Queer Japan is a documentary that will open a lot of eyes. It has become a meme about how oddly sexualized the country can be. Many assume schoolgirl costumes and harem animes are an ingrained part of the culture. So. It will come as a surprise to some when it is stated early on, Japan is going through an LGBTQ boom.
The film is not a history of the LGBTQ community in Japan. Instead, it is a bright and colorful look at contemporary Japan. Queer Japan looks at a number of people across genders and sexuality. It also examines how they live their lives in a country where it is still considered wrong to be gay or trans.
It is a heartwarming documentary. Japan is a country steeped in culture and tradition. It is great to see the island nation seems to be making progressive strides. This is not what makes Queer Japan such a powerful film, however.
The real beauty in the movie lies in the people interviewed and the stories they tell. The interviews are with people across the LGBTQ spectrum. From the gay erotic manga artist who travels the world to the trans writer of video game strategy guides, Queer Japan is filled with queer individuals living their best lives.
This is where the documentary truly excels. From the upbeat soundtrack to the bright title cards, Queer Japan is filled with a sense of fun. There is a feeling of joy and excitement to it all. Director Graham Kolbeins visits different cities across Japan and talks to people from walks of life. Along with being an exuberant watch, the documentary shows that queer individuals cannot be identified by checking off boxes. Just like anyone else, each person is an individual who cannot be identified at a glance.
Queer Japan is a brave documentary about LGBTQ indivinduals in the country. The film touches on the resentment and hesitation shown by the Japanese government towards the queer community. Graham Kolbeins showcases the bravery and resolve of the individuals featured, but makes it a point to show the vibrancy and fun of their lives.
Queer Japan opens nationwide via theatrical at home and On Demand December 11
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