Give Pests a Chance: Revisiting Hiroaki Yoshida’s Twilight of the Cockroaches
by Rainer Chlodwig von Kook
THIS WRITER’S father took him to see the Japanese import Twilight of the Cockroaches (1987) during its 1989 American theatrical run – at the now-defunct Fine Arts Theatre in Mission, Kansas, if memory serves. Directed by Hiroaki Yoshida, whose only other credit at the helm of a film is the Jeff Fahey thriller Iron Maze (1991), Twilight of the Cockroaches is but one of unnumbered oddities spawned by the Japanese cinema during the 1980s; and one suspects that the principal reason it got picked up for stateside distribution was its combination of live action and animation, a pairing that had demonstrated its power to charm audiences with Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988).
The plot concerns a colony of pampered cockroaches who are permitted to live and thrive in the apartment of the dissipated and enigmatic Mr. Saito (Kaoru Kobayashi), who seems to spend most of his time in a stupor. The roaches’ peaceful existence is upset, however, when Saito gets a girlfriend (Setsuko Karasuma) who understandably insists on ridding his place of its swarms of invertebrate squatters. Not too many movies muster the gumption to cast six-legged vermin as sympathetic protagonists in such a situation, but Twilight of the Cockroaches does exactly that and succeeds largely by anthropomorphizing the animated pests, complete with human faces, facial hair on the men, and even cleavage on the females of the species.
What makes the film doubly strange and noteworthy is that the roaches apparently represent Jews, much of the story suggesting a “Holocaust” allegory. The English-language script, credited to a Steve Kramer, even uses the term “genocide” to describe humanity’s treatment of its innocent, toilet-tripping neighbors of order Blattodea. “With its subtle allusions to Hiroshima and Dachau,” the VHS box quotes The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Carrie Rickey, “this comedy has unexpected resonance. You will think twice before getting out that can of Blockade.” (Ms. Rickey is presumably unaware that even mainstream “historians” of the “Holocaust” no longer support the Nuremberg Tribunal lies about the Dachau facilities housing homicidal gas chambers disguised as showers.)
The cockroaches comprise a “tribe” suffered in the home of “host” Mr. Saito, who is described as being diverted or entertained by them, much as Jews in America distract the host with Hollywood. Then, too, they see themselves as having a special racial destiny, and they also worship a toy rabbit they know as “Torah”. Nothing in the English-dubbed soundtrack suggests Jewish vocal mannerisms, but some of the older and more important roaches do exhibit large and somewhat hook-shaped noses. The penchant of many of the roaches for spending their nights frolicking in the toilet could also suggest the subversive traits of Jews who specialize in pornography and the propagation of other degeneracies.
Seeing this movie as a child, this writer was wowed by the sheer weirdness of it, Europeans having been conditioned for decades to adore the foreign and the bizarre as a virtue. Revisited now, it is hardly a classic. Twilight of the Cockroaches does, however, furnish a useful illustration of how and why such infestation occurs. The “host”, Mr. Saito, the film eventually reveals, has been abandoned by his family, and only after the dissolution of this essential unit has he fallen into complacency and toleration of vermin and allowed them scavenge on his goods, the spoils of his own productivity. The destruction of the family is the crucial and most fundamental component of Jewish subversion of a nation; without that the Jewish cockroach is in peril, and it is only after another woman enters Mr. Saito’s life and inspires within him a yearning for new happiness in domesticity that he awakens to the filth and asserts his masculine sovereignty over his realm.
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