Oh, boy. Like most dog movies, this is a tear jerker, so be prepared. The story follows a lonely, bookish bureaucrat who takes it upon himself to identify the body of a homeless man and his dog discovered on the outskirts of town following the melting of the snow. While one element of this story plays tribute to Hachi, the movie is essentially about relationships and the need to have purpose in one’s life. The absence of either being the downfall of even the strongest character. Star Watching Dog is designed to sell boxes of tissues, as it explores the life of a civil servant who grew up with a dog which he had carelessly mistreated, and to this day still bears the emotional scars of his cruel act.
While the Manga is told from the dog’s point of view, there are moments in the film in which we are taken into Happy’s subconscious, as he remembers his owner. The tale of the man is never told directly, but rater through the recounted stories of those that he has met along the way. Easily, the most emotionally involved film I have seen all year, although you’ll be pleased to note aside from the odd bit of dust in my eye I managed to keep it bottled up! But here’s where the filmmakers took out their cheat sheet after they have exhausted a lot of scenes with the very obvious message that kids don’t make good pet owners, as they are in it for a pet so long as the latter stays cute, and will outlive their welcome once the animals grow up, since they will be other distractions in life while growing up. If you’ve seen Toy Story, then you may already be all too familiar with this theme.
This is where Star Watching Dog is at its strongest. It may be a manipulative weepy, but it isn’t one without a social message. Even though “Star Watching Dog” is sold as a dog show, I applaud the filmmaker here for at least making a worthy effort in showcasing the touching relationship between the two parties and also the humane side of the owner though the finale act is where the dam starts to break apart and it’s “Happy” who stole the show. This is also where we begin to see flashbacks to his earlier life with his wife and daughter reveal, and this is a far more compelling character aspect that that of a saint traveling the roads of Japan.
Star Watching Dog will inevitably leave you crying, especially if you are a god lover. Is it a good film? Well, aside from a few strange narrative choices, I would high recommend it. The initial projection of a homeless man meeting a lonely death out in the open is gradually given a facelift all should we say a true fuller picture of what actually drive him to a state of disparity. It can be a slow burn but the film unwraps quit nicely and reveals many story components that are touching. End of the day, the movie is nothing out of the box but a simple heartfelt drama aimed to tug at your heartstrings.