Godai - the Wunderkind

Godai - the Wunderkind

A biographical film about a personality in the Meji Restoration period.

Movie data

Original title: 天外者 Tengaramon (An extraordinary personality)
International Title: Godai - the Wunderkind
Published: 2020
Length: 110 minutes

Director: Mitsutoshi Tanaka
Script: Eriko Komatsu
Music: Kow Otani

Haruma Miura: Tomoatsu Godai
Shôhei Miura: Ryoma Sakamoto
Takanori Nishikawa: Yataro Iwasaki
Yûki Morinaga: Hirobumi Ito
Aoi Morikawa: Haru
Robert Anderson: Tomas Blake glover
Yûki Yagi: Kiku
Misako Renbutsu: Toyoko Godai


The film depicts scenes from the life of Tomoatsu Godai (1836-1885), a samurai of the Satsuma clan, born in Kagoshima, who made the city of Osaka an economic center of the Industrial Age.


Excerpts from a review on imdb:
"Focusing on the life of Godai is an interesting angle for this historical biopic. Aside from a few inaccuracies, the film suffers from embellishing its characters into idealistic caricatures. In the film, the events and acting are so exaggerated that it is extremely difficult to take it seriously. The technical execution is excellent, but this film leaves a bad aftertaste."
The Content
The boy Tomoatsu acquires the term "Wunderkind" or "tengaramon" in the Japanese original, which can be translated somewhat dryly as "extraordinary personality", when his father, a Confucian scholar, is supposed to make a globe for his Daimyo and despairs of this task. The boy Tomoatsu sticks the world map onto a spherical lantern and thus solves the task.
The film compresses the protagonist's life into 110 minutes. Individual episodes are told briefly and emotionally charged. Of course, a sad love story should not be missing.
However, the film also shows very well the difficult situation in which Japan found itself after the forced opening by the Americans. One of Tomoatsu Godai's merits is that he didn't want to leave his country to the colonial powers. He founded his own companies and organizations so that Japan could remain independent. In order to be able to hold its own against the foreign powers, however, he had to import capitalism: profit, profit, profit. The Satsuma clan is known for its fight against the opening of the country. This hampered Godai's activities.
The film deals with other ideas: breaking out of the rigid social system of feudal Japan, the right to realize one's own life dreams, education for women, victims of social upheaval, unity of the country through economy and a single currency.
Tomoatsu Godai died of tuberculosis at the age of 49. His performer in the film, Haruma Miura, a well-known actor and pop star in Japan and China, committed suicide in 2020 at the age of 30. The film was released after his death.