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James Shih

Film Review: The Kirishima Thing (2012)


Film poster for The Kirishima Thing

The Kirishima Thing (桐島、部活やめるってよ) is a cute, well done coming of age Japanese film with an interesting structure: the film moves linearly but flashes back to events on the same day from different perspectives.

Directed by Daihachi Yoshida, the film takes it's title from a star student, Kirishima, that stops coming to school. By all accounts, he's perfect: captain of the volleyball team, great academics, and is dating one of the most popular girls at school. He leaves a vacuum at the school that is filled with all kinds of conjectures and rumors about what he's up to.

The film reminds me of Chan is Missing: Kirishima takes on a mythic quality as the film progresses and his absence is felt more and more much like Chan does.

One thing I enjoyed about the film was how for two of the characters, a potential love is hinted at between them but the outcome is not the typical, wish fulfillment version that most people come to expect from romantic comedies. Instead, the two characters find their way not through relying on a love interest to fill that emotional void, but through pursuing what they're passionate about.

There are certain scenes from the film that leave a question mark. Gay love interests (boy-boy and girl-girl) are implied through intimate conversations and a touch on the wrist between characters. However, I feel like thse hints are not fulfilled because they not revisited and don't develop into anything.

The poster (above) makes it seem like the film director student is the main character but in reality, he's part of a bigger web of stories. I actually feel that this film works better without a central protaganist. I'm engaged to the multiple stories and want to see how they all develop and collide with each other.

The saxophone playing girl and the territory battle erupts between her and the film director is hilarious yet heartwarming. If I have one gripe, it's that I feel like her story thread is not really tied up at the end and feels too easy.

Overall, I highly recommend this film. It's fun and interweaves the multiple storylines in a way that is not too jarring and connects them in fun, inventive ways. This calls for multiple viewings to see how the threads connect and I look forward to watching it again.

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