Friday, 12 December 2008

Rusutsu: Come for the winter sports, stay for the child-stealing ghost-ladies!

In winter in Hokkaido, there is lots of snow - this much I have made abundantly clear. And on the island with "the best powder snow in the world" (quote from... just about everybody), winter sports are a big deal. There are countless ski resorts in Hokkaido, so how, pray tell is one even supposed to tell them apart?

I saw posters for Rusutsu resort plastered all over the subway at the start of December, and I'm sure there'll be posters up for other destinations too, but as I was climbing out of a subway entrance I noticed that there were free DVDs stapled to one of the posters. I snagged the last one, and was delighted to find that rather than a boring tourism video, it's a weird collection of three slightly arty short films made to publicise the resort. The shorts are all set at the resort, and I think they might be having some kind of Short Film Festival out there this year, so I guess this is a nice tie in.

There are films from three different countries: Taiwan, Australia and Japan. I don't know how they chose those three countries to contribute, but it possibly ties into the fact that they are the three biggest tourist targets for Rusutsu. I mean, that might, maybe have some slight bearing on it. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it.

The Taiwanese film is the best. I mean, that's not saying much, but it's saying something. A cute Taiwanese girl eats a snickers bar:

...goes home, and reminisces about her recent holiday to Rusutsu. She went there on her own, apparently with no intention of skiing, but after a bunny-based meet-cute with a big-chinned Japanese hunk, she heads to the slopes. They have fun, she goes back to Taiwan and looks longingly at the snow-globe he gave her. It ain't gonna win the Palm D'Or, but it was nicely made and the girl was cute.

Don't worry, I can say that, my girlfriend thought she was cute too.

The Australian one was where the DVD lost its way. An Australian man returns to Rusutsu, where it seems his son went missing - presumed frozen to death or eaten by huskies or something - the previous month. It turns out that the kid was stolen by a snow-ghost-woman-thing, for reasons unknown, and that he wasn't returned because the father's hope was so tiny and futile. Look, here she's asking him:

If he had had a strong powerful hope, his son would've come back to him! So when he finally allows himself to hope that his son might be alive (when he's right in front of him), the son comes back to life and they play in the snow. There's a nice story in there somewhere I think... but this involves shoddy ghost effects and crap singing. It's shit.

Finally the Japanese short was a kind of comedy drama, where a new recruit to the Rusutsu ski patrol longs for adventure and excitement, and despairs of her goofy colleague. Of course when excitement comes calling she gets conked on the head by a ski and her goofy colleague turns out to be a stand up guy.

Oh, you'll eat those words missy.

Who knows, now that I'm learning snowboarding I might head out to Rusutsu this winter, and frankly this collection of weird films is a better ad for me than some kinda skiing/snowboarding montage could ever be.

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