The first film in the lineup of the fifth Japanese Film Festival in Indonesia, Samurai Shifters (Hikkoshi Daimyo!), opened the Bandung run of JFF on 20 December 2019.

The film begins when the lord of Himeji fiefdom, Nanaori Matsudaira, is ordered to relocate to Oita by the shogunate. Their income will also be reduced by almost half of their income at Himeji. Shunnosuke Katagiri, a samurai librarian at Himeji castle, is forced to take care of the relocation project. No one else wants this job. If he fails, he could be ordered to commit ritual suicide (harakiri). He makes a desperate attempt to survive his seemingly hopeless predicament with no manpower, no money, and no experience.

© 2019 “Samurai Shifters” Film Partners

That was the first time I watched a historical-comedy genre. I also didn’t search for any information about the film before. Because of that, the film really made a huge impression for me as one of the most relatable films I’ve ever watched.

Shunnosuke Katagiri as a Stereotypical Librarian

The first thing that I can relate the most is that the story tells about a librarian, Shunnosuke Katagiri, who is forced to lead a relocating task. At the beginning of the film, Katagiri works as a librarian at Himeji castle. Then suddenly his childhood friend, Genemon Takamura, drags him to be a relocating officer. The other officers threaten him to do harakiri if he doesn’t take the task or if he fail the task. So whether he does it or not doesn’t make much difference in making him die either way, unless he can do it right.

As a stereotypical librarian, Katagiri’s appearance in the film could be described as a nerd (because he loves to read) and unsociable person (he is terrible at communicating because he does his work alone). He runs the Himeji library alone, which makes the library of Himeji Castle a one-man-library. As the librarian in one-man-library runs both functional and managerial tasks, it makes them have all the competencies a librarian needs. For example, with being knowledgeable, he has the competency of a reference librarian. This is shown when a samurai visits his library to borrow a book to read and he gives not only the information that the visitor asked, but also gives a recommendation for supplementary reading related to the topic.

© 2019 “Samurai Shifters” Film Partners

But this initially made me confused because when Katagiri receives the relocation task, it seems like he has no idea how to seek information about relocation, something that a librarian should be able to do. But it turns out that the information about the previous relocation project is in Oran’s house. Oran’s father is the previous relocating officer who is also known as the best relocating officer they ever had. I can see that Oran’s father has a sense of documentation. So from the information, Katagiri begins to do his work as a relocating officer. Katagiri is just another bibliophile who values information beyond anything. Because when he attempts to dump his belongings in order to have the same feeling as the other residents, he reads them all in four nights without rest and he’s using the information efficiently when he faces problems, most likely to give him ideas to innovate in the relocating progress.

Another librarian competency that I found from Katagiri is bibliographical knowledge. In a scene when he decides to dump half of the clan’s belongings, he faces an antique collector who refuses to dump any of his belonging. So, Katagiri challenges him: he must write all of his belongings into a list without looking and the things that he forgets must be dumped. Katagiri uses the function of the catalogue efficiently to make a deal and because of that, the antique collector has no excuse against him. He also has biographical and geographical knowledge. It shows when he orders the samurai whom he turns into farmers to cultivate an abandoned land into a farm, knowing that the land is good for agriculture.

© 2019 “Samurai Shifters” Film Partners

Librarians depend on the community they serve to fund and maintain the sustainability of the library to enhance their services. There’s no library without a community that uses them. Samurai are known for their pride, but Katagiri doesn’t care about that. He goes to a merchant’s house and kneels to get a loan to cover the relocation cost so he can ease the library’s financial burden even if a little bit.

Shunnosuke Katagiri as a Leader

The second thing that I can relate to in the film is how I could review three semesters of my Management course in one film. Louis A. A Allen in Management and Organization (1958) states that management has four functions: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. In the film, the leading function is demonstrated by Katagiri himself as the relocating officer through his decision-making, communication, selecting and developing people, and motivating them.

© 2019 “Samurai Shifters” Film Partners

For decision-making, in the film Katagiri has to pick the wisest decisions in order to make the relocation successful. From cutting the budget, dumping half of their belongings, making a loan, firing half of the samurai in the castle and make them farmers.

In regards to communication, for every decision he makes, Katagiri makes sure to inform his subordinates. Through communication, he is able to negotiate with the merchant to give him a loan, makes sure the samurai he fires become farmers, and negotiate with a collector to dump or sell most of his belonging.

For selecting and developing people, Katagiri was able to convince half of the samurai of the castle to become farmers. He also plans the bodyguard training himself so he won’t have to pay a third party to assist with the moving.

And for motivating, as various problems arise, many people begin to feel anxious about the relocation. Despite that, Katagiri convinces the citizens that everything will be alright. He makes sure that all their needs are fulfilled. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has five stages of motivation. The first and most basic is physiological needs, such as food and water. Katagiri makes sure he stores and produces enough food for the relocating even though he makes a difficult decision by firing the samurai in the castle to do the farmers’ job. The second is safety needs. Despite not being able to rent third-party bodyguards, Katagiri is able to ask Tamura to train the castle’s bodyguards to cut the cost of renting bodyguards. The third is love and belonging, in the story, Oran and her daughter cannot relocate with them because she is no longer a Himeji citizen. As their love reciprocates, though, Katagiri marries her. The fourth is esteem. By successfully relocating the castle, Katagiri gets a more respectable position in Himeji castle, even higher than a librarian. Last is self-actualization. At the beginning of the film, One of Katagiri’s favourite book ia a relocating-themed historical book. In the end, Katagiri gets appointed to lead several relocating tasks in the future.

© 2019 “Samurai Shifters” Film Partners

By showing how the character uses information effectively, Samurai Shifter is the prime example of “today a reader, tomorrow a leader” quote in the narrative form. It reminds me that without knowing where information can be found and how to use them, it is impossible for someone to manage such a big movement. Like, how can you operate something without a manual?

Facts and Figures

Alternative Title 引っ越し大名!
Hikkosi Daimyo!
Source material Novel by Akihiro Dobashi
Casts Gen Hoshino as Shunnosuke Katagiri
Mitsuki Takahata as Oran
Issey Takahashi as Genemon Takamura
Director Isshin Inudo
Distributor Shochiku


The Indonesian Anime Times | Review by Vina Nurziani | The author is a student of Library and Information Science.

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