Tokyo Drifter (Tokyo Dorifuta) sees second collaboration between director Tetsuaki Matsue and singer-songwriter Kenta Maeno. Unlike 2009’s Live Tape (Raibu Tepu), this time Maeno travels through Shibuya to Ginza under the dimmed neon lights of Tokyo. Shot on a rainy night, only couple of months after Great Tohoku earthquake, the effects of power saving measures due to shortages can be seen clearly. Whether you’ve been to Tokyo or seen in films, you have never seen it like this, especially places like famous Shibuya crossing.
We follow charismatic Kenta Maeno through this unfamiliar darkness of Tokyo, as he sings with his guitar about life, love, women and Tokyo, his upbeat and occasionally angry remarks are ignored by passerby’s. It is shot at very low-def intentionally, this helps with capturing the mood of this recently shaken metropolis. Blurry, dark and shaky images turn previously easily recognisable places into less familiar, more sketchy silhouettes. We observe through the night as he eats his noodles, get some fuel and sings even while riding his bike. Moving through the city is the main theme. Particularly, shots of his walking through a rail-crossing and later painting like backdrop on a H&M’s store windows are very notable.
This tone-down version of a redefined Tokyo seems to be able to bring out emotions of unity and hope unlike usual isolation it imposes on its habitants.