This performance-driven documentary tracks the lengths to which organisers and gamers went in February 2020 to place collectively a present that includes largely feminine taiko drummers from each Asia and the US. (Taiko are Japanese barrel-shaped drums that are available a variety of sizes, from roughly bucket-sized to airplane-engine sized.) Taiko additionally refers to an entire type of efficiency that has grown up round ensembles taking part in collectively in overlapping or contrapuntal rhythm patterns, typically supplemented with singers, dancers and different conventional Japanese devices. Skilled taiko performers are historically males – who carry out in comparatively little clothes as a result of it’s fierce, sweaty work however maybe additionally in order that viewers can admire the gamers’ muscular physiques. Like many conventional Japanese efficiency types, ladies had been excluded from it till not too long ago and, impressed by touring corporations of taiko drummers, it has taken off within the US, not simply amongst Japanese expats however amongst wider Asian-American communities.
Enter Jennifer Weir, the CEO of TaikoArts Midwest, who is among the movie’s producers and a lady of Korean lineage who was adopted by People. Weir and her spouse Megan Chao-Smith, who can be a drummer, conceive a plan to placed on a showcase that includes a number of the greatest feminine taiko gamers they’ll rustle up, together with luminaries corresponding to Chieko Kojima and Kaoly Asano from Japan in addition to Sacramento-born Tiffany Tamaribuchi. The movie principally tracks them by means of the ups and downs of bringing the corporate collectively, rehearsing regardless of language difficulties, discovering a venue that may accommodate their numbers and placing on a present that acquires the identify HERbeat.
As soon as the music lastly kicks in, which within the final act is proven in satisfyingly hefty chunks, the magic begins. All the opposite let’s-put-on-a-show shenanigans that lead up that – which incorporates infinite pictures of individuals trying careworn and having intense conversations over, say, ought to they’ve just a few males within the present or hold it ladies solely – is frankly a bit boring. Administrators Daybreak Mikkelson and Keri Pickett will not be essentially into asking probing questions, which implies a few of it feels a little bit hagiographic. It will have been attention-grabbing to be taught a bit extra about taiko from a musician’s perspective: how do they rating the items, how does choreography match into it and so forth. Presumably, it will have been tougher to promote a documentary that simply confirmed the HERbeat efficiency in its entirety, however personally that’s what I might have relatively watched as an alternative.