We can’t choose our parents. When his mother dies in a freak accident, 3-year-old Akira is left in the custody of his father, Yasu (Hiroshi Abe), a manual laborer working in a seaside town in western Japan.
Quick to anger and overly fond of his drink, Yasu isn’t exactly ideal dad material: When his wife gives birth, he’s in the middle of a brawl in the hospital corridor. However, having been raised an orphan himself, he’s determined to give Akira a better upbringing. And when he gets things wrong — which is often — the local community steps in to help, including close friend Soun (Ken Yasuda) and restaurant owner Taeko (Hiroko Yakushimaru).
Yasu’s ham-fisted efforts to be a good pop provide the main thrust for the decades-spanning drama of Takahisa Zeze’s “Tombi: Father and Son,” based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Kiyoshi Shigematsu. Starting in 1963, the story extends to the end of the Showa Era (1926-89), then tacks on an epilogue that brings things up to the present day.