Guilt Trippers

There's an old chestnut that says Japanese society is based on shame while Western society is grounded in guilt. Japanese people do the right thing, the theory goes, out of fear of social censure; Westerners navigate by a moral compass guided by absolute standards. The Thirteen Steps, a thoughtful new film by director Masahiko Nagasawa, shows that Japan is not so easily pigeonholed. Based on an award-winning detective novel by Kazuaki Takano, The Thirteen Steps wrestles with the thorny issues of capital punishment, personal redemption and the value of human life. Its heroes are driven by the quandary of what to...

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