24 March 2006 | MartinHafer
a little uneven but fascinating film
This film gives a fascinating look at life in Japan in the last months of WWII. Dr. Akagi brings a sense of humanity and compassion in an otherwise tired and spiritually bankrupt country. So, while the people are either giving up or shouting jingoistic sayings and insisting the war is NOT lost, he just goes about his job saving lives and crusading within the government for more attention and funding for the Hepatitis outbreak. Throughout the film he is tireless and decent. However, along the way, there are a lot of detours and other characters--some that work and some that tend to distract (such as the scene involving the prostitute and the whale)--taking this movie from a score of 8 or 9 and dropping it to 7. Nevertheless, it's still an excellent film and well worth your time--giving unusual historical insights.
PS--an excellent companion film to this would be FIRES ON THE PLAIN (1959). This film shows Japanese soldiers in the Phillipines just before the country falls to the Americans. It shows the end of the war through the viewpoint of very tired, hungry and broken soldiers.