Suzuki’s “K Missing Kings” elevates anime; “Love Child” documents tragedy

By Andrew Hamlin
Northwest Asian Weekly

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K Missing Kings

“K Missing Kings,” an anime directed by Shingo Suzuki and coming to the Grand Illusion Cinema August 1st, begins in big-city rain. The big city is probably Tokyo, but its endless skyscrapers, multicolored, could be any major-league cityscape on Earth.  The rain, though, carries the resonance of master Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, who claimed the torrential Japanese rain as his own.

Through the rain, the viewer sees a solitary youth standing on a roof of a very large building. He wears an elaborate costume which suggests retro-Goth style, as well as the uniforms required by certain private schools. Stylish a figure as he cuts, he then pushes his glasses up his nose, a classic nerd move.  Raindrops, or maybe tears, move down his face. This, too, suggests an antecedent,  the classic “tears in rain” speech from “Blade Runner.”

As the action progresses, though, the film establishes its own territory, rhythms, and contexts.  It is based on the anime series developed by director Suzuki, who also furnished the character designs, and the GoHands anime studio. However, it establishes fresh territory by introducing new characters and new situations. The young people exhibit, by turns, all the crispness of military operatives, and the vulnerabilities of the young experiences adult emotions for the first time.

“Love Child,” directed by Seattle native Valerie Veatch, has a free screening at SIFF Cinema Uptown on July 23rd and debuts on HBO on July 28th.  Unlike “K Missing Kings,” the “Love Child” documentary tells the shocking and disheartening true story of a South Korean couple who let their premature baby starve to death in 2010. They spent up to 12 hours a day online playing a game called Prius, where, in a devastating bit of irony, they were raising a virtual child that they seemed to care for more than their real-life infant.

After fleeing Seoul, the couple, Yoo-chul Kim and Mi-sun Choi, were eventually captured in Suweon.  Their trial was the first time the controversial issue of internet addiction, or Internet Addiction Disorder, faced a legal challenge. A post-film group at the SIFF Cinema Uptown screening will feature Ms. Veatch herself; John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile and the film’s executive producer; and Cosette Rae, co-founder and clinical director of the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program. (end)

For more information on these programs, consult www.grandillusioncinema.org and http://www.siff.net/cinema/love-child.

Andrew Hamlin can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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