Long before it won three Oscars and was nominated for best picture, “Whiplash” about the mesmerizing and often inexplicable relationship between a music student and his demonically obsessive teacher— had created a big stir in Japan. Media darling and California-based film critic Tomohiro Machiyama called it “a masterpiece, and so gripping that it scared me a little,” while jazz musician Naruyoshi Kikuchi wrote it off as a “laughable and cartoonish piece of addictive junk food.”

As elsewhere in the world, Japanese critics have fallen over themselves to give “Whiplash” (which opens in local cinemas on April 17 as “Session”) the highest praise. On the flip side was the media’s censoring of professional musicians who griped about the film’s so-so portrayal of music technique and the fierce, over-the-top fanaticism demonstrated by music school teacher Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). Online, such discussions went viral and helped fan the flames that quickly grew into a towering inferno — “Whiplash” struck a nerve in Japan.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.