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Afro Tanaka ("Afuro Tanaka")

North American Premiere
  • Japan
  • 2012
  • 114 mins
  • HD
  • Japanese
  • English (subtitles)
Official Selection, Udine Far East Film Festival 2012

“a laugh-till-you-hurt comedy… precise comic timing that keeps the laughs coming in steady waves” - Mark Schilling, JAPAN TIMES

When Tanaka traded in his messy head of hair for a glorious towering Afro, he finally got respect from the classmates who used to constantly harass him. The problem is, this was the only good decision he’s made in his entire life. He’s made a string of bad choices ever since, the most damaging being dropping out of college. Another would be to have done so while boasting to his friends, claiming to now have ample time to find a girlfriend and lose his virginity, and the three of them making a pact that they must all be going steady when the time comes for one of them to get married. Huge mistake! Now 24 years old, Tanaka receives an invitation to one of his old schoolmates’ wedding, but he is still shamefully single. Worst of all, his pals all have girlfriends and distinctly remember the pact that Tanaka himself initiated. Finding a girlfriend is the only way to save face. For this, however, he will have to overcome his lack of social graces as well as the clumsiness that at best makes him miss out on good opportunities and at worst, makes him look like an incorrigible pervert.

Based on a popular gag manga that sold over 3.6 million copies, AFRO TANAKA, from gifted young director Daigo Matsui, presents one of the funniest and most strangely endearing characters that you will see this year. While Tanaka is certainly a slow-witted lad bursting with hormonal overload, which constantly places him in delicate (and hilarious) situations with the ladies, he is never simply reduced to a rowdy youth with big hair. Those who caught the excellent GACHI BOY at Fantasia in 2008 will recognize screenwriter Masafumi Nishida’s immense talent for carefully crafting marginal characters we can all relate to. However, AFRO TANAKA’s great revelation is Japanese cinema’s rising star Shota Matsuda (HARD ROMANTICKER) in the title role, demonstrating an incredible comic virtuosity, complete with cartoon-like gestures and facial expressions. Matsuda is also well supported by model Nozomi Sasaki (considered one of Japan’s most beautiful women), who plays the lucky lady targeted by our hero’s affections. With its excellent soundtrack, imaginative direction and singular sense of humour, AFRO TANAKA has everything it takes to create total frenzy at Fantasia!

— Nicolas Archambault