July 30, 2013
A Second World
Ummm … I see… So, Kato, are you writing a blog to create your own world?
You’re telling me, Diane. You’re absolutely right on that.
So what kind of world is it?
Well … look at the following map and list.
Access from Another World
I see … so your blog is read by people from 86 countries, huh?
You bet on that.
And are you telling me that I’m dreaming about a paradise as a devoted Christian?
You certainly bet on that, Diane. You’re also creating a youthful fountain while practicing yoga and chi gong.
By the way, Kato, I recognize the man in the above picture. He was a famous Japanese writer who committed suicide by harakiri, wasn’t he?
Yes, his name is Yukio Mishima (三島由紀夫).
How about the other man?
He is also quite famous in Japan. His name is Rampo Edogawa (江戸川乱歩).
… sounds mysterious, doesn’t it?
Yes, it does. Actually, he is a mystery writer. His real name is Tarō Hirai (平井 太郎). His pen name was derived from the famous western mystery writer—Edgar Allan Poe, whom he admired profoundly and enthusiastically.
How was it derived?
In Japanese, his pen name is called “Edogawa Rampo.” <— Edgawa Ran Po <— Edga(w)A lan Poe <—Edgar Allan Poe
I see… The Japanese get confused with “R” and “L” even in writing, don’t they?
You’re telling me, Diane.
By the way, Kato, how come you come up with “A Second World”?
Well…, I borrowed two DVDs called “Shall We Dance?” from Vancouver Public Library.
How come two DVDs of the same title you borrowed?
Number 254 is an American version, which is actually a remake of Number 253—the Japanese version.
SHALL WE DANCE (2004)
Official Movie Trailer
So, Kato, you think the lawyer in the movie is seeking another world of his own when he gets bored with his own work, huh?
Yes, I do. John Clark (played by Richard Gere) is a lawyer with a charming wife and loving family, but he nevertheless feels that something is missing as he makes his way every day through the city.
Then what happens?
Well… Each evening on his commute home through Chicago, John sees a beautiful woman staring with a lost expression through the window of a dance studio. Haunted by her gaze, John impulsively jumps off the train one night, and signs up for ballroom dancing lessons, hoping to meet her.
So, John is seeking a love affair, isn’t he?
Oh, no, no, no … he’s seeking what he thinks is missing from his seemingly happy yet monotonous life.
Anyway, he’s looking for a charming and exquisitely pretty woman, isn’t he?
Oh, no, no, no … he’s searching for what he believes is missing from his family life.
What is the beautiful woman staring with a lost expression?
Her name is Paulina played by Jennifer Lopez. She is a dance teacher, a well-known figure on the ballroom dance circuit who once competed at the world-famous Blackpool international dance competition. However, she lost the championship years before.
I see … So, Paulina also thinks that something is missing in her life, huh?
Kato, are you saying that John is seeking a second world while Paulina is trying to regain a once-lost world?
Yes and no… Actually, Paulina wasn’t aware of her once-lost world. She’d rather stay away from it. But unconciouslly, she knows that she has to do something to overcome the past failure.
Does she face the music?
Yes, but not until she realizes that John now falls in love with dance itself.
Why is that?
Well… once John woos Paulina, but she icily tells John she hopes he has come to the studio to seriously study dance and not to look for a date.
Does Paulina notice John’s seriousness?
Yes, she does as time goes by. Inspired by John’s enthusiasm, Paulina now takes up competing again and decides to leave for Blackpool.
I see… but how come you viewed the Japanese version as well.
Actually, I saw the Japanese version first, then I noticed that Peter Chelsom did a remake out of it.
Which one did you like?
Of course, I like the Japanese version more than the American.
Why is that?
Shall We Dance? (1996)
I enjoyed the Japanese version so much that the American remake looks shadowed in the back of my mind simply because ballroom dancing in Japan is considered “weird” or “sissy” among men, if not the Japasene in general, while it is not abnormal at all in the States. For a Japanese man to join the dancing class, therefore, he needs a great deal of courage and expects a lewd remark from his coworkers once they finds it out.
Yes… So, a Japanese man in the class always feels tension and senses a spying eye around as if a gay man had to have a courage to come out when worse comes worst. I can’t feel this tension at all in the American remake.
Compared to her counterpart in the Japanese version, Paulina doesn’t show her character change in such a dramatic way as Mai does in the Japanese version.
So you dislike the American version, don’t you?
No, not really, the remake offers pleasures of its own in the sense that it focuses more on entertainment rather than on serious character study. For example, the end scene shows everyone afterwards: Link and Bobbie are now together; Chic, who was actually gay, dances at a club with his partner; Miss Mitzi finds a new partner, and they are happy together; John and Beverly are back to normal and dance in the kitchen; Vern, newly married to his fiancée, dances with her at their wedding; the private investigator that Beverly hired, starts up dance lessons; and Paulina, with a new partner, competes at Blackpool, the competition that she had lost years before.
… sounds interesting!
Anyway, Diane, when you see the movie, I think you’ll feel like taking ballroom dancing lessons at West End Community Center.
If you’ve got some time,
Please read one of the following artciles:
Hi, I’m June Adams.
I also like the Japanese version better because it is quite funny and emotional as shown in the following clip.
Sugiyama’s life changes once his classes begin.
Rather than Mai, his teacher is Tamako Tamura (Reiko Kusamura), who becomes an important mentor to him.
He meets his classmates: Tōkichi Hattori (Yu Tokui) who joined to impress his wife, and Masahiro Tanaka (Hiromasa Taguchi) who joined to lose weight.
Sugiyama also meets Toyoko Takahashi (Eriko Watanabe), another student.
He further discovers that one of his colleagues from work Tomio Aoki (Naoto Takenaka) is a regular at the dance studio.
Aoki, who is balding and mocked at work for his rigid ways, is revealed to be leading a secret life as a long-haired (via a wig) ballroom dancer.
Though distant from her, the classes increase his infatuation for Mai.
His secret thus becomes twofold: not only must he hide the lessons from his wife, he must also hide them from his friends and colleagues as it is considered embarrassing according to traditional Japanese customs to participate in Western ballroom dance.