Kanikosen is a giant crab cannery boat crisscrossing the Sea of Okhotsk in search of greater and greater quantities of shellfish. Conditions on the boat are so herrendous commit suicide to reincarnate in a good rich family seems to be the only way these people see a way out. However there is a a man who refuses to just lament the fate, and try to take things into their own hands and begin to live here and now. Reading a synopsis on another website they brought up an interesting point. Why does a novel about exploited workers on a crab cannery boat, published 80 years ago by a young communist writer, become a hot movie property now? Well, for a number of reasons.
In these, ‘hard economic’ times that seem to be on the up & up, we can still relate to the conditions of these characters. It reflects the role of the workers of industrial production and puts us on a front row as a specter of Soviet socialism that threatens the fabric of the Japanese free market economy while it collides with the modern day reality of a post-communist, capitalist Russia. With that said, if a film about political conflicts doesn’t interest you, then I would avoid.
Crab Cannery Ship plays more as exercise than drama. In its incarnation as a 21st century, recession-era satire on worker exploitation and the intersection between globalism and geopolitics, this film is beyond mystifications. It is hard to review this film since I can’t rate the film on the usual merits of acting and plot. The film is set during the height of Hirohito’s Imperial Japan, confined almost completely within the ship. So scenery changes don’t happen often. I haven’t read the novel this film was based off but I guaruntee you, as a historical film, it isn’t very accurate. I think the director intended to concentrate of making it flashy rather than digging deep into the heart source material.
Due to the film never leaving the ship, the film is rather lacking in visual inventiveness. Imagine if Titanic never left a room in the ship, it would be kind of like that. All in all, this is a very interesting film, but not necessarily a good one, if that makes sense. The director said he wanted to reach out to people and in that sense make it more ordinary and less political, but in that aspect I think he failed because it was only the historial accuracies and inaccuracies that stayed with me after this film ended. If a manic manga-style, two-dimensional adaptation of a once-famous Japanese-Communist novel sounds like your cup of tea, trust me: It is.