The Kirishima Thing

(Japan, 2012)
New York Premiere
The July 14 screening is a Co-Presentation with JAPAN CUTS
103 minutes, DCP (July 7) and 35 mm (July 14), in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by: Daihachi Yoshida
Starring: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Ai Hashimoto, Suzuka Ohgo, Masahiro Higashide

On Friday, Kirishima quit the afterschool volleyball team at his exceedingly average Japanese high school. He was its star player. On Saturday, his friends and teammates searched for him and his phone went to voicemail. By Monday, the entire world has changed. The team is running drills in the gym, but their rhythms are off. The teen queen bees are swarming the halls, but they’re not quite flying in formation. The nerds are still nerds, but today they seem just a little too self-assured. And in the library, a young girl is crying alone. One teacher nods to another, immediately grasping the weight of this ephemeral hurricane. It must be THE KIRISHIMA THING.

Based on the bestselling novel by Ryo Asai, THE KIRISHIMA THING is a dissection of a ruptured social nervous system. Like Rashomon staged at The Breakfast Club, its cosmic cinematic microscope sweeps across all of the institutionalized cliques we’ve all found at every school anywhere in the world: The jocks and their kept girls, the band geeks who agonize over a single note out of tune, the AV nerds who just want to make zero-budget zombie movies and watch Tetsuo: The Iron Man all day. They all had their places, and they all knew their roles, but in a culture of conformity, even the slightest, quietest ripple in the pond is like a scream within their miniature universe.

Here at NYAFF, we’re often fighting against a preconception about many contemporary Japanese dramas: the belief that they’re all too deadpan, too sterile, or just plain too emo. Here, Daihachi Yoshida steers away from the usual cliches and familiar acting tics and injects his cast of refreshingly unaffected young stars with a remarkable sense of immediacy, giving the audience a portrait of ordinary kids stripped of their cultural models, set adrift in a social microcosm that’s been rocked to its core. When one piece of the smallest puzzle falls out of alignment, geeks can become leaders and sidekicks can become stars. Somewhere in Japan, starting from a quiet place deep inside themselves, the zombies are revolting on the rooftops and the paradigm is shifting beneath their feet. Kirishima is gone, and moment by moment, everything in this world is changing.

Sunday July 7, 2:45PM Walter Reade Theater Buy Tickets

Sunday July 14, 7:30PM Japan Society Buy Tickets