Coming to Paramount Plus in November
Kaoru Ishibashi‘s goal in Omoiyari, A Song Film by Kishi Bashi (his stage name) is not just to reveal where he comes from. Had he announced his new purpose in life while wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses, I’d say it’s one from God. But no, he’s not a Blues Brother. I feel his desire to preach the value of how to do well unto others as you would have them do unto you is heartfelt, and it’s best to listen.
In this excellent documentary is a look back at not only everything he faced growing up but also in what he’s learned from it, so he can teach others how not to repeat history. The title of the film is difficult to translate and although tokhimo.com does a great job at explaining it, I think my comparison to Christian values also nails it.
And for this musician turned filmmaker, what he hopes for this work is to show how he’s rediscovered his heritage and why he wants to sing about it. This talent was part of the new wave band Jupiter One, before becoming a solo act.
What happened to him is a story nearly any foreigner growing up abroad can relate to. The xenophobia that was common in the last century wasn’t just limited to one nation. Although this work focuses on the plight of Japanese Americans, that’s okay. He circles back to how it affects other heritages, and shows how he’s taking part of that movement to show humanity is not as backwards as others claim.
During his youth, he lost touch with who he was as an individual who never visited his home country. His parents immigrated to the United States of America, met and got married, and moved several times. Although he doesn’t reveal how music helped him cope, it’s safe to say it most likely did as he went through school. Although he thought he’d have a career elsewhere, when he took up getting a degree in the arts, a lot changed for him!
In terms of what’s presented, the message he hopes all viewers see and hear will help reshape the future. Like it or not, xenophobia still exists in today’s society. His work recognises how history has shaped it, but as for whether it can all be erased, that’s not a topic which needs to be discussed. In this work, he reveals how he dealt with it while growing up in Virginia. And as for visiting Japan and reaching where he’s at now, it’s heartbreaking when change can’t happen overnight.
As a result, what this filmmaker does is to show his personal journey as he explores all that’s gone on along the Pacific Northwest and how it affected a variety of individuals rather than just a country. What’s presented and what he’s composed after doing his visit to those camps where his people were caged in are eye opening. While I knew some of the stories, what’s added here is new material to me!
The best part of this documentary is in how it recognises the 442nd Infantry Regiment. This segment is important because it explains how Ishibashi got to where he is with the tunes he wanted to write, before travelling to Japan to reconnect with his roots.
What’s heard isn’t all that rock’ n’ roll. Nor is it truly punk. The songs he presents are something between nuwave and transcendental. And after watching Omoiyari, I’m ready to pick up a past album of his and present, just to see how his style has shifted. Before, I had the music of Yanni as my soul food to meditate on, but now I must add Kishi Bari‘s work to my playlist too.
5 Stars out of 5