In what may be his last film after a career spanning almost sixty years, Obayashi Nobuhiko, the famed cult director of Hausu (1977), hasn’t shed any of his youthful style of charming exuberance in this period drama set on the eve of World War II. Quick zooms, rapid-fire cuts and a flicker of sumptuous colours create a rollercoaster ride through a frenzied historical moment that Japan usually prefers to forget.
Teenage boy Sakakiyama Toshiko returns from Amsterdam, of all places, to the coastal town of Karatsu, in the Saga prefecture. Staying at his aunt’s, he becomes part of a social circle of neighbourhood boys and girls who all get caught up in the chaos of the times.
When asked about his stylised tone, Obayashi commented that any amount of CGI would never compare to the lived experience of war.