Hideki Takeuchi’s 2019 film “Fly Me to the Saitama,” based on Mineo Maya's gag manga, took a comedic if sympathetic view of the much-mocked title prefecture, which has a relationship to Tokyo like that of New Jersey to New York. The film became an award-winning hit in depicting a fantasy rebellion of beleaguered Saitama-ese against their snobby Tokyo betters.
Festival audiences overseas also laughed along. Takeuchi, a comedy specialist with experience outside of Japan, wove in sight gags that leaped language barriers. Also, the romantic chemistry between Fumi Nikaido, playing the foppish son of the corrupt Tokyo governor, and single-named pop star Gackt, as the dashing leader of the rebellion, added a comic frisson that needed no subtitles.