As frustrating as the deliberate messiness of Tokyo Waka might occasionally be, its discursiveness does have the intriguing effect of leaving behind a myriad of impressions about its subjects rather than settling on pat interpretations. Haptas and Samuelson's vision of Tokyo is ultimately that of an urban environment that perhaps still bears the scars of a death-haunted history, a past that the ongoing proliferation of crows can't help but evoke.
While the frequent recourse to talking heads burdens the doc with a choppy cadence, directors John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson manage to offer moments of great humor—a crow stealing hairs from zoo animals to build his nest—and images of profound isolation, as in a throwaway shot of a lone man entering a massive motel-like apartment structure.
The crows are pests, but the movie shows them great affection, as do the humans who discuss the ways they must accommodate the crows. After a while it is impossible not to admire the birds’ intelligence and resilience, and see that perhaps it’s the other way around: The crows are the ones putting up with us.