SciFi Japan

    THE KIRISHIMA THING Production Notes

    No One is Left Untouched by Kirishima Source: NTV (Nippon Television Network), Showgate Official Movie Site: (Japan)

    SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details and images from a Japanese movie not yet released in the United States.

    Last August, SciFi Japan profiled the new Japanese release, THE KIRISHIMA THING (???????????, Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo). NTV is now offering THE KIRISHIMA THING for international sales and has provided SFJ with images and English production notes for the film. Additional photos were supplied by Showgate, the movie`s theatrical distributor in Japan... Story and Commentary The film adaptation of the best-selling novel by the winner of the 22nd Shosetsu Subaru New Writer’s Award. Ryunosuke Kamiki x Daihachi Yoshida x Ryo Asai: A Coming-of-Age Classic for a New Generation! 103 minutes without Kirishima -- and everything falls apart. How will you feel after watching this story unfold?

    The film club struggles with their next project. The brass band and badminton club devote themselves to practice. The “go-home-early” girls talk about the latest gossip and make-up while the boys kill time playing basketball in the courtyard. The volleyball team sweats it out in the gym. It’s after school on another typical “Friday.” But it’s not. News that the school’s “star” Kirishima has quit the volleyball team sends shock waves throughout the campus. “Kirishima’s quitting!” Even his girlfriend can’t reach him to find out why. The unexpected announcement affects everyone -- from the volleyball team to the “elite” clique to which Kirishima belongs, and even down to the “lower” beings in the school hierarchy that have nothing to do with him. The dynamics between classmates and various clubs begin to shift... The story progresses with one scene replayed over and over, in different time frames and from different viewpoints -- all the while, the main character Kirishima is nowhere in sight. His “absence” is the cause of everyone’s distress. “Who is Kirishima?” “What is he like?” Soon, the audience is sucked in, too. Throughout the 103 minutes, the cast as well as the viewers are intrigued and manipulated by the phantom “Kirishima.” A disturbing, provocative and ingenious coming-of-age movie! Good or Bad, It will Provoke “Memories”: Director Yoshida + His Brilliant Staff The film was adapted from the debut novel Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo (Did You Hear Kirishima Quit?) by Ryu Asai, who won the the 22nd Shosetsu Subaru New Writer’s Award while he was still a student at Waseda University. Asai gave us a refreshing portrayal of high school life through “after school clubs” -- athletic clubs, culture clubs, the “Go-home-early” club -- using “real” teen vernacular. The selection committee praised the novel as “a universal work that transcends the generation gap.” (author, Miyuki Miyabe) and called Asai “a major new writer of the Heisei era.” His other works include Cheer Boys!!, for which he researched an actual boys’ cheering squad (and later became a comic published by Shueisha Inc.), and Shojo wa Sotsugyou Shinai, featuring 7 heroines. His last novel as a college student is being published by Shueisha and a spin-off of Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo has also been announced.

