Yesterday, I saw the Brazilian documentary Tokiori on Netflix. It’s not that it was so good that I had to talk about it here but it does hold some interesting insights for those who study Brazil. I’ve been to the Japanese neighborhood of Liberdade in São Paulo several times and I’ve made Japanese-Brazilian friends as well but, as I mentioned in São Paulo’s Rising Sun, it never really ceases to surprise me to see or hear Japanese-looking people speaking Portuguese natively. The real surprise is not in the specifics, but rather in the aggregate, and the fact that Brazil continues to be an interesting mélange.
As to the film itself, one reviewer said it best…
“Subtle, listless documentary about a transplanted Japanese community in Brazil is more a character study of a few Japanese immigrant families, rather than a standard fact-filled documentary. Floating between two worlds, the immigrants are no longer firmly rooted in either country. That seems to be the gist of the message, which slowly floats its way to the viewer, too. If you are not ready to be put in a lazily contemplative mood, this won’t be your cup of tea.”
The official blurb, however, goes like this,
“From 1928 to 1934, millions of Japanese immigrated to Brazil. Set in a small rural settlement, this emotional documentary follows the paths of families who forged a mixed identity between memories of Japan and a new life in Brazil.”
Personally, I thought it could have done better had it been linear and had it focused more on the specifics of immigrant life in Brazil (the arrival, the first years and nowadays) rather than aimlessly talking about how family members of varying ages have gone back and forth at one time or another.