(aka 'Kabei - Our Mother' or 'Kb')

Directed by Yji Yamada
Japan 2008

 

After the success of his "Samurai Trilogy", renowned director Yamada Yoji draws acclaim and accolades once more with the wartime drama Kabei - Our Mother. Based on Nogami Teruyo's memoirs, Kabei follows a normal, loving family as their innocent, bustling lives are forever transformed by the war. Veteran actress Yoshinaga Sayuri is the picture of dignity and grace as a strong and elegant woman who holds her family together in her husband's absence, while acclaimed actor Asano Tadanobu disappears into the role of an awkward, affable writer who becomes the unlikely hero for a struggling family. Also co-starring Dan Rei from Love and Honor, Kabei is a triumph in humanistic storytelling, breaking hearts with its realistic characters, sensitive depictions, and precious moments of laughter and tears.

Nogami Kayo (Yoshinaga Sayuri) and her husband Shigeru (Bando Mitsugoro), affectionately called "Kabei" and "Tobei" by their daughters, form a small and happy family in 1940s Japan. When Shigeru is imprisoned for political reasons, however, Kayo is left to carry the family as war breaks out in the Pacific. In these dark times, Shigeru's frazzled, kindhearted student Yamasaki Toru (Asano Tadanobu) shows up at the doorstep to offer his help. Devoting his time and heart to supporting the family and fighting for Shigeru's release, Yamasaki develops a strong bond with Kayo, her daughters, and her sister-in-law Hisako (Dan Rei). Kayo stands as a pillar of silent strength through the years of war and strife, taking the trials that come one by one, but not even she can anticipate where her heart lies and fate leads.

Excerpt from YesAsia located HERE

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Theatrical Release: January 26th, 2008

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DVD Review: Strand Releasing - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Strand Releasing - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 2:12:48 
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.7 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English (burned-in)
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Strand Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Previews

DVD Release Date: September 8th, 2009

Keep Case
Chapters: 12

 

Comments:

Strand Releasing has given us a bare-bones dual-layered DVD release of another masterful film by Yoji Yamada.  It is a progressive transfer but sports burned-in English subtitles. I know there is a Japanese edition available but it is very expensive and I don't know how it compares to this one.

The image looks fairly weak - faded, lifeless and dull. Colors seem almost diffused and there are a few SD compression artifacts visible. It's not a stellar image, by any stretch, but having nothing to compare it to I'd just say that I'd like to see this film in Blu-ray. I think Kabei is an important enough film to warrant 1080P. 

Audio is an unremarkable 2.0 channel but the film is passive and doesn't contain an excess of dynamic audio. It's probably not that far off from the way it was produced. The burned-in subtitles are bright yellow.

There are no viable extras only four Strand Trailers.

Home From the Sea remains my favorite Yamada but Kabei is another strong effort from the director most know for the Tora-san series. He seems to have returned to the social drama from the samurai flic and I couldn't be happier. It's quite possible that this may be the best (or even cheapest) edition available for the film but Strand have their nerve at $25.00 although the viewing experience may very well be worth it to many - the bare-bones DVD package presentation is not without it's weak points

Gary W. Tooze

 



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Distribution Strand Releasing - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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