Raise the Castle! / 築城せよ！ / Chikujo seyo!
Yo Kohatsu produced a short version of Raise the Castle in 2005, presenting it at small film festivals and actually releasing it on DVD. He’s returned with a longer, more fleshed out version of the original, making the light and delightful film even better. The thoroughly absurd plot revolves around a trio of long-passed samurai led by the Mifune-esque Ondaiji, returning to the present to galvanize a community to build an unfinished castle on the remains of an old foundation. Short of proper materials a homeless man living in cast off boxes inspires them to build the castle out of cardboard and the quixotic endeavor begins. Plots and subplots involving bureaucratic shenanigans, a grand love story, a little father/daughter frisson and a whole host of wonderful character types make Raise the Castle not necessarily one of the more substantial movies to grace the screen, but a thoroughly fun summer diversion. Makoto Imazato leads a wonderful cast of unknowns and locals as a nerd inhabited by a samurai soul of Ondaiji.
Originally published in EL Magazine, July 2009