Having watched a large number of Japanese movies, I am in awe of the beautiful, heart-breaking, brutal and disturbing dramas and romantic tragedies which put Western cinema to shame. However, this spectacular art has created the unfortunate stereotype that the Japanese 'Have No Sense of Humour.' And no matter how much I try to explain that this simply isn't true, pointing to other light Japanese movies such as "Swing Girls" and "Lovely Complex," when I bought this DVD, even my own girlfriend kept insisting that it was a Korean film, repeating over and over again that "The Japanese Aren't Known For Their Comedies."
Now that we've both watched this DVD however, she has finally accepted the truth. Because unlike too many Korean films in which the so-called 'Comedy' is far too sadistic, the drama and romance are tacked on and unable to mesh with the rest of the film, this wonderful little movie flows like water from a fountain and everything blends together perfectly.
An ordinary housewife leading an ordinary life is recruited as a spy for a foreign power, precisely because she is so unremarkable. As a matter of fact, she is specifically ordered to be 'Inconspicuous' and to 'Keep a Low Profile.' So all of a sudden, her mundane existence becomes exciting in her own mind.
In short, it's not a question of how other people treat her, it is simply a matter of perspective.
The opening sequence of this film, showing the title credits and cartoons of her daily life as a 'Flip-Paper' animation practically deserves an award in itself. And after that, the mere sight of a turtle wearing a parachute is proof that Japanese comedy can rival that of any other nation in the world. But as I've already suggested, there are also several dark, romantic and heart-warming moments in this movie which should never be dismissed by anyone.
While one reviewer has stated that this film becomes 'Boring,' I would suggest that the story simply develops into something more. And merely because we might label it as a 'Comedy,' it does not mean that the creators' should be bound by our own limited definitions.
For example, having seen her secret life as a spy as little more than an exciting new 'Game,' in one scene, the reality of her situation finally hits the housewife when she sees a fellow spy reaching under the table for a vicious looking dagger.
The plumber has asked him what he does for a living, and although he was only making conversation, that one moment makes obvious that he would kill anyone who 'Knew Too Much' without a second thought. However, far from being the clichéd sociopath that Western spy films have almost done to death, he is merely a normal and average man who truly loves his wife. And when he and the housewife are both listening to her making announcements over a PA system, it is deeply touching because he is so moved by the sound of her beautiful voice.
Because he must also do his best to be 'Ordinary,' never attracting too much attention, the owner of the local Ramen restaurant has been making mediocre Ramen (a soup made with noodles) for the last fourteen years. However, in reality, he is a very talented cook. So on his final day at the restaurant, he decides to break the rules and make the best Ramen that anyone has ever tasted before.
No one will ever eat it, but that doesn't matter. He just wants to make it once before he goes.
In terms of sheer comedy however, this movie also delivers in spades. The spy's wife singing "Asuki Panda Chan" and the housewife's evil, duck-like laugh will both stay with me forever. The 'Kung Fu Plumber' and everyone screaming when they see what has blocked the toilet are also hilarious. So in the end, the only real question is why you still haven't bought this DVD :-)