Blind Bombing, Filmed by a Bat (2019) review [Japan Cuts 2020]

 Introduction

Kota Takeuchi is man of many creative talents, but whatever he does – be it painting, filming, or sculpting – it is related to historical or contemporary topics. He is most renowned as being the representative of the man of the iconic webcam performance Finger Pointing Worker (2011). In his latest short, he explores the history of the Japan’s balloon bombs.

Japan Cuts 2020

Review

Blind Bombing, Filmed by a Bat is a narrative about a lesser-known historical fact, the use of balloon-bombs by the Japanese army in an attempt to attack the united states. With his narrative Kota Takeuchi does not only offer an overview of the various deadly incidents and attacks that happened with the balloon-bombs, but also a hazy meditation about the link between hands and eyes and the intricate connection between language, historical monuments, and the ground.

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Takeuchi’s meditation on hands and eyes, which offers a certain structure for his narrative, is   function of a multiple evocative comparisons, a comparison between bats and humans – bats have echolocation, humans have hands and tools, a comparison between humans and the yokai named Te-no-Me – both use their hands as eyes, the one figuratively, the other literally, and a contrast between humans and balloon bombs – bombs have no eyes nor hands. Takeuchi’s reliance on association furthermore allows him to make a side exploration of American air-raids (bombs and leaflets), simulated atomic-bombs, and the melt-down in Fukushima in 2011.

Takeuchi’s composition is a sort of collage. Far from telling a story with his slow-moving drone shots (evoking the balloon trajectories), shaky-framed interview segments, and photographs (of documents, monuments, … etc.), he combines his diverse imagery to visually support the story about Japanese balloon-bombs as told by the different (computer-based ) voice-overs.

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Even though the collage-montage works, Takeuchi’s Blind Bombing, Filmed by a Bat remains a very rough cinematographical product. Takeuchi’s composition lacks consistency, features seemingly unmotivated compositional choices, and suffers, in the case of the drone-shots, from jarring pace-changes. The over-reliance of computer-generated voices makes the narrative difficult for the spectator to keep his attention. Even though these these computer-generated voices may feel natural at first, the unnatural aspect that structurally marks them tires the spectator and drains him from his energy. It is therefore not surprising that the best parts of Takeuchi’s narrative are the interview-segments as such – those segments with natural voices, voices full of intonation.

These interview segments luckily reveal that Takeuchi is a director able to integrate his creative ideas – his evocations and associations – in a natural way. In a very subtle and pleasing way, he augments these segments by subtle referring to the importance of hands for humans and the use of hands as eyes.

Blind Bombing, Filmed by a Bat (2019) by Kota Takeuchi

While it commendable that Takeuchi found a way to make the exploration of the balloon-bombs into more than a dry concatenation of facts, but Blind Bombing, Filmed by a Bat, at this moment, does not fully satisfy. Cinematographical problems and limitations hamper Takeuchi’s realization of his vision. It might work as a proposal for a future project – in order to secure funds, but, as of now, Takeuchi’s meditation on hands and eyes and the intricate connection between language, historical monuments, and the ground, fails to truly engage the spectator.

 

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