    Takahiro Sato, who produced blockbuster comics to film adaptations such as DEATH NOTE (?????, Desu Noto, 2006), FROM ME TO YOU (????, Kimi ni Todoke, 2010) and GANTZ (??, 2011) was completely enamored by Asai’s bestselling novel, considered the “bible” of coming-of-age novels. The film adaptation is directed by Daihachi Yoshida, who is a TV commercial director and a winner of numerous awards including the 32nd Hochi Film Award and the 50th Blue Ribbon Award. His work was also one of “Ten Best Japanese Movies” selected by the film magazine, Kinema Junpo. Director Yoshida’s debut film FUNUKE: SHOW SOME LOVE, YOU LOSERS! (??????????????? Funuke Domo, Kanashimi no Ai wo Misero, 2007) was screened at the 60th Cannes International Film Festival. This is Yoshida’s 4th film following FUNUKE: SHOW SOME LOVE, YOU LOSERS!, THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF CAPTAIN KUHIO (?????, Kuhio Taisa, 2009) and PERMANENT NOBARA (?????????, 2010). Yoshida’s objective, frank and cynical portrayal of the dark side of human nature is balanced by his unique brand of humor and unabashed love for his predominantly female characters. This is his first story about teens, and features Maeda of the film club and Kasumi of the badminton club as the hero and heroine, but every character is infused with authenticity. The various clubs, the school hierarchy and the elusive “Kirishima” are all vividly interpreted and captured by Yoshida. Kohei Kiyasu of Nylon 100? successfully incorporates the complex structure of the story and unique language of teens in the screenplay. The film comes to life in the hands of up and coming cinematographer Ryuto Kondo, who was recognized as Best Cinematographer at the 2010 Mainichi Film Awards and Best New Cinematographer by the Japanese Society of Cinematographers. Turbulent teen emotions are deftly portrayed within the confines of a school setting. By capturing the details, including their breathing, random noise, etc., Kondo conveys a sense of realism. He chose an actual high school campus in Kochi Prefecture as his “living” set. The theme song is performed by Yu Takahashi. Since his major debut with “Subarashiki Nichijo” (Wonderful Days) produced by creative director Michihiko Yanai, Takahashi has continued to sing about social issues, friendship, and love. The singer songwriter wrote the theme song especially for the film, portraying the emotional struggles of teens as they grapple with uncertainty and search for hope. Raw Talents Carry the Future of Japanese Film: A Brilliant, Stimulating Cast

    Ryunosuke Kamiki, an actual high school senior, plays the main character and film club member, Ryoya Maeda. Maeda is normally quiet and practically invisible, but his passion for filmmaking shines through when wielding an 8 mm camera. His range of emotions is portrayed with subtle sensitivity. Kamiki began his career as a child actor, but has developed solid acting skills. He won the Yahoo! Most Popular Japanese Actor Award at the Korean “Seoul Drama Awards” for his appearance in the NHK drama THREADS OF OUR HEARTS. In addition, he was nominated for Best Actor in a Television Movie at the 51st Monte Carlo TV Festival, evidencing his growing popularity worldwide. He was also a voice actor for the popular Ghibli films SPIRITED AWAY (????????, Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, 2001) and ARRIETTY (????????????, Karigurashi no Arrietty, 2010) His “incompetent, yet lovable” character portrayals have endeared him to many creators in the Japan film world. Ai Hashimoto plays Kasumi Higashihara, member of the badminton club. Popularized for her striking performance in CONFESSIONS (??, Kokuhaku, 2010), she is also an exclusive model for Seventeen magazine and has a tremendous teen fan base. She will be featured in five films this year including a starring role in the movie “Another” and is considered the “new star” of Japanese film. She portrays Kasumi Higashihara with an aura of serenity and mystique. Her prominence in the film’s key sequences is sure to capture the attention of the film world. Suzuka Ohgo plays Aya Sawajima, leader of the school’s brass band. Ohgo is another child actor that has developed into a promising young actress. She co-starred with Kamiki in “Into the Farway Sky.” In “Kirishima” she displays the same inner strength that we saw in her Hollywood debut “Memoirs of a Geish” as well as the popular Japanese film KAMUI GAIDEN (??????, 2009). Other works include THINGS WHEN I WAS A GIRL (????????, Onnanoko Monogatari, 2009) in which Ohgo showed us her feminine charm. In this film, Ohgo portrays a young girl’s unrequited love. The most oversubscribed audition and the most challenging search for the director was the role of Hiroki, who will be played by Masahiro Higashide. Although this will be his first film, Higashide was selected for his undeniable presence and star quality. This talented cast was hand-picked by the director in a workshop format audition from an applicant pool of over 600 hopefuls. His selections include Kurumi Shimizu for the role of Mika, Mizuki Yamamoto for the role of Risa, Mayu Matsuoka for the role of Sana and Taiga for the role of Fusuke. Various factors were considered: the actors’ athleticism for the sports club roles and their natural affinity to each character. In the end, the pieces came together like a jigsaw puzzle. Intense rehearsals ran for one month before filming started. Replaying Friday: A Grand Finale for the Film

