The World of Kanako follows former police detective Akikazu Fujishima as he searches for his missing daughter, Kanako. Akikazu is a “former” because, a few years ago, he slammed his vehicle headlong into the side of the car in which his wife was getting it on with another policeman. Turns out that slamming his vehicle into other vehicles (and people) is his favorite way of dealing with antagonists. How that car made it to the end of the movie is a testament to Japanese engineering.
Akikazu is a reprehensible guy with a bit of an alcohol and temper problem (which may explain why his wife was in the other car). Of course, she’s not up for mother-of-the-year, having somehow lost-track of their teenage daughter for oh, say, about a week, then decides to call her now ex-husband about it. He’s working as a security guard and has stumbled across three butchered teenagers, so he’s not having the best of days when she calls. In fact, he sort of loses it. How apartments and houses (and ex-wives) can get so thoroughly trashed without SWAT showing up is testament to Japanese sound-proofing. Or Japanese minding of their own business.
Akikazu begins searching for his daughter and, hoo boy, what a search. Butchered teenagers abound, and various police officers and yakuza and seemingly random people express their displeasure on Akikazu. How one man can take so many severe beatings in such a short amount of time without ending up in a coma or the morgue is testament to Japanese genetics. Really, the guy should be dead about forty minutes into the movie.
And what he discovers about his daughter…well, I don’t want to spoil it. Let’s just say that, in comparison, Akikazu is a saint. Which is the stark theme here: even in a world of sheer evil, there are degrees of good. But it’s just degrees. There is only one truly “good” (term used loosely) person in this whole cock-up: Boku, the naïve little twerp in love with Kanako. That’ll teach him.
My favorite character is The Laughing Policeman. His name may or may not have been mentioned somewhere in the middle of a beating or an apartment trashing, but, it’s not really necessary; you’ll know who he is by the ever-present lollipop and too obvious enjoyment of the on-going mayhem. His car-slamming is worth the price of admission alone.
The film does tend to irritate. There are flashback sequences of at least three different time lines (maybe four) and it is a bit difficult figuring out who’s doing what to whom in what order. Also, directors, would you please give up the whole montage thing? Pick an image and stick with it, because the strobe effect can detach retinas. And there is one truly annoying moment when a character, apparently critical to the entire plot, just shows up out of nowhere. Granted, there is a bit of a church montage at the beginning of the film involving this character, but, you’re still asking “Who’s he?” when he appears, at about the end of the movie, I might huffily add. And, yes, the movie is really trying to be Tarantino. Or a seventies exploitation film, take your pick.
But, the rape and murder and rape and beatings and incest and murder and rape and trashing and car slams and rape and murder will make those defects seem unimportant. You’ll be more interested in getting out of the theater alive.