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The Kirishima Thing - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo

Japan 2012


Daihachi Yoshida

Ryunosuke Kamiki
Ai Hashimoto
Suzuka Ohgo
Masahiro Higashide
Mizuki Yamamoto
Mayu Matsuoka
Motoki Ochiai
Kurumi Shimizu
Koudai Asaka
Nobuyuki Suzuki
Tomoya Maeno
Takemi Fujii

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The Kirishima Thing

Story: Popular student Kirishima doesn't attend school and also isn't in touch with his friends anymore after having quit the school's volleyball team. His classmates puzzle over what exactly happened. The girls clique around Sana (Mayu Matsuoka), whose boyfriend is the also very popular student Hiroki (Masahiro Higashide), a good friend of Kirishima, also can't make anything out of this. Moreover, Kirishima's girlfriend Risa (Mizuki Yamamoto) is very disappointed that her boyfriend doesn't even answer her calls. At the same time Sana's friend Kasumi (Ai Hashimoto) by chance meets the director of the film club Maeda (Ryunosuke Kamiki), who is treated as a misfit by his classmates. Maeda seems to be interested in a girl for the first time in his life, but he has his hands full shooting his movie about zombies, which he makes against the will of his teacher. However, during the shooting Sawashima (Suzuka Ohgo) constantly gets into his way, as she always turns up with her saxophon in the places he wants to shoot his movie at, because she wants to impress Hiroki. And even the following days there still is no sign of Kirishima...

Review: Dramas can have an odd undertone, something that sets them apart from the rest of the genre and which at the same time creates a certain kind of depth that surprises concerning the otherwise apparent banality of the story. "The Kirishima Thing" is exactly such a movie. There will be viewers, who won't be able to deal with the fact that there is no real main character until the end and that the developments are rather taking place on a subtle level. But there is no doubt that the dynamics at Japan's schools is brought to screen in an extraordinary way here. That's also where the movie's message can be found at. The many school clubs serve as some kind of pastime and seem to make actual life redundant. But that's where the students are mistaken and this the drama brings across very vividly.

The Kirishima Thing - Film Screenshot 11

The stumbling block is the disappearance of Kirishima, a very popluar student whose sudden disappearance is making strong waves among the students. Waves we ride on through the story. Yet, the story is very minimalistic. It's more that we get closer and closer to the individual characters. A day at school is often portrayed from different perspectives. There are events that overlap, but luckily there are never any boring repititions. That this kind of presenting a story won't find favor with everyone should be obvious, but the individual students are complex enough for us to be interested in them. There is more behind every one of them than meets the eye and so there are one or two surprises left in store for us later on.

The Kirishima Thing - Film Screenshot 12

Not every single one of those surprises heads into a positive direction. At times you don't even know how to actually feel about the students. But this isn't that bad, actually, since we don't have to like every one of them. It is enough to understand the students better with time and to get a glimpse of what defines them. This may come in the shape of seemingly trite unrequited love stories or a weakness for making movies. As things progress you also start to cope with the fact that there isn't a real focus on a certain individual. That's also no real surprise since the movie is based on an omnibus novel of the same title by Ryo Asai, which deals with a number of protagonists. Considering the tighter frame of a movie adaption it couldn't have been done any other way than to put more weight on certain individuals on screen.

Which brings us to the fantastic performances of the actors, who are mostly between 16 and 19 years old. Ryunosuke Kamiki ("Big Man Japan") and Ai Hashimoto ("Confessions") are standing slightly more in the foreground than the rest, but they are just two of many good actors/actresses here. It also becomes apparent how little "The Kirishima Thing" sticks to well-known narrative formulas during one sequence in which the director of the film club shoots a zombie movie (one of his favourite genres) and while doing so sees pretty bloody scenes before his mind's eye that actually could have had a place in a gore movie. Yes, to see something like this in a truely subtle drama is extremely odd, but it also gives the movie an unique personality, as does the fact that Kirishima himself never makes an appearance and we just get to know about him through others.

The Kirishima Thing - Film Screenshot 13

Waiting for Kirishima also seems to be a central theme and a metaphor for waiting that real life finally begins. But real life actually could and should have started already. The students are imprisoned by social rules and cliquens they have to comply to, so that actual life seems to lie somewhere in the far distance. Technically, director Daihachi Yoshida conveys his movie with close-up, handcamera and wide-angle shots, depending on what fits the mood best. Doing so he always stays close to the students since he depicts the events from the perspectives of different individuals. "The Kirishima Thing" is therefore a drama, which may have too much of an open ending for some, but which nonetheless makes you ponder and takes you into an interesting world.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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