TAMPOPO blu-ray review

Germany Region B blu-ray

1080p Widescreen 1.85:1

Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (original)

German Dolby Digital 2.0 (dub)

Subtitles: English, German

IMDB

 

MOVIE: 10

VIDEO QUALITY: 8.5

AUDIO QUALITY: 8

ENGLISH SUBTITLES: 9.5

EXTRAS: 2

 

The perfect movie aka Tampopo has finally been released on English-subtitled Blu-ray! If you have a Blu-ray player that can play Region B Blu-rays, I recommend buying this cult classic from Germany right away before it becomes out of print. If I had to list my top favorite five movies of all time, Tampopo certainly makes the cut. Not only extremely rewatchable, Tampopo is the best Japanese film ever made.  Many people may think that Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai is the best Japanese movie ever? I don’t know about that. I think those are the same people who say that Citizen Kane is the best American film ever made. Both films are great but just a bit overrated. Tampopo is on the opposite spectrum of being the most underrated Japanese masterpiece ever made. Either way, do not miss out on Juzo Itami’s Tampopo!

Tampopo is a film about people who love food. The main story follows two truck drivers, Goro (Tsutomu Yamazaki) and Gun (Ken Watanabe) who come across an unpopular ramen noodle shop in the outskirts of Tokyo. The shop is run by Tampopo, a sweet 40-year old widowed mother who doesn’t realize that her business has been failing because she has been serving poor-quality ramen to her customers this whole time. After the two truck drivers save Tampopo’s teenage son from bullies, they are rewarded with a bowl of crummy noodle soup. Feeling pity for Tampopo, Goro tells Tampopo the awful truth about her cooking and takes it upon himself to improve Tampopo’s cooking skills. As Goro and Tampopo team up and figure out methods to create the perfect ramen noodle soup, the couple falls in love. This touching story is also sprinkled with hilarious vignettes of people’s interaction with food: a yakuza and his mistress perform erotic acts with food, a homeless man turns out to be master chef, an old lady sneaks around in a supermarket just to feel the food, a class learns the proper way to eat spaghetti in a restaurant, and many more. Scenes suddenly shift to these vignettes and back to the main story with perfect editing and transitions.

The German Region B Blu-ray is a huge upgrade from any of the previous English-subtitled videos. You can throw out the awful-quality letterboxed USA DVD version. The only other good English-subtitled DVD was the Japanese anamorphic version which you can throw away as well. While this German Blu-ray did not receive a massive restoration, the 1080p 1.85:1 video quality is a revelation. The video has its problems but this is not an upscaled DVD – this movie has finally received the HD treatment and looks beautiful. With increased resolution, there is detail in almost every shot and brings real depth to the image. Flesh tones sometimes lean to the red but look good enough. The image is also very clean and crisp. Bright or day shots look the most amazing. The main negative with the video quality are the blacks – night shots or dark scenes tend to sacrifice shadow detail – there are a few scenes where you will be practically watching a black screen. All things considered this is a pretty great presentation of a catalog film that will most likely not get released on Blu-ray outside of Japan and Germany. The Japanese 2.0 does the job and is totally serviceable. While the audio didn’t get spiffed up, the dialogue is clear and isn’t problematic whatsoever. The English subtitles are excellent. Please note that English subtitles are not advertised on the back cover or in the Blu-ray menu. The English subtitles option only appears when you press the subtitles button during the movie which gives you options of German subs, English subs, or no subs. The only extras are an hour and a half “making of” (in Japanese only with no English subtitles or German subtitles for some strange reason) and trailer. The German Blu-ray comes with a reversible Blu-ray cover with better artwork as shown above.

I really don’t have too many favorite films that I could watch once a week, but Juzo Itami’s Tampopo is one of those rare films that I could watch all the time. I guarantee that you will be hungry while watching this food porn film.

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you for this. There is so little documented information on this Blu-ray version. This movie brings back a lot of memories for me. I saw this movie prior to my tour in Japan while in the military in the mid 90s. Although it was a bit difficult to find, I went to my Amazon account and ordered the German version. I had go to the Amazon German website and I guessed my way through the menus. Luckily, I was able to order the Blu-ray! Considering the shipping cost more than the movie, I only paid $27 US! Thanks again for this wonderful review!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Dave! I’m glad you ordered this Blu-ray. I can’t believe I couldn’t find any useful info about this Blu-ray online as well, which is one of the main reasons I did the Blu-ray review of this masterpiece. 27 bucks for this gem is a steal. Enjoy!


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