The movie "Confessions" and thoughts

15 Dec

Apple watched a Japanese movie titled “Confessions” that is released Jun. 2010 in Japan and is on air now in Singapore. It’s directed by Tetsuya Nakashima, who is well-known from his great works such as “Kamikaze Girls” and “Memories of Matsuko”.

===Apple’s post starts from here===

I went to watch this movie yesterday.

What’s it about? Basically, it’s about a teacher’s revenge on her students who murdered her 4-year-old daughter.

Takako Matsu is Yoko Moriguchi, a middle school teacher. And she’s devastated after her daughter’s death. She serves her revenge cold and hard.

The reason why the title of the movie is Confessions is because the movie consists of ‘confessions’ from all parties involved. At the end of the whole movie, you get the complete truth of what really happened.

I just exchanged emails with Kirin about my thoughts after watching this movie, and we touched upon the topic of children/teenagers nowadays.

The movie is chilling to me because…

these kids are 13/14 years old, but they were capable of murder. And…they had juvenile law protecting them, so basically, they could do whatever they want (including murder), and they would not be entitled to a death sentence.

Media nowadays, as well as teachers and parents, talk about kids being different from their own days. Kids nowadays are apparently, ‘more violent’, ‘have no respect for others’, ‘have no manners’Β etc.

Honestly, I was really sick of hearing all of this. In my heart, I don’t think kids have changed. I think all along, teenagers have been rebellious, and, surely, it was the same for our parents’ generations too.

Surely, in our parents’ generation, there were some teenagers who were violent too, who were bullies, and a small minority who did things that were not morally right, like killing and raping etc.

These teenagers, I believe, are in the minority. And through my experience in teaching, I know that even now, the occasional teenager who does unbelievable things like these belongs to the minority. Most of them are influenced by bad friends, who are in turn influenced by bad friends, who have unbelievable problems at home, or weakness in their personalities.

At this age, everyone wants a best friend, or be ‘in the crowd’, to be accepted, more or less. It’s really hard to have no friends, and it’s actually easy to have no friends in school, despite school having hundreds of students whom you can be friends with. Once you offend somebody ‘important’ who happens to be a big bully and who happens to have a huge following; once you do something ‘wrong’; once somebody ‘important’ decides that you’re weird, you’ll have a hard time in school.

For students who have weak personalities, they can be truly hurt and vexed, and they will be capable of things that you probably cannot imagine ‘to make things right’.

I shared with Kirin a true story of one of my students who was always contemplating suicide. Did I think she would really do it? Well, actually there is no certain answer for that. But what I gained from my conversation with this student, is that I knew immediately that she just needed somebody to talk to, to listen to her, to admire her talents. She’s an only child, and she’s lonely. She has many friends in school, but she feels that they are only superficial friends.

I had another student who was a victim of…I wouldn’t say bullying, but he was shunned by his friends because he was a little bit ‘different’. He had Β always been quiet and good though… But then one day, a prank by his friends went too far, and he screamed and cried in agony in class and was sent to the principal’s office to calm down. The principal wanted him to write down his feelings because he was crying so badly and couldn’t speak at all. Anyway, in his piece of essay, he wrote that he wanted to kill everyone (including me actually). Well, of course he didn’t kill anyone, but I believe he’s truly frustrated enough to kill someone if he had the chance.

In both cases, the parents of these 2 students have high expectations of them, and they are trying really hard in school and at home to please their parents. I don’t know if you will agree with me or not, but I think, ultimately, all children want to be the apple of their parents’ eye. I think all of us want our parents to be proud of us. Β I think this is something which many parents don’t understand and this can be additional stress for the child.

Anyway, if a parent is always unavailable, the child may lose the closeness with his parents, and may not have a chance to speak about his feelings, which may then lead to uncertainties and insecurities about himself, and he will naturally look for other people who can help him understand something about himself.

Adults may argue that they went through the same situation too when they were kids. In their generation, parents had more children, and were always outside working to feed everyone in the house. So, contact with parents were minimal as well. But ‘kids those days’ still turned out good, so our parents claim.

However, I think, well, at least our parents had many brothers and sisters and cousins and neighbours to play with and talk to.

If there is any difference in kids nowadays at all, it’s that many of them are lonely. Nowadays, divorced parents are the norm. Being the only child is the norm. Being distanced from cousins and neighbours is the norm. If there is any difference at all, it’s that these kids have no one to really talk to. Which is probably why they are addicted to the internet where there are plenty of people they can talk to. From forums to blogs, to twitter, facebook, chatting platforms, different interest groups, games…many!

