The film “Kampai! Sake Sisters” is the second sake-oriented film produced by journalist and filmmaker Konishi Mirai, whom now resides in LA. The three main protagonists are include: little-in-size but energetic Toji(Master brewer) Imada Miho; whom works at a famous Japanese bar GEM by MOTO Chiba Marie and Rebekah Wilson-Lye, whom was from New Zealand and fell in love with Japanese culture and sake at the first sight. In such a male-dominant industry, it is indeed difficult to stand out and be recognized.
About the production of the movie, I DO share similar opinion with Taiwanese writer Mac Chan (I will link his article in Chinese down below). The film somehow lacks “story-telling”. The timeline and change of perspective is difficult to follow. If you space out just for a while if is difficult to catch-up. It also feels like the director wants to put so much in just an one-hour-and-thirty-minute, and the story just lost focus.
That was my criticism of the film, but of course it doesn’t mean there is nothing great about the movie. The three charming protagonists were the reason I finished this whole film.
Imada Miho is a female toji (which is a big deal!) at Imada Shuzo Honten (Imada Brewery) in Hiroshima. Graduated from a famous university and after working in Tokyo for a few years. She decided to go back home to Hiroshima inheriting the family business in sake making, and became a toji.
Imada Miho (Source: eiga.com)
Her energy was influential and seeing she is dedicated to her job no matter when it was sake brewing or going to events interacting with customers.
The second protagonist Chiba Marie (千葉麻里絵) leaves a great deal of impression. I do not personally know her, but all her demeanor – the way she talks to people without looking into their eyes (relatable!) – screams introvert to me.
The first thing she does every day when she arrives the restaurant is to try every sake in the store. She tastes the sake before eating anything (i.e. the gustatory sense at its purest form) and jot extensive notes. She is an expert in the taste of her sake hence she knows which one to recommend to her customers that day. Such observant eye just screams introvert to me…! (relatable!)
Chiba Marie (Source: Instagram @marimarimo125)
The third protagonist is from New Zealand. Seeing the story of Rebekah Wilson-Lye from the eye of a foreigner, it definitely has something I did relate to. Rebekah used to live in Korea. After a chance to visit Japan and Kyoto, she had a love-at-first-sight moment with Japan.
The moment, she described, when she first saw kingaku-ji (金閣寺) was breath-taking and beautiful, “It was marvelous. … As the rain fell on the earth and there is a warmth come from the earth. … I felt this amazing moment of energy. … Right at that moment, I knew I had to live in Japan.”
There sake industry all-stars also made an appearance in the movie, like sake journalist John Gauntner and masters of numerous famous brewery. I would recommend this movie to someone who wants to, or already in the sake industry. But if you wish for entertainment and story-telling, there are chances that you might find yourself disappointed.
Mac Chan’s article about Kampai! Sake sisters (in Chinese):