In her ninth month of pregnancy, Hara Mitsuko finds herself broke and friendless in Tokyo after lying to her parents about being in California with the baby’s GI father.
Mitsuko decides to pack up her Tokyo apartment and follow the cloud wherever the wind takes it. She ends up in a little working-class alley where she spent some of her childhood after her parents lost their pachinko business. While the rest of Tokyo developed, this working class alley was left behind, the residents living in their own little world.
The place is run-down, empty and depressed with only the elderly landlady and two other residents, of Yoichi’s diner, living there. Mitsuko soon realizes that they are all stuck in a vortex, with everyone frozen in time, and not moving forward in their lives. Even young Yoichi has been in love with her since childhood, waiting for her return. Mitsuko and her can-do attitude is determined to help the neighbourhood, the residents and Yoichi’s diner all before it’s time for her to go into labour.
Director Ishii did a wonderful job with the story and characters in the film. Amusing and witty characters are sure to entertain, like that of the elderly lady waiting for the missile buried under her house to explode and Mitsuko who takes power naps to help her think when making difficult decisions.
The idea to use the traditional working-class alley setting hidden in Tokyo, was an interesting one that worked well in conveying the admirable themes of family values, helping out your neighbour and staying ‘cool’ through life’s challenges. Scenes within Yoichi’s diner will definitely make one crave Japanese cuisine afterwards.
Some may see the film as a satire on working-class stereotypes of Shochiki’s old Tora-san series but director Ishii adds his own twist and succeeds in making an enjoyable and entertaining film, proving that he has become a major figure in Japanese cinema.
Mitsuko Delivers had its World Premiere at the 2011 Vancouver International Film Festival.