The unfortunate side-effect, some may say deliberate outcome, of internet commerce is the slow eradication of small, privately owned shops and boutiques. The convenience provided by massively supplied retail sites like Amazon has strangled the ability for smaller stores to compete, at least on price. But recently, there has been a counter-reaction to digitalization in the form of the rediscovery of all things analog; from vinyl records and cassette tapes, to hand-crafted items sold in limited quantities, people are beginning to seek out and support local businesses and artisans. While Japan has always valued a culture of craftmanship, modern city development among other socio-economic factors are contributing to the disappearance of literal “mom-n-pop stores”. Some still can thrive in large metropolises such as Tokyo, but the CD/Record store and the book store are becoming rare sites in small towns. Those which manage to stay in business, do so more out of the owner’s personal passion rather than actual business profit.
Tanaka Toshinori’s Super Local Hero tells the story of one such owner, Nobue Kasuhiko who runs a quaint CD shop in the town of Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture. The documentary is conceived not so much as a denunciation of globalization or digitalization, but rather a celebration, a reaffirmation of people power, or in the case of Nobue, “person power.” Here is a man who spends most of his time away from his own shop, helping others in the community, organizing independent music events, or just working multiple jobs to keep that very shop open. So when he is visited upon by a bit of misfortune, those he had dedicated so much time and effort helping for no other reason than his selflessness, returned the favor.
This is not a “feel good” movie per se, but the audience will undoubtedly be left with similar emotions due to its affirmation of the most basic and essential element of conducting ourselves whether personally or in business: “giving a damn.” For more details and contact information, check out the English-language homepage.