Hachi, A Dog’s Story: A Belated Review

The American version of Hachi, a dog’s story was originally released in 2009 starring Richard Gere as college professor Parker Wilson who finds an Akita puppy at a train station and builds an instant connection with him. The story is based on the rea life story of Japanese professor Hidesaburo Ueno and his dog Hachiko, whose loyalty  lasted well after his master’s demise as he waited for Ueno’s return to the train station every day until the day Hachiko himself died. Today, a bronze statue of Hachiko sits in the same spot he occupied for nine years at the Shibuya station where he spent his days waiting for his master.

THE REAL HACHIKO. A photo of the real Hachiko, Japan's most loyal dog and the bronze statue built in his honor in 1934 at the Shibuya station when he passed away. I will visit this for sure when I go to Japan.

It took me a while to finally muster up enough courage to see the movie basically because of its dramatic premise. I’m a big fan of stories that feature animals and even cried at movies such as Good Boy and Firehouse Dog (I’m a wus in this aspect I admit) so I didn’t want to fall for Hachi’s charms and break my heart at the end of the movie.

The American version of the tale was pretty much a direct adaptation of the original material. The filmmakers kept it really simple, chronicling the lives of Parker and his puppy,  how their bond developed and the love they shared even as their lives evolved and Parker’s family grew. The film used shifting perspective from the point of view of humans to Hachi’s own black and white perspective. Actually, Richard Gere’s appearance in the movie only accounted for 1/3 of the movie because when his character succumbed to a heart attack, it all became about how Hachi dealt with the loss and how the community embraced this loyal dog who remained faithful to his master whose return he awaited until they were reunited in the afterlife.

Parker tries to talk Hachi into leaving the station so he could go to work

I loved the movie not because of any technical greatness it illustrated but simply because the characters drew audiences in, making them a part of Hachi’s family and not mere spectators. It gives humans a glimpse into what it must be like for their pets who wait all day for them to return and what joy it brings them to spend time with their masters and how hard it must be for them to be kept in a corner when all they want to do is shower their humans with affection, which must be true as it runs parallel to how pets respond to their masters and of course, to food. I loved the scene where Parker was talking to Hachi and there was nothing on his mind except the meat he was barbecuing. That was really funny. The relationship between master and dog as portrayed in the movie was truly inspiring as Parker treated Hachi like his family, massaging him, sharing baths with him when they got skunked, and generally just spending time with him — it was no wonder Hachi loved him unconditionally because he loved hs dog in the same way.

One can’t help but fall for Hachi and the filmmakers did a great job in humanizing the journey of this extraordinary animal. Now that I’ve finally seen the movie, I believe that my heartbreak was well worth it. This touching film surely deserves a spot in my DVD collection. I’m keeping this short because I don’t want to do a lengthy review that will make me tear up again. Later, folks!