"Japan lost the war. We don't have a country anymore."
"I can't grow up to be an admiral anymore so I'll have to become a gangster!"
Some of the main characters:
First we open with the Emperor's Radio Address announcing Surrender.
This is followed by clips of MacArthur's arrival, the surrender ceremonies on the Missouri, other GIs landing, scenes of returning, repatriated soldiers.
Of course, the school is a special "site," a kind of touchstone or "home base" throughout the film--note that recurring shot through the doors out into the schoolyard that is repeated numerous times in the film, including the final scene where the is a moment of silence before "In the Mood," kicks in and the credits begion to roll..
It is the site where we see some of the Occupation reforms are enacted:
Equality between the sexes
The importance of a strong moral base that the Sensei (Teacher) provides
A powerful scene occurs when the Teacher, Komako, is in class, presnumably the morning after Tetso has forced himseself on her, and she is telling the students how they must face the future with courage and morals, She is clearly very emotional and the children sense something is wrong.
Shrines also recur as an image, espcially the Kompira Shrine on the island of Shikoku. There is a traditional festival at the end, too.
We see the GIs land and do their thing at the battery. In a bit of comic relief, the children speculate openly about what they have overheard the elders say: Americans have large penises. We also see how they interact with Japanese culture a little.
We see old-style theater performances updated to incorporate contemporay events and issues.
We see the modern bar and "pan-pan" scene (mizu-shobai). We could recall Dower's description in the early chapters of the kasutori culture, etc.
We also have the "good things" and the "bad things" going on in the film:
Komako-sensei, an anchor, a moral compass, embodies what is good and strong; the future
Nature, the environment
The gangster, hoodlum crowd
Masao and Kompira Shrine
Dafffodil fields, rebuilding Japan
Drugs, Alcohol, Gambling
Youth, "spirit," Baseball!
Unhealthy Relationships, "Mizu-shobai," the night life, prostitution
Love, both young love and adult love
Selfishness, greed, materialism
Of course, most of all, we see humor and warmth at a time when the world is being turned upside down.
But starting with MacArthur’s Children, continuing with Childhood Days and Setouchi Moonlight Serenade, and culminating with Spy Sorge, Shinoda has increasingly turned to representing Japan’s wartime and immediate postwar experience. He has stated that Spy Sorge is the culmination of his ideas on this modern history, and that it will be his last film.
In Spy Sorge, director Shinoda Masahiro takes on one of Japan’s most infamous spy incidents. During World War II, a spy ring organized by Richard Sorge, a handsome and debonair employee of the German embassy in Tokyo, passed on crucial Japanese government and military secrets to the Soviets, ones that would have profound impact on the outcome of the war. He was caught and executed in November 1944, but only at a point when he could brazenly declare, “There are no more secrets in Japan left to steal!” His main Japanese collaborator, Ozaki Hotsumi, became material for movies, in particular Kurosawa Akira’s postwar masterpiece No Regrets for Our Youth (Waga seishun ni kui nashi, 1946). Ten years in the planning, Spy Sorge wields a multi-national cast featuring Ian Glen and Motoki Masahiro, locations in Berlin and Shangai, as well as expert computer graphics to recreate the historical context and convey the immense scope of the incident. Spy Sorge is Shinoda Masahiro’s epic interpretation of modern international history.