a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

Miyoko Asagaya Kibun / 美代子阿佐ヶ谷気分 / Miyoko

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Based on the life of pioneering manga artist Shinichi Abe, Miyoko Asagaya Kibun brilliantly illustrates and illuminates the madness and excess of its subject and his times. In the 1970s Abe (played with crazy passion by Kenji Mizuhashi) published expressionistic and outré comics based on his own life in the groundbreaking Garo magazine. His work was stylistically and conceptually ahead of its time. It was also driven by his own problems with mental illness and alcoholism. Miyoko Asagaya Kibun seamlessly crossfades between the drawn image and the re-enactment, between obsession and monstrousness, showing a devastated and devastating life, all the while keeping an unsentimental eye on a what brings an artist to greatness and finally off the edge. Yoshifumi Tsubota’s film debut highlights a new talent with a great grasp of quirky storytelling and visual style. The cast, rounded out by Marie Machida and Shoichi Honda are inspired. A particularly touching denouement, after the madness and decline of Abe, is a brief shot of the real Abe, smiling at the camera – as the credits roll.

Originally published in EL Magazine, July 2009

Written by Nicholas Vroman

July 1, 2009 at 12:25 am

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