I believe it has always been the same from generation to generation. Everyone seeks approval and companionship. No one wants to be lonely or left out. At an age when we don’t have confidence and solid personalities yet, it’s very easy to be manipulated. It may also be tempting for some to bully others to gain a sense of control over things.

Anyway, these are just some of my thoughts that were spurned from watching this movie. I know there’s nothing kawaii and happy about this post, but it’s something I felt like talking about with somebody. Also, I was curious about the bullying scene in Japan’s schools. On the surface, everyone seems happy and obedient, but everytime I come across movies or dramas or mangas about the dark scenes happening in Japanese schools, I’m appalled.

The most common bullying methods I see in these shows and stories are: hiding the victim’s shoes, putting dirty things in the victim’s locker or desk, scribbling mean things in the victim’s textbooks, disposing the victim’s belongings into the bin, spreading rumours about the victim, beating up the victim etc.

I’m curious if these things are indeed true…and how serious is bullying and peer pressure in Japan’s schools?

Here’s the movie’s trailer:

By the way, this movie’s main theme is not really about bullying in schools, but I came out of the theatre, finding myself thinking about my kids, and about the many things they have to face, one of them being bullied in schools.

“Is bullying and peer pressure very evident in schools in Japan?” …This post is to be continued by Kirin. Stay tuned! πŸ™‚


31 Responses to “The movie "Confessions" and thoughts”

  1. Exotic Japan December 15, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    Interesting post. It is always unbelievable to me how group mentality can coalesce to make people who are individually good people into something bad when a group teases someone just to make themselves feel better about themselves.

  2. Patty December 15, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    I think Apple is right that teenagers are rebellious just by the nature of the fact that they are teenagers. Hormones is going everywhere, they started to have a self-realization and they think they are know-it-alls. Bullying, however, is a very real problem in the States as well. I think it's one thing when the big kids picked on the little kids. But it's another when another race, another gender, or another preference come into play. What they don't understand is that at the end of the day, we are all human, and to harm another for an arbitrary reason, is senseless. That said, I do agree w/ the others that kids nowadays is very different than us when we were growing up. We were much more sheltered from death, violence, and sex. Now, people are desensitized by video games, movies, and TV, and looking for the next high. I think thru that experienting is where kids get into trouble. Kids will always be kids, you just hope they grow out of it like we did.

  3. sedonia2 December 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    I liked your post very much. And I feel you're right. Of course children just want to know they're loved and cared about by their parents. If they don't get this crucial care, something happens to them inside. Of course, people have different personalities and deal with that neglect in different ways – some people end up doing bad things while others do the opposite – they don't want anyone else ever to feel so neglected and unloved as they did and do what they can to reach out to others and care about them.

    In the end it's about care – if someone knows their existence matters to another human being and that a person cares about their welfare and takes part in their life, they will respond positively, whether the person giving the care is their parent or not.

    • Apple December 16, 2010 at 7:09 am #

      gawd…this is so true…

  4. Cath December 15, 2010 at 7:34 pm #

    Oh, such a very heavy topic! =( I'm saddened. As a teacher, I play a very important role in spotting and stopping bullies! Sometimes I'll tell the bully to stop being mean or be kind to their friends. And they are shocked. It's as if they didn't realise what they did was actually mean or unkind!
    Anyway, my Samantha started being rude and I found out today it was because of Toy Story (she watches all 3 movies intensively since she got it for her birthday). Sigh… does this give us a clue why kids are more violent these days?

    • kirin December 16, 2010 at 5:14 am #

      It's a fiction, mystery and suspense film, and the story seems a bit too extreme. Of course a teacher should not revenge like this, and such thing is not usual in a daily life in Japan. It's Apple's trigger post to think of bullying in Japan.

      BTW, glad you went back safe and sound. πŸ™‚
      Samantha is just learning and I think you are doing really well as a mother.

    • Apple December 16, 2010 at 7:15 am #

      Hi Cath! I was looking forward to your comment because I know you are a teacher too. ^^ And yes, like your students, most of my young students sometimes have no idea that their idea of 'fun' can hurt someone else so badly. Usually it's a happy ending. Like, they apologise, forgive each other, and sometimes even become good friends! When I see such things, I feel very very very happy!!! But after watching this movie, I caught myself wondering too if I'm a stupid teacher who sees only the surface of things, things I only want to see…. >"<


      Which part of Toy Story made your daughter rude??? I'm curious! Because Disney animation area usually very good, aren't they?

