Nov 22

[movie review] Daijoubu de aru you ni-Cocco Owaranai Tabi-

daijoubuDear Cocco,

Last night I watched my copy of Daijoubu de aru you ni-Cocco Owaranai Tabi-, acclaimed director Hirokazu Koreeda’s documentary about your life during 2008’s Kira Kira tour, for the first time. Yes, I preordered the special edition and watched it despite barely understanding any of the Japanese. (Three years of Japanese classes were wasted on this slacker.) I also watched it with a migraine because seeing this movie was too important to wait for painkillers to kick in. No, I do not regret it.

Language-impaired as I was, I focused on the mood and visuals and, of course, your uniqueness. While 2003’s news documentary Heaven’s hell was faster-paced and more extroverted because of its focus on your fireball efforts to set up a concert by yourself and get people to pick up litter on the beautiful Okinawan beaches so vital to your creativity, Daijoubu de aru you ni has a quiet, slow and contemplative feel that works incredibly well. The opening close-up of you eating while gazing out the car window drew me in with its focus on Cocco as wide-eyed observer of the world in even the mundane moments. Being jaded as I am at 22, it warmed my heart to see you still so fascinated by everything around you: taking in the stunning nature of Okinawa, stopping to listen to a street performer play “Ue wo muite arukou” and responding to the kids who shouted out to you as you walked by. Following you from the camera’s lens, I understood both Koreeda’s fascination for you and the way you see your surroundings—major credit to Koreeda for pulling that off.

Daijoubu de aru you ni is also more filmic than Heaven’s hell, featuring artful scenes like the juxtaposed shots of you and your bandmates’ hands and a climactic ending in which you hacked off half your hair and added it to a bonfire of fan letters on the beach. (I assume this was some sort of ritual or tribute. I wish this movie had subtitles like Heaven’s hell did!)

I was shocked to see your son featured prominently in the movie, since you’d kept him secret for eight years and limited his public appearance to a tiny picture and vocal part in Kira Kira. I had assumed you were protecting him from tabloids that were fascinated by you, albeit for the wrong reasons. But Koreeda did an excellent job highlighting your sweet relationship with your son. When the two of you danced at dinner, it was one of the most touching and funny moments of the entire 110-minute video. P.S.—your son played the drums superbly, and if he was that musically skilled at eight years old, I expect great things of him in the future.

But more than anything else, you were the most striking part of the film. Even nearly eight years into my Cocco fandom, I’m still awed by how different you are from other human beings. While I imagine you’re more normal when you’re say, trying to persuade your son to clean his room, you’re so unlike the society-molded rest of us in every public appearance. I was charmed every time you cried while talking or danced spontaneously, and even when you sat adorably with a recorder resting at your face. Finding out you loved Princess Mononoke and desperately hoped for a happy ending the first time you watched it made me happy because I felt the same way. It was great to see “Bye Bye Pumpkin Pie” develop; only knowing the sweet version from the Kira Kira tour DVD and Cocco-san no Daidokoro CD, I was intrigued to see it started as a combination of your singing and the audience’s handclaps (the band didn’t join in, presumably, because it was a song you’d just written) and even took on a rockin’ form that never made it to the final cut.

But I was most moved when you collected people’s written memories at the Omoigoto exhibit and later tied those memories onto a barbed wire barrier set up on Okinawa by the U.S. military. It was a move both gutsy and incredibly pure-hearted. I’d say you’re supernatural, but perhaps you’re simply more human than most. I understand why Koreeda wanted to make a film about you.

Though I’m not a filmmaker, I am a writer. I would love the chance to see you live. Your work has had a tremendous effect from me in the distance, so I can only imagine how much I’d be changed if I experienced your personality in-person. It’s been over a decade since your last U.S. live. Care to visit us again?

Sincerely, your very inspired fan,


1 comment

  1. boo

    More than human, human. Cue sick slide guitar. Seriously, imagine if Mother Teresa had been this adorable? I’m kind of interested in this movie.

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