Though Japan is not a Judeo-Christian or even particularly “religious” country per se, LGBT issues are, if not morally reprehensible, still socially unaccepted–at least publically–in a patriarchal society where the role of men and women are still maintained. Over the years some transgender men have been able to gain notoriety as well as acceptance as television talent, but one sometimes feels they do so by becoming everyone’s stereotypical friendly “jovial gay;” the “life of the party” everyone laughs with (and at) in TV programs and movies. This leaves the exploration of LGBT issues to smaller, indepedent productions like Tayutau, the feature-length debut by twenty-something director, Yamamoto Aya, who based her screenplay on a conversation she had with a friend who doubted their gender identity.
Kataoka Junko (Jun), whose emotional identity have been at odds with her biological identity, shares a room with her friend since high school, Kinoshita Akari, who doesn’t know the father of the fetus growing in her stomach. After being dumped by an older companion, Jun now worries she will live her life alone. That’s when she discovers Akari is considering aborting the fetus. “Instead of aborting the child, I’d like to raise it,” Jun says. The absurd proposal shocks even Jun, but without alternative Akari consents to the idea and the two begin a life preparing for the day the child will be born. Then one day, Jun meets Yoshida, a man born as a woman until a sex change operation, who explains he now lives a normal life with a wife. Jun, yearning for Yoshida’s lifestyle, slowly becomes interested in the idea of a sex change. Meanwhile, Akari’s anxiety and detest for the child in her stomach also gradually begins to swell.
An attempt to crowdfund Tayutau did not succeed in reaching its goal, but the campaign gained a bit of notoriety after it attracted the attention of Breath, Inc.’s Kano Yoshinori, producer of Ishii Yuya’s To Walk Beside You and A Man with Style, who stepped up to serve as the movie’s general producer, demonstrating the alternate benefit of crowdfunding to generate awareness if not funds. The movie just completed a successful two week run in Tokyo, with hopefully more to come in the future. Until a popular celebrities openly come out of the closet like Ellen Page and serve as positive role models for young LGBT to lead societal change for them, movies like Tayutau will have to serve as the voice of representation and testimony.
[will replace with English subtitled version if one becomes available]