  5. Dior December 15, 2010 at 10:20 pm #

    I am very curious to learn about the social dynamic in japanese schools. Here in America bullying has gotten much media attention after various unrelated suicides of young gay teens occurred within weeks of each other. This post does hit the issue to its core, children wanting to connect with someone else. I think most of these issues do go back to children feeling lonely or neglected. And in some ways teens want approval, whether it is from their peers or parents. How serious is bullying in Japan? Are there other issues such as drugs? Also why do kids bully? are they just as lonely as their victims too?

    • kirin December 16, 2010 at 8:42 am #

      I think many kids feel lonely and confused. Of course I am not a specialist to this issue, I only wrote a little bit more of what's going on in schools in Japan in the next post. As for drugs, unfortunately we see public ads that tell kids not to do it. Ads like this were not seen when I was a kid. 😦

  6. kari December 16, 2010 at 4:37 am #

    first of all, i think japan has a morbid obsession with these kinds of things, and so they enjoy making entertainment on these topics.also, i don't think that young people are more or less crazy than they have been in the past. like you said, it depends on the environment they are raised in.

    that said, in japan there is soooo much pressure put on kids from a really young age, that i think it's why some people tend to "snap" and do these incredibly crazy things like committing suicide or murdering for no reason. kids know that they shouldn't have to deal with it, but at the same time, there is no escape.

    i dunno, it's just a really hard issue. i saw the preview for that movie about a month ago and at that time, i remembered thinking that i must've understood wrong (because my japanese isn't very good) because i thought the woman said "you guys killed my daughter" to the kids in the classroom. i guess not. :/ i definitely wont be going to see that movie though, and i really don't find that kind of thing entertaining. it's just disturbing to me…

    • Apple December 16, 2010 at 7:21 am #

      Hmm…I think you should watch this movie! I think it's slightly different from other 'morbid entertaining' movies that Japan sometimes has. I don't know how to explain very well… At the end of the movie, you would just feel sorry for the kids whose main need and desire are actually so basic…

  7. kirin December 16, 2010 at 5:38 am #

    FYI, let me add that this is a mystery film and complete fiction. Please do not misunderstand that this is exactly what's happening in the everyday life in Japan. It's impossible that a teacher revenges on her students like this.

    As you all know, this is a heavy topic and so Apple and I discussed if it's appropriate to write about this topic on TKE, and I decided to do so because I cannot just tell only good things about Japan. Some TKE readers are in love with Japan and dreaming of moving to Japan. As a Japanese blogger I thought it's fair to share some true stories that our society has, only once in a while, while most of the other time we prefer happy and peaceful information from Japan.

    It's a challenging post, which I understand. You may like or dislike a post like this. But I want to make TKE more insightful.
    That's why I daringly decided to include a post like this or a post about our stifling business culture

    I'd love to hear your opinions! Thanks!! πŸ˜€

    • Apple December 16, 2010 at 7:21 am #

      I can't wait to read your follow-up post actually! Haha! ^^

    • kari December 17, 2010 at 6:18 am #

      oh yeah, of course i know. but the fact that there are so many similar things in japanese entertainment is rather disturbing and makes me feel like it reflects at least to some degree how japanese teens are feeling alienated. in fact, i'm reading a japanese book now about a boy who just killed his mom, for pretty much no reason other than she just pissed him off. it just kinda baffles me.

      also, i teach at a JHS here in Japan and most of my kids are good, mentally healthy kids. so it's not like i'm making this negative image of Japan for myself. ;p

      also, i think it's a great initiative to discuss more negative japan things on your blog. it makes for interesting discussion!!

      • kirin December 19, 2010 at 4:45 am #

        Thank you kari, I'm glad you understand my thoughts.
        Yes, it's really baffling to hear a child can easily kill his parents or grandparents with no mercy. Every time I hear news like that, I discuss with my husband if the boy never remembers how his mother raised him, how he spent years with her, and all the good things and fun memories he had shared with her, before he thinks of killing her only because of one time piss-off incident. 😦

  8. kirin December 16, 2010 at 8:46 am #

    Sorry about the trailer, which I just added.
    It seems the original trailer has gone while we kept editing the post. (*_*)

