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Film / Tora's Pure Love

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Tora's Pure Love is a 1976 film directed by Yoji Yamada.

Torajirō Kuruma, aka "Tora-san" the vagabond traveling salesman, comes home to his family, all of whom, with the partial exception of his sister Sakura, regard him as a social embarrassment. In this installment Tora's shameless flirting with Masako, his young nephew Mitsuo's twenty-ish schoolteacher, leads to a violent family argument and Tora's departure from the family home. His sister upbraids him for coming on to a younger woman, pointing out that Masako is young enough to be Tora's daughter and it would be more appropriate for him to go out with someone like Masako's mother.

Enter Masako's actual mother, Aya (Machiko Kyo). Aya has just come home after spending three years in hospitals. Aya remembers Tora's family and the candy shop where they still live. She also remembers Tora from when he was younger, and the two of them hit it off. Soon an unlikely romance is blooming between the traveling salesman and the highborn lady—but what neither Tora nor Aya know is that Aya is terminally ill.

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This is the 18th of forty-eight films in the "Otoko wa Tsurai yo" or It's Tough Being a Man or "Tora-San" series, all of which starred Kiyoshi Atsumi as Tora-san; the series started in 1969 and ran in Japanese theaters until Atsumi died in 1996.note  It's also the next-to-last film appearance for Machiko Kyo, a star of Japanese cinema going back to Rashomon in 1950.


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  • Continuity Nod: Besides the regular appearance of Tora's family, this installment has a scene where Tora encounters two actors (Yoshio Yoshida and Mari Okamoto), part of a traveling theatrical troupe. They previously appeared in film #8, Tora-san's Love Call.
  • Downer Ending: Somewhat more melancholy than most of the Tora-san films, which usually had a Bittersweet Ending / Did Not Get the Girl ending. In this one Tora is left Walking the Earth again after Aya, who quite obviously loves him, dies.
  • Dream Sequence: The opening is a comical dream sequence in which Tora dreams of himself a a Humphrey Bogart-esque haunted hero in a setting that looks a lot like Casablanca.
  • Girl of the Week: Every episode of the Tora-san series had Tora falling in love with a different woman. This time it's Aya, a wealthy society lady who is terminally ill.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Tora complains about how his brother-in-law Hiroshi works in a print shop when Tora wanted Sakura to marry a college graduate. Aya guilelessly asks "Which college did you graduate from?", which forces Tora to confess that he didn't graduate from college either.
  • Jerkass: The normally good-hearted Tora can sometimes forget himself and act like this. The arrival of lovely Masako at the family home causes Tora to not just shamelessly flirt with her, but also to arrogantly monopolize the conversation at dinner, preventing Mitsuo's parents from getting a word in edgewise. This leads to an ugly argument which results in Tora leaving the house.
  • Old Retainer: Aya's elderly maid, who is seen weeping after her mistress died, wishing that it was her instead.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Masako makes fun of her mom, noting that pampered, sheltered Aya has no idea what anything costs. Aya, who regrets the way she's spent her life, is embarrassed.
  • Strictly Formula: The "Tora-san" films all had a formula. Tora would come home from his wanderings, get into a fight with his family, and fall in love with a "madonna", only to fail to get the girl, usually when the girl fell for someone else. This film tweaks the formula a bit in that it's death, not another man, that separates Tora from his latest Love Interest.
  • Tearjerker: Aya dies right after she seems to have found happiness with Tora.
  • Translated Cover Version
    • At Masako's school, the kids are singing a version of "Old Folks at Home" with Japanese lyrics.
    • And at Aya's funeral, the mourners sing "Nearer My God to Thee" with Japanese lyrics.
  • Traveling Salesman: Tora is a traveling street peddler who sells various knickknacks.
  • Trophy Wife: Aya's backstory. Dialogue reveals that she was married after the war to a sleazy profiteer making money off the American occupation. The marriage was not a happy one and after a while she got divorced.
  • Uptown Girl: Tora's family, who are a little too concerned with his love life, get upset when Tora starts spending time with rich upper-crust divorcee Aya. Aya for her part is unhappy despite her pampered life, having never known true love.
  • Victorian Novel Disease: Aya has the typical terminal illness which still leaves her looking beautiful and doesn't seem to have any symptoms at all, except in her last scene where she's looking paler than normal.
  • Voiceover Letter: Near the end a shot of a letter on a desk is accompanied by Masako's narration, as she reports that she has found work in Niigata.
  • Walking the Earth: Tora's fate at the end of all the Tora-San films. In this one he takes off again after Aya dies, once more wandering around Japan selling his goods.

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