Adrift in Tokyo follows the touching tale of a disillusioned young man, steeped in debt, who dwells incessantly on the abandonment of his parents. Wallowing in self pity Fumiya’s life quickly worsens when a debt collector arrives to give him a quick beating and a reminder that he needs to pay up astronomical sums in a matter of days.
Desperate and despondent Fumiya wanders listlessly around Tokyo trying to think up ways of making money when the debt collector returns and makes him a proposition; he will cancel the debt and give Fumiya one million yen if he walks with him across Tokyo, for as long as he chooses.
As they wind across Tokyo visiting places of importance and nostalgia the pair slowly form a bond and the tone of the film moves from the tense set-up to a meandering and heart felt tale of friendship. Mr Fukuhara quickly confides his terrible guilt in Fumiya, explaining to him that he wishes to cross Toyko to the police station, where he will turn himself in for accidentally killing his wife. Despite this early confession the two become closer and closer en route, with the older, wiser Mr Fukuhara becoming like a surrogate father for the wayward student, guiding him back to the correct path and helping him to come to terms with who he is.
Along the way the pair see some of the stranger sights of the city and the film becomes like a modern-day Japanese odyssey as they stick together through thick and thin and catch glimpses into the peculiar lives of the urbanites. Warring families, old school friends, random guitar players and cantankerous old watch shop owners are some of the many hilarious characters of dipped into scenes, which make this film varied, entertaining and comically brilliant. These clever injections of insanity balanced with the serious tones of loss and abandonment keep the film both lively and grounded.
It is easy to grow to love Mr Fukuhara, despite the things he’s done and his guidance of the younger man is truly moving. On top of this the film’s side story of the discovery of Mrs Fukuhara’s body has some fantastic scenes and three characters who are comically brilliant as they are continually distracted from finding the corpse. Meanwhile the hints and indications of the role of luck, chance and fate are a masterstroke; keeping you interested until the very last.
Adrift in Tokyo is a great film and it was a genuine surprise, far and away above my expectations when I sat down to watch. The beauty of Satoshi Miki’s films is that they seem to be completely unpredictable each time without ever becoming too absurd. Beautiful cinematography and clever filming are a real homage to the beauty and diversity of Tokyo, the perfect setting for a very human, urban film.