Kata Review & Summary: A Truly Immersive Introspection of Mahiro Takano

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In a still from Kata

Kata is a short film / documentary, directed by James Latimer. It features Mahiro Takano, the famous young Karate practitioner in Japan, who rose to fame with her viral YouTube videos and her appearance in Sia’s music video, ‘Alive’.

Kata Plot

Kata is an immersive experience into the mind and soul of Mahiro Takano as she steps in the dojo and performs Karate with her greatest enemies. 

Kata Cast

  • Mahiro Takano as Herself
  • Takako Kikuchi as Karate Coach
  • Kohei Mashiba as Monk

Kata Review

Kata is one of those movies which absorbs you from the get go. This Six Minute short film explores what the famed and disciplined young Karate practitioner, Mahiro Takano, goes through when she steps on the Dojo. The elements change, the aura becomes magical and she comes face to face with her biggest enemy. It’s as much an exploration of her personality and commitment as it is a look at what it means to practice Kata. Mahiro Takano is one of the most famous Karate experts in Japan who rose to fame in her viral YouTube clips and her appearance in the Sia music video of ‘Alive’. Kata attempts to look at where this young girl went since then and how her skills and finesse have only gone on to increase. Like every documentary by James Latimer, Kata too features a narration by the person in focus. She goes through her inspirations and her beliefs as she performs the moves, which are only complimented by the beautiful sound design of the film.

There is a sudden transition in the persona of Mahiro, as she goes from a pop loving school girl to a ruthless warrior who is not to be meddled with. There is an array of seamless transitions in the movie, where she changes her uniform, where the day turns into night, and the normalcy of the atmosphere transforms into a mystical night. My favourite scene in the movie has to be when she truly discovers her greatest enemy and the fluid change in scene exposes her to herself, signifying that there is always going to be a better version of herself who can put her down in an instant. The cinematography is transcendent and it makes you feel each and every punch and parry that is performed by Mahiro. The sound design and lighting only adds to the atmosphere, and even though this is a 6 minutes short film, it truly deserves to be watched on the large screen, in its full glory. 

Kata is an incredibly immersive experience which sucks you in and doesn’t hold back. James Latimer understands how to efficiently grip his audience in that limited time frame and he does that with such finesse. With movies like The Lady Samurai and Butoh Dance under his name, I truly feel that Kata is his most captivating work yet. It’s nice to see Mahiro after so many years and now that Karate practitioners can participate in the Olympics too, I am very optimistic about her growth as a Kata expert. Kata premiered in the Tribeca Film Festival and is available to watch online on Tribeca’s site. The other breath-taking short films of James Latimer are available on his Vimeo account.

The Movie Culture Synopsis

The biggest challenge for a short film is to grip its audience, and Kata does it so well with it’s premise, cinematography, editing, sound design and obviously, the brilliant showcase of talent by Mahiro Takano herself.