Screened as part of NZIFF 2003

No One's Ark 2002

Baka no Hakobune

Directed by Yamashita Nobuhiro

Japan In Japanese with English subtitles
111 minutes 35mm


Mukai Kosuke


Yamashita Nobuhiro
Mukai Kosuke


Kondo Ryuto
Mukai Kosuke


Tadokoro Hajame




Yamamoto Hiroshi (Daisuke)
Kotera Tomoko (Hisako)
Hosoe Yuko (Madako)
Yamamoto Takeshi (Ozaki)


Vancouver 2002; Rotterdam 2003


Ruefully charming and sharply humorous, this deadpan tale of a pair of charismatic losers has more than a touch of Jarmusch or Kaurismäki about it. Accustomed to “dreaming and not thinking” Daisuke returns to his “bumfuck nowhere” hometown with gawky girlfriend Hisako in tow to peddle his latest entrepreneurial scheme, a putrid health drink dubbed Akajiru (“But the nutritional value is high!” becomes their plaintive catchcall). The oblivious couple come up against a stonewall of uncooperative family and friends who don’t share their dream of making Akajiru a success. His parents attempt to hogtie Daisuke into a steady job at his uncle’s vegetable cannery meets with an angry reaction. Old schoolfriends have moved not so much on as sideways. Old pal Ozaki, now a short-tempered supermarket manager given to Tourette-like outbursts, refuses to stock Akajiru much to Daisuke’s disgust. First taking his frustrations out on an innocent crate of cabbages, Daisuke ditches Hisako and meets up with his school sweetheart Madoka, who now goes by the name Veronika offering ‘fashion health’ massages at the “Traci Lords Massage Parlour”. Can there be any salvation for this dishevelled loser and his put upon partner? No one may be buying what Daisuke’s selling, but Yamashita’s story of half-hearted youthful endeavour in the face of Japan’s economic bust makes a worthwhile investment. — Michael McDonnell 

"Economic downturns, rising joblessness, idiotic fads, bad haircuts, and aimless kids with no future: it’s the early 1990s all over again, both right now and in Nobuhiro Yamashita’s new film… No One’s Ark refines Yamashita’s specific grasp of the (rather slow) pace of contemporary youth, where just getting out of bed seems like a pointless triumph of the will. Admittedly, Daisuke and Hisako aren’t up to much, but Yamashita makes sure they accomplish it so badly, and with such an appealing lack of skill or planning, that their struggles expand to heartbreaking proportions. Comical throughout, unbearably sad by the end and with a memorable, untraditionally beautiful cast, No One’s Ark positions Yamashita as one of his generation’s sharpest, most distinctive voices." — Jason Sanders, San Francisco Asian American Film Festival 2003 

"Yamashita’s got a real flair for cruel stories of evaporating youth and Aki Kaurismäki-like sense of life’s poignantly nauseating rhythms, but it's his talent for visualizing the viscous residues of Japan’s burst economic bubble that really sticks to the screen." — Chuck Stephens, San Francisco Bay Guardian