Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 28th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1963
Director: Seijun Suzuki
Writer: Yasutaro Yagi
Cast: Akira Kobayashi, Hiroko Ito, Chieko Matsubara, Daizaburo Hirata, Sanae Nakahara
DVD Released: January 20th, 2004
Approximate Running Time: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese
DVD Release: Home Vision
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: Hanako (Sanae Nakahara), is a naughty looking for amusement. She becomes transfixed on a small time hood, “Diamond” Fuyu (Daizaburo Hirata). Diamond allows Hanako and her two companions to watch while he gets a tattoo. When Diamond screams the other two frightened girls run away, Hanako is stimulated by what she sees. Hanako’s opposite the virginal Tokiko (Chieko Matsubara), is drawn to handsome Katsuta (Akira Kobayashi), of the rival Izu Gang. Katsura is a traditionalist who honor’s the spirit of the Yakuza code. This is difficult because few in his profession still play by the old rules.
With Kanto Wanderer Seijun Suzuki in a radical break with genre custom would set his yakuza film in modern day. In the first scene of the movie Suzuki, shot it entirely in close ups a three-way dialog between talkative schoolgirls that surely caught most genre viewers off guard. Cinematographer Shigeyoshi Mine stirs things up by stylizing selected scenes with theatrical lighting and color effects. Through his use of bright primary colors as backgrounds suddenly turn bright red or blue or yellow with use of filter. The Izu Gang’s last house has just shut down and the Izu Gang’s Boss wants to to chuck yakuza tradition in order to bring in some quick cash selling sell construction rights.
Hanako’s romance with Diamond is put on hold when Tetsu (Keisuke Noro), takes her to a distant hot springs only to sell her into prostitution. Tokiko with the help of Katsuta find the missing girl and they learn that Diamond’s sister Tatsuko Iwata (Hiroko Ito), is married to a crooked gambler Okaru-Hachi (Yunosuke Ito). Katsuta rescues Iwata when it is discovered that she had been cheating for her husband. For his bravery Katsuta is given a long scar running along his cheekbone.
Kanto Wanderer is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Vivid colors with smooth deep black levels that complement Seijun Suzuki’s sense of color. The nearly flawless presentation of this DVD that showcases Seijun Suzuki’s power visual ideas and Home Vision has surpassed all expectations.
The original Japanese mono soundtrack is crisp and clear, and the optional English subtitles are accurate and easy to read. Given the age of the film Home Vision once again has done a superb job on the soundtrack.
Extras are non existent on this DVD. Included are the films original trailer, Seijun Suzuki’s filmography, and informative liners notes written by Tom Mes. Kanto Wanderer explores the results of ones actions that arise from a life upholding the yakuza code. I recommend this fascinating film from a director who always surprises me.