, the socio-political motif is clearly visible. Toyoda is showing us that we can overcome tyranny, but it comes at a cost. Humanity is built on hierarchy, but the people at the bottom of the pyramid can make a difference. As the final shot leads into chaos, Toyoda’s mise-en-scène leaves you with goosebumps. Even though Go Seppuku Yourselves is 26 minutes long, it demonstrates the ruthless and majestic side of Toshiaki Toyoda.

Lover of all things indie and foreign language. Can be found rambling on YouTube at times!

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