Director Sion Sono had already completed the script for Himizu (2012) when the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami struck the pacific coast of Japan. Following the disaster he rewrote the script to include the aftermath of this tragedy as a backdrop that showed the ravaged urban wasteland. This tragic catastrophe adds an extra dimension to what would have already been a powerful story involving the unhappy life and uncertain future of a 15-year-old teenager.
The teenager in question is Yuichi Sumuda who it would be fair to describe as a rather sad and depressed young man. His mother has abandoned him to go off with her latest lover; his father is an alcoholic who only see’s him when he’s short of money and wishes his son was dead so he could collect the insurance. Sumuda has to try to juggle his school life with running the family rental boat hire business. Classmate Keiko Chazawa home life is also traumatic with her mother and father building a gallows in their house and feel that their lives would be better off if their daughter hung herself! Keiko has a severe crush on Sumuda and is happy to assist him in the running of his business but is rejected by Sumuda who physically assaults her. Further complications occur when the Yakusa come looking for the 6 million yen that’s owed by Sumuda’s father and when they can’t locate him, hold the forlorn teenager responsible for the dept.
The movie is based on Minoru Furuya’s manga Himizu, which is the Japanese word for a particular breed of moles found in that country. The film boasts two great central performances from Shota Sometani as Sumuda and Fumi Nikaidou as Keiko as the troubled teenagers. Its a sensitive study of lives affected by this colossal disaster and a subtle attack on Japans older generation all to accompaniment of Samuel Barbers Adagio, coupled with a beautifully affecting ending, makes this a great addition to Sono Sion’s body of work.