Where tears flow like the Yangtze

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 December, 2006, 12:00am

It's not for nothing that a new Japanese tearjerker, released this week in local cinemas, is called One Litre of Tears. Everyone is given a pack of Kleenex (pictured) before they enter the cinema but, given the title, we wonder if a whole box is enough.

The film and a popular TV series shown on TVB are based on the diary of a girl who was diagnosed with something called spinocerebellar degeneration when she was 15 years old. She lived until the age of 25. Her Japanese publisher said the book has sold 18 million copies.

Tragedy aside, I love these tearjerkers, which are usually highly educational from a medical point of view, as the hero or heroine is inevitably struck by something exotic.

Spinocerebellar degeneration - I Googled it - is apparently a vague medical phrase that simply means bad changes in a person's nervous system, affecting the spine and the part of the brain called the cerebellum. Its causes are various. A patient suffers a lack of balance and co-ordination, and a disturbance of gait. They can still shed a tear, though.