    The author used an omnibus format with different characters’ names as titles for each chapter. In a dramatic departure from the original work, director Yoshida used days of the week as titles for each segment of the film and replayed a single episode from multiple points of view in a highly stylized format. The film starts off with repeated episodes of “Friday.” By replaying the same scene from different viewpoints and layering time frames in a “pre-meditated crime” approach, the director artfully portrays the characters’ emotions and events surrounding after school activities, love and friendship in different colors and shadows. Seemingly insignificant utterances or expressions take on great meaning with tension palpable just beneath the peaceful façade of the school. A single “event” creates huge repercussions in the lives of the students. The realism and intimacy of the movie pull the viewers into their world, as if catching voyeuristic glimpses of their lives. Glimpses of anxiety about their future. Glimpses of the passion burning inside the “quiet” ones. Glimpses of the subtle hierarchy separating the “upper” from the “lower” echelons of the school. The entire cast begins to synch as relationships mix and the balance shifts, culminating in the emotional climax. This grand finale created just for the film is exciting to watch. In particular, the zombie uprising is like a 2012 version of the dance scene in director Shinji Somai’s masterpiece TYPHOON CLUB (?????, Taifuu Kurabu, 1985). At any moment, an unexpected event can change your stream of consciousness and give you reason to hope. By portraying the compartmentalization, challenges and inequities that prevailed in the hierarchy of the various groups within “their school” the teen actors experienced a new type of coming-of-age film. Adult viewers will be caused to recall their own bittersweet high school experiences, when everything was bright and full of hope, and may identify with someone in the film. While the writer, director and actors have created a new breed of Japanese film, director Daihachi Yoshida has created a masterpiece. Cast of Characters

    Ryoya Maeda, Film Club Sophomore in the film club, whose film passes the first screening of the Film Competition -- a “first” for the club. But in school, he is quiet, almost invisible, and far from athletic. He was on speaking terms with Kasumi in middle school, but now he can’t even look her in the eye. He runs into her by coincidence at the movie theater on Sunday… Maeda is played by Ryunosuke Kamiki. Born on May 19, 1993, Kamiki`s filmography includes GOOD NEWS (1999/TBS), THE GREAT YOKAI WAR (2005, directed by Takashi Miike), BIG MAN JAPAN (2007, directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto), MR. RED NOSE (2009/NTV), 20TH CENTURY BOYS 3: REDEMPTION (2009, directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi), SUMMER WARS (2009, directed by Mamoru Hosoda), ARRIETTY (2010, directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi), SPEC (2010/TBS), THREADS OF OUR HEARTS (2010/NHK), HIGH SCHOOL RESTAURANT (2011/NTV), ODD FAMILY 11 (2012/ANB), BLACK BOARD ~ jitai to tatakau kyoushi tachi ~ (2012/TBS) and SPEC ~heaven~ (2012, directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi).

