Well, we’re back to Aomori prefecture for another movie in this challenge. This time being the region of Ajigasawa, not too far from Hirosaki as Mt. Iwaki (also seen in Miracle Apples) looms, but is also famous for the Shirakami Sanchi. It’s another feast for the eyes visually, pulling on the local Nebuta festival, ocean, and forest. This time with the most adorable dog, Wasao!
Wasao being the significantly less known, but still loyal beyond belief Akita Inu of Aomori. His story in the film was fictionalized, but nonetheless the beloved ‘ugly but cute’ (very subjective statement by the way) dog starred in this film adaptation.
The film depicts a large white dog, mistaken as a bear at first, wandering into Ajigawasa. Having travelled back to seek his original owner, the dog is tired and a bit skittish. The stray comes upon Kikuya Setsuko (Yakushimaru Hiroko), an owner of a squid restaurant and of several other dogs. However, the dog is pretty free spirited who appears and disappears throughout the town. As more members of the town become aware of the dog, tentatively dubbed ‘Wasao’ – a play on Wasawasa the word for restless, begins to start becoming a fixture in the town.
I have a hard time really putting into words a lot about Wasao, the film that is. I don’t like making comparisons, but Wasao as a film reminds me of the straight to VHS dog movies that dominated the shelves of video rental stores in the late 90’s. It’s a feel good ‘boy and his dog’, and ‘woman and her dog’ story. One that will at least have you wanting your own pooch cuddled up to your side when watching.
Similarly to my entry for V, Wasao doesn’t exactly have a ton of commentary to be had. There’s a few story lines about the various townspeople and their motivations; the Jr. High School kids and their Nebuta style float they’re building for the triathlon, those competing in said triathlon, Akira and his family as Shiro’s original owner, and of course Setsuko’s story are presented, and completed within Wasao‘s run time. Nothing too crazy in terms of acting. It’s all solid, with cast chemistry that works, but no outstanding deeply moving performances. That might be me just distracted by the super fluffy Wasao on the screen. So cute!
In terms of cinematography, Wasao as another G rated, family orientated film, there’s no fancy tricks or arthouse techniques. The scenes read well, and presented straight forward. I had my qualms with the audio that Hulu had, but with headphones it was alright. Also I mean… I mentioned the scenery before. Aomori is gorgeous guys, and once again Wasao showcases that.
In terms of anything else… personally this film was well needed for me. Wasao brought me back to my childhood days of watching endless ‘boy and their dog’, and ‘girl and their horse’ movies. I even paused and went and got my beloved dog stuffed animal to settle down and watch. You can’t really put a value on that sort of feeling that gets harder to come by as the years go on.
Also, I mean… look at Wasao. He starred in his own movie! He’s too cute and endearing. It’s unfortunate that Wasao has since passed, rest in peace. You were the best on-screen dog actor. For those looking for more famous Japanese dog stories, with feel good vibes; Wasao is for you!
I would watch this movie just for the fluffy, fluffy doggy on the cover!
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