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Animal movies are a thriving genre of Japanese films that foreign critics, scholars and viewers by and large cordially detest. It’s similar to the typical gaijin reaction to natto (fermented soy beans) — i.e., disgust at a humble, but beloved, made-in-Japan specialty.

The sight of a dog, cat or other furry beast on a film flyer here triggers an instant rejection reaction. It’s usually a guarantee of badness on every level, from hammy J-drama performances to twee scenes of animal antics. The exceptions, such as Yoichi Sai’s 2004 “Quill,” a relatively realistic and unsentimental look at the life of a seeing-eye dog, hardly disprove the rule.

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