ReviewWriter: Casey LeeWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Permanent Nobara", "Funuke Show Some Love, You Losers!"
On a fine Friday evening at an average Japanese high school, a rumour that the school's star student and captain of the volleyball team, only known by his last name Kirishima, has left the team with no apparent reason, spreads. As the word travels from the volleyball team to his close friends and to the rest of the school, everyone is at a loss for explanations, including Kirishima's gorgeous girlfriend, Risa (Mizuki Yamamoto), who loses contact with him all of a sudden.
Adapted from a similarly titled novel by Ryo Asai, "The Kirishima Thing" is not the mystery that director Yoshida Daihachi sets it up to be like his previous work "Permanent Nobara" at last year's festival. We are never told Kirishima's full name, let alone get a glimpse of this mysterious figure that seems to have such a profound effect on his peers. If you think that you are going to spend the remainder of the screen time finding out where Kirishima is or the reason for his disappearance, then you would be missing out on the premise of the entire film.
What the premise allows is an examination about the hidden and cutthroat politics of high school, where birds of the same feather flock together. Whether you were the idolized goddesses who equate every ugly thing as scum, the dashing and talented students that find no meaning in anything they do, a member of the sports team who firmly won't give up on making into the big leagues, a lonely girl who wishes to get noticed by her crush, