5 Reasons Why Netflix’s ‘Asakusa Kid’ Is Your Holiday Must-Watch | CoolJapan

If you are a fan of the Japanese game show Takeshi’s Castle and the action-thriller film Battle Royale, then you probably heard of Takeshi Kitano. The Japanese actor and movie director, known for his stage name “Beat Takeshi”, is one of Japan’s most successful comedians, having received numerous awards locally and internationally.

But before he hit it big time, Takeshi was a young dreamer in the 1970s who dropped out of college to pursue the art of comedy. Thanks to the help of his colleagues and mentor, he was introduced to show business and earned the needed skills to stand out.

Takeshi’s story of camaraderie, determination, hard work, and success is the main theme of Netflix’s latest Japanese film, Asakusa Kid. The movie directed by Makoto Shinozaki is the perfect definition of a great holiday film — so if you haven’t seen it yet, we give you five reasons why you should watch it today. (Note: There may be spoilers here and there, so read at your own risk!)

It inspires you to chase your dreams

The past couple of years were admittedly challenging, but this shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your dreams. Take it from Takeshi who started as a runaway elevator boy in Asakusa, Tokyo before he became a big-time comedian.

Back in the 1970s, Takeshi (Yuya Yagira) worked in the old strip theatre France-za, with aspirations to become successful in show business. In his downtime, he would sneak into the audience area to watch his boss and would-be mentor Senzaburo Fukami (Yo Oizumi)'s comedy skits.

Grateful for the mentorship opportunity, Takeshi would commit himself to learning everything he can about the art of comedy — even if it meant that he had to rehearse while mopping the floor, recall steps in the comfort room, and memorise lines while waiting in the elevator.

Hard work indeed pays off, as Takeshi makes his stage debut with the help of Fukami.

It reminds you to always look back to where you came from

As people strive for success, many tend to get lost in fame and money. That’s why this holiday season, remind yourself of what's truly important and take inspiration from Takeshi’s story!

At a time when Japanese entertainment made a transition from stage skits to TV shows, Takeshi and Fukami faced conflict when the former expressed plans to bring comedy to television. Fukami, who had vowed to bring back audiences to theatres, refused to find reason in Takeshi’s decision. This led to the two characters going their separate ways and pursuing their ambitions independently.

Yuya Yagira (left) and Yo Oizumi (right) star as young Takeshi Kitano and his mentor Senzaburo Fukami in Netflix’s original film, Asakusa Kid. (Photo from: Netflix)

Despite the misunderstanding, both Takeshi and Fukami remained supportive of one another in their own little ways. Takeshi, for the most part, stayed grateful to his master even when he was already a big-time comedian. Talk about not losing sight of people who truly matter!

It makes you root for each character

Asakusa Kid makes sure that each character will resonate with you, and it does so beautifully. Of course, we have Takeshi who reminds us that hard work pays off and Fukami who inspires us to stay passionate; but aside from these two, the supporting characters are also worth rooting for.

There’s Fukami’s wife, Mari (Honami Suzuki), who is the exact embodiment of unconditional love. She is supportive of her husband’s ambitions and never left his side when he needed it most. She is also an independent woman, as she never just relied on her husband’s finances and made things work for her family despite the challenges.

Then there’s Chiharu (Mugi Kadowaki), who reminds us of the dreamer within us. Just like many of us, Chiharu has her own dreams that she had to forego due to circumstances. Still, her passion for singing never left her, as she secretly practices when no one is around and hopes to be acknowledged someday for her talent.

It takes you on a tour of 1970s Tokyo

Since international travel is still restricted due to the pandemic, why not go on a virtual tour of 1970s Tokyo instead? Think neon lights, retro beats, and ​​dilapidated streets — one that is far from the big city that Tokyo is known for today. (Read: How To Enjoy Tokyo As A Solo Traveller)

Asakusa Kid perfectly captures these and more — all thanks to its creative team and powerhouse actors. Throughout the film, viewers get to travel back in time and engage in a visual feast of old Tokyo. Not to mention, we also get to see life in downtown Japan and how locals coped with challenges of industrialisation.

Asakusa France-za Engeijyo Touyoukan inherits the flow of the historical France-za till now at Rokku Broadway District in Asakusa, Tokyo. (Photo from: ニックジャガー)

It offers a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience

Of course, a film about Takeshi wouldn’t be complete without the glitz and glamour! As it should, Asakusa Kid will push you to the edge of your seat (or even have you dancing to the beat!) with its grandiose performances.

From tap dancing in the streets to singing on a rotating stage with confetti falling, the film’s cast has lots of surprises hidden up their sleeves — so much so that you won’t even realise two hours have gone by.

If you want to get a glimpse of what the performances are like, watch the official trailer below and prepare to groove to the beat.