    Kasumi Higashihara, Badminton Club Sophomore in the badminton club. The calm one in the popular group of girls. She used to be friends with Maeda, but hardly talks to him now. She is keeping a secret, even from her best friend, Mika. Higashihara is played by Ai Hashimoto. Born on January 12, 1996, her credits include GIVE AND GO (1996), CONFESSIONS (2010, directed by Tetsuya Nakashima), CONTROL TOWER (2011, directed by Takahiro Miki), AVATAR (2011, directed by Atsushi Wada), A HONEYMOON IN HELL: MR. & MRS. OKI`S FABULOUS TRIP (2011, directed by Ryuichi Honda), SADAKO 3D, BLOOD-C: THE LAST DARK and ANOTHER (2012). Aya Sawajima, Brass Band Sophomore in the brass band who always practices on the roof after school. She finds herself constantly watching Hiroki playing basketball in the courtyard. She is on the quiet side at school, but plays boldly during band practice. Sawajima is played by Suzuka Ohgo. Born on August 5, 1993, she made her debut with the stage performance “Kuni Tori Monogatari” in 2000. Her filmography includes BE NICE TO PEOPLE (2002, CX), GOKUSEN (2002, CX), DR. COTO`S CLINIC (2003, CX), HUNTER AND HUNTED (2004, directed by Izuru Narushima), YEAR ONE IN THE NORTH (2005, directed by Isao Yukisada), MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA (2005, directed by Rob Marshall -- awarded the New Actress Award in Japan Movie Critics Award), INTO TH FARAWAY SKY (2007, directed by Isao Yukisada), THINGS WHEN I WAS A GIRL (2009, directed by Toshiyuki Morioka), KAMUI GAIDEN (2009, directed by Yoichi Sai) and OPPAI VOLLEYBALL (2009, directed by Eiichiro Hasumi). Hiroki Kikuchi, “Go-home-early” Club Sophomore in the “upper” echelon of the school and Kirishima’s best friend. He is on the baseball team but hasn’t gone to practice in a long time. Has a girlfriend named Sana and hangs out with the popular crowd. He has doubts about his future and lack of meaning in his life, although he acts as if he doesn’t care. He is shocked and frustrated by Kirishima’s sudden resignation from club activities. Kikuchi is played by Masahiro Higashide. Born on February 1, 1988, Higashide won the grand prix in 20th edition MEN’s NOH-NO exclusive model audition. As a model, he also attends Paris Collection Show. This is his first starring film work. Mika Miyabe, Badminton Club Sophomore in the badminton club. Is a member of one of the popular groups, but has an inferiority complex towards the free-spirited Risa and Sana, as well as Kasumi, who excels in badminton. She has feelings for Fusuke, who is on the volleyball team. Miyabe is played by Kurumi Shimizu. Born on July 16, 1994, she won the grand prix in Amuse Agency 30th edition audition. Shimizu`s filmography includes KANASHI BOYFRIEND (2009), KILLER VIRGIN ROAD (2009, directed by Goro Kishitani) and MY DEPARTURE (2012, directed by Tetsu Maeda). Risa, “Go-home-early” Club Sophomore in the “Go-home-early” club and the most popular girl at school. She is mature for her age and is reputed to have been dating a college student while in middle school. She is currently Kirishima’s girlfriend, and is shocked when he quits without telling her. Risa is played by Mizuki Yamamoto. Born on July 18, 1991, she won the grand prix in 1st Tokyo Super Model Contest. Exclusive model for CanCam magazine. THE KIRISHIMA THING is her first starring film work. Sana, “Go-home-early” Club Sophomore in the “Go-home-early” club. She enjoys the status of being Hiroki’s girlfriend and hanging out with the popular Risa. She finds Mika’s attitude annoying. Sana is played by Mayu Matsuoka. Born on February 16, 1995, her filmography includes LOVE EXPOSURE (2009, directed by Sion Sono), CHIPS (2012, directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura) and SUZUKI SENSEI (2012, directed by Hayato Kawai). Fusuke, Volleyball Club Sophomore in the school’s volleyball club. Libero. He takes Kirishima’s place in the starting line-up, but is obviously not as talented and drives himself into a corner. Fusuke is played by Taiga. Born on February 7, 1993, Taiga`s filmography includes THE BATTERY – FUTURE IN OUR HANDS – (2007, directed by Yojiro Takita), PANDEMIC (2009, directed by Takahisa Zeze), A