BUBBLE FICTION: Boom or Bust
Baburu e go!! Taimu mashin wa doramu-shiki
When a brilliant female researcher accidentally turns an ordinary washing machine into a time machine, the Japanese government convinces her to travel back to 1990 and prevent the announcement of landmark fiscal policy that triggered the nation's economic demise. But the mission hits a snag when the researcher disappears, forcing the government to send her estranged daughter, Mayumi - a debt-ridden bar hostess and the only other person the time machine will accept - back in time to find out what happened. Mayumi arrives at the peak of Japan's "bubble" economy and finds a society obsessed with material wealth and profligate spending. With her warnings of impending doom falling on deaf ears, Mayumi's frustrated efforts to find her mother suggest some kind of conspiracy at work at the highest levels of government. Her own future and that of Japan itself begins to hinge on her ability to recruit the help of one man: the same finance bureaucrat who sent her through time. The problem is, he's 17 years younger and completely unreliable.
From the production team that captured the mindset of an entire generation of Japanese youths with a trio of hit films in the late 80s, comes a nostalgia-inducing, science fiction comedy that satirizes Japanese bureaucracy, family values and the unrestrained madness of Japan during the "bubble era."
A funeral is being held for Mariko Tanaka (Hiroko Yakushimaru), a top consumer electronics company researcher who has committed suicide. In attendance is her daughter, Mayumi Tanaka (Ryoko Suehiro), a bar hostess in her mid-20s whose live-in boyfriend has skipped town leaving her to face his creditors. Enter Isao Shimokawaji (Hiroshi Abe), a once elite bureaucrat whose career has slipped off the fast track and now finds himself working out of the basement of the Finance Ministry in the Emergency Response Bureau. Shimokawaji, shocked to find out that Mariko has a full-grown daughter, secretly tells her that her mother's death was actually staged and that she is, in fact, alive and well… albeit in the year 1990!
Having accidentally invented a time machine using a household washing machine, Mariko Tanaka had agreed to a secret government mission, headed by Shimokawaji, to save Japan from impending bankruptcy. With a national deficit of 800 trillion yen and mounting interest payments of 90 billion yen per day, Japan's economy is guaranteed to collapse within two years. Bank foreclosures, corporate bankruptcies, yawning income disparities, massive unemployment and social unrest will tear the nation apart at the seams, and nothing can be done to prevent it short of turning back the clock. The mission, therefore, is to return to March 1990 and convince the government to postpone the announcement of stringent bank lending policy that served as the signal event for sending the economy plummeting into a decade-long deflationary spiral.
Unfortunately, Mariko's cryptic communications from the past have stopped coming, and any attempts to send back other agents have only ended in a good "washing." Mayumi's physical dimensions, however, match her mother's to a tee and she is tagged as the last-ditch hope for the mission. But Mayumi, who bears resentment toward her mother for never having been there for her, refuses. Only after she is told that altering the future would erase her debts does she agree to board the washing machine. Moments later, she steps out into 1990 Tokyo where large-scale construction projects are underway everywhere, Eurobeat dance rhythms pulsate from discotheques and people are so flush with cash, jewelry and fancy cars that they're just giving it away.
Mayumi begins the search for her mother. But the only person she finds willing to listen is a young Shimokawaji, who is not the stoic, furrow-browed figure of 17 years later but rather a dashing, fast-track bureaucrat whose main preoccupation is chasing around pretty women. He treats Mayumi as little more than a potential conquest until a surprising series of revelations convince him to begin taking her seriously. Is there more to their relationship than meets the eye? Who is responsible for the disappearance of Mayumi's mother? And can Mayumi and Shimokawaji successfully alter the course of history?
Japan will either boom or bust. It's simply a matter of time.