After Life

After Life

Japanese with subtitles

Just what happens when we step off this mortal coil? Tunnel of blinding light with Grandmama and Jesus waving at us? Enveloping eternal stillness? Instant return, but to a more appropriate layer of the food chain? All options that have certain attractions. Let’s consider a fourth possibility. You spend a week in a crumbling building with a bunch of amateur film makers. They summarize your entire life in a short film which you then watch for eternity with all other memories zeroed out. Sort of an eternal Alzheimer’s, but with the chance for a Golden Palm from Cannes.

Summarizing your life is never easy, and not always interesting even to yourself. Picking the absolute singular high point is even worse, and not even sex will make the cut for most people. Fortunately the Afterlife staff is there to help you, do a little gentle counseling, and if need be, call up a series of video tapes that neatly summarize your miserable existence year by boring year. If you really, truly can’t pick your existential acme, they even have an option for that as well.

Afterlife melds a gritty true to life look with the idea that even after death, there are responsibilities, friendship, and quite a bit more paperwork than most organized religions lead you to expect. The range of characters slice through today’s spectrum of Japanese archetypes — frustrated salaryman, apple-cheeked grandmother, ditzy teenybopper. Resigned to death, they move into the void with the same boredom we reserve for a 20 minute flight delay to Atlanta. We should all be so happy. Afterlife presents death as it should be — trivial, a little tedious, and not that big a thing to the person most involved.

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