LONE SCALPEL (2010, directed by Izuru Narushima), LIFE BACK THEN (2011, directed by Takahisa Zez), WHEN I KILL MYSELF (2011, Ryo Nakajima) and PRINCESS GO (2011, NHK). Ryuta, “Go-home-early” Club Sophomore in the “Go-home-early” club and one of the central figures in the boys’ group. He always plays basketball with Hiroki while waiting for Kirishima to finish his club activities. He is beginning to think about his future, but continues to party. Ryuta is played by Motoki Ochiai. Born on July 11, 1993, his filmography includes GOKUSEN THE MOVIE (2009, directed by Toya Sato), THE HERO SHOW (2010, directed by Kazuyuki Izutsu), GANTZ (2011, directed by Shinsuke Sato), HARD ROMANTICKER (2011, directed by Su-yon Goo) and RUROUNI KENSHIN (2012, directed by Keishi Otomo). Tomohiro, “Go-home-early” Club Sophomore in the “Go-home-early” club and one of the central figures in the boys’ group. He always plays basketball with Hiroki while waiting for Kirishima to finish his club activities. He is beginning to think about his future, but continues to party. Tomohiro is played by Kodai Asaka. Born on August 24, 1992, Asaka debuted in the TV drama HANA-KIMI 2011 (CX). THE KIRISHIMA THING is his first starring film work. Takefumi, Film Club Sophomore in the film club. A genuine “otaku” (film fanatic) who encourages Maeda whenever he becomes overly self-conscious. Takefumi is played by Tomoya Maeno. Born on January 14, 1986, he debuted in the film BARE-ASSED JAPAN (2007). His first directorial effort, PAPI OLD MAN, was released 2012. Kubo, Volleyball Club Sophomore, and vice captain of volleyball club. Kubo is played by Nobuyuki Suzuki. Born on October 14, 1992, he`s a member of EXILE theatrical company. This is first starring film work. Shiori, Brass Band Freshman in the brass band who idolizes the sophomore Sawajima. Shiori is played by Takemi Fujii. Born on December 5, 1994, Fujii`s filmography includes HIGH SCHOOL RESTAURANT (2011/NTV) and ANOTHER (2012). Credits Japanese Theatrical Release: August 11th, 2012 Running Time: 103 minutes Screen Size: 2.35:1 Ryoya Maeda: Ryunosuke Kamiki Kasumi Higashihara: Ai Hashimoto Hiroki Kikuchi: Masahiro Higashide Mika Miyabe: Kurumi Shimizu Risa: Mizuki Yamamoto Sana: Mayu Matsuoka Ryuta: Motoki Ochiai Tomohiro: Kodai Asaka Takefumi: Tomoya Maeno Captain: Shuhei Takahashi Kubo: Nobuyuki Suzuki Hino: Isao Enomoto Shiori: Takemi Fujii Katayama: Hideto Iwai Boy on Rooftop: Tomofumi Okumura Fuusuke: Taiga Aya Sawashima: Suzuka Ohgo Directed by Daihachi Yoshida Original Story Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo by Ryo Asai (SHUEISHA Inc.) Screenplay by Kohei Kiyasu, Daihachi Yoshida Theme Song “Hi ha mata noboru” by Yu Takahashi (Warner Music Japan unBORDE) Production Commander: Hiroshi Miyazaki Production: Naoki Suganuma, Masahiko Ibaraki, Ken Hironaka, Fumihiro Hirai, Hiroyasu Asami, Tatsuro Hatanaka, Shinya Wazaki Executive Producer: Seiji Okuda Co. Executive Producer: Takashi Kamikura Producer: Takahiro Sato Producers: Kazuhisa Kitajima, Yoko Edami Music: Tatsuo Kondo Music Producers: Yoshiaki Hinoshita, Satoshi Hirakawa Cinematography: Ryuto Kondo Lighting: Isamu Fujii Sound Recording: Masato Yano Production Design: Chieko Kashiyama Decoration: Yoshio Yamada Editor: Mototaka Kusakabe Line Producer: Naoyuki Nakano VFX Supervisor: Ryo Nishimura Scripter: Ryoko Taguchi Stylist: Yoshiki Endo Hair & Make-up: Shinjiro Ohno Casting: Keiichi Anda Publicity producer: Takatoshi Watanabe Assistant Producer: Masahiko Takahashi Assistant Director: Seitaro Kai Production Manager: Shuichi Yoshizaki Planning Assistance: Kanae Takanashi, Natsu Shinoda / SHUEISHA Special Assistance: Kochi Prefecture, Kochi City, Kochi Film Commission Location Assistance: Kochi Chuo High School Planning & Production: NTV Production Company: AX-ON Inc. Production: "Kirishima" Film Club (NTV, SHUEISHA, YTV, VAP, D.N.dreampartners, AMUSE, WOWOW) Theatrical Distribution: Showgate International Sales: NTV © 2012 "Kirishima" Film Club © Ryo Asai / SHUEISHA

    For more information on THE KIRISHIMA THING please see the previous coverage here on SciFi Japan:

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