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Bubble E Go! Time Machine Wa Drum-Shiki

Entry updated 2 November 2020. Tagged: Film.

["To the Bubble! The Time Machine Is a Washing Machine"] Film (2007 Japan; vt Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust). Aries, Hoichoi, Tōhō. Directed by Yasuo Baba. Written by Ryōichi Kimizuka. Cast includes Hiroshi Abe, Ryōko Hirosue and Hiroko Yakushimaru. 116 minutes. Colour.

With the yen on the verge of collapse (see Money), the Japanese government identifies the root of its troubles as a piece of fictional legislation in 1990 that legalized the wider use of real estate as collateral on bank loans. With Tokyo land prices artificially high during the "Bubble" economy of the 1980s, this led to a subprime mortgage crisis, with banks foreclosing on land that stood no chance of repaying the value of the sums levied upon it. Scientist's daughter Mayumi (Hirosue) is persuaded to Time Travel in a converted washing machine to the critical Jonbar Point, where she becomes a reluctant participant in her own parents' courtship, and boggles with a mixture of awe and horror at the excesses of Japan's affluent boom era, encountering a string of B-list celebrities playing their younger selves.

A light-hearted and loving pastiche of the Back to the Future movies, Bubble e Go! playfully lifted several tropes from Tokusatsu and Anime, notably a countdown clock to global cataclysm, in an unexpectedly financial sense rather than the usual Alien Invasions. The cognitive dissonance between the worlds of 1990 and 2007 focuses on fashion, the influence of cellphones (see Communications), and fluctuations in the semantics of Japanese slang (see Linguistics). The film was left seeming oddly prescient when the rest of the world followed Japan into recession a couple of years later. With parochial humour unlikely to travel abroad, and a plot that replaces the usual sf jeopardies with "mere" accountancy, Bubble e Go! remained largely unknown in the Anglophone world, although it was sold on Japanese DVD with English subtitles. [JonC]


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