  9. Mekahel December 16, 2010 at 11:49 pm #

    Someone mentioned that teenagers are rebellious by nature and I don't believe that is true. I think that if people hear things like "everyone does that" or "that's just by nature" they tend to do things because they believe that's how things are. I will be twenty years old in a little more then a week and I have never went through a rebellious stage in my life. My sister did and my friends all have as well but I never did.
    I'm was raised by a traditional Southern family. My mother raised me the way her mother raised her, my grandmother raised her kids the way her mother did, raising methods in my mother's family, I think, haven't changed in a few hundred years. I lived around my mothers family for 3 years. Some of my earliest memories I can recall are from that period in my life so I definitely understand when Apple wrote that people don't have siblings or other family to spend time with anymore. I'm not an only child, and neither is any of my family but almost everyone I know is.
    On the matter of parents stressing their kids unintentionally by making a child think they have to exceed at everything to the highest level is also another matter I've never experienced. My mother always encouraged us to go for whatever we wanted to. To achieve something was for our benefit, not hers so she always supported whatever we wanted to do.
    I was bullied in school, which lead me to being home-schooled. many people ask me do I regret not staying in public school and I'm always quick to answer with a "No" because I learned a lot more then I think I would have in public school. Some people do always mention that that is the reason I never experienced things like other children.
    I do agree that most people just want some good, positive attention. We put so much pressure on being perfect no-a-days that if there is even the tiniest thing different about you people will find a way to use it negatively against you. I do wish children would come to understand that bullying doesn't last forever and not being accepted by a group of other people isn't the end of the world.

    • kirin December 19, 2010 at 5:01 am #

      Hi Mekahel,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I also received an email from one of the TKE readers that she also was bullied at school and so was home-schooled. I think home-school is a good idea, although it's not popular (or not even allowed?) in Japan.
      (I've never heard of it in Japan.) Perhaps parents cannot teach well in Japan? They are too busy working outside?

  10. blooomzy December 17, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    I really loved this review, I have wanted to see this movie for a while!
    I was talking to a Japanese friend about this the other day and she told me how one of her friends became Hikkikomori because of bullying during their time at school. It's incredibly upsetting and very worrying D:

    • kirin December 19, 2010 at 5:04 am #

      I'm relieved to hear your friend is fine now. Some people who went through 'hikikomori' sometimes cannot go back to school and even to work, after all. It's a sensitive issue. BTW, the DVD of this movie will be on release end of Jan. or so in Japan. ^ ^;

      • blooomzy December 20, 2010 at 6:03 am #

        It's very sad and a serious subject! I am going to do a presentation on it, as it's something I feel is important right now.

        Oh thank you! I may have to buy it, and practise my Japanese haha

    • Apple December 20, 2010 at 4:07 am #

      oh… 😦 i'm upset to hear about her friend becoming hikkikomori…

  11. barbara December 18, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    I am a high school teacher, ages 14-18. I just wanted to say that I appreciate that you took the risk to post the topic.

    • Apple December 20, 2010 at 4:08 am #

      oh…thank you…. >"<

  12. nananaw December 19, 2010 at 2:04 am #

    really good topic πŸ˜€ talking about bullying and the horrible consequences is important teenager can be so mean sometimes

    • Apple December 20, 2010 at 4:09 am #

      thank you. πŸ™‚ But it's not only teenagers right? Children do it too…and adults too…

      • kirin December 20, 2010 at 11:54 am #

        I agree with you Apple. Bullying is happening at work place too, in Japan. 😦

  13. xiao hui December 19, 2010 at 4:36 am #

    Thanks for the review!! I have been wanting to watch this movie after my cousin recommended it to me. Is this move abit like battle royal 1, whereby students kill others etc? Btw many people say kids are becoming more violent,have no manners,etc. I think it is may be due to some games and media they have been expose to since young. However i think that people from the older generations are generally the same as the younger generations. Even though there are quite a few slashing incidents in Singapore (some involving gangs) recently that are done by youths and many people feel that those youth are very violet and do not think before they act .I also read in the newspaper that gang fights , activity ,fighting incidents were more common in the 1970s and 80s.

    • Apple December 20, 2010 at 4:13 am #

      Exactly xiao hui! That is why I wrote that I don't think the younger generation is any different from the older generation. I think everyone goes through this rebellous-gangsta phase… When I wrote this, I was also thinking about the flourish of gangs in the 70s and 80s. This was what made me think that teenagers from all generations are more or less the same.

      Anyway, I didn't watch Battle Royal, so I don't know what it is about. You should try watching this Confessions. It's not a senseless slashing show. It will make you ponder about certain things. thanks for your comment. πŸ™‚

  14. jianing23 August 25, 2011 at 1:45 am #

    OH MAN. i saw that movie and it was just amazing! i couldnt move my eyes off the screen for a moment. a real beautiful yet thrilling movie!
    It really opened my eyes to how twsited some ppl can get.
    really recommendded!!!!

    • kirin August 25, 2011 at 8:09 am #

      Oh you watched it! (0w0) After all I didn't feel like watching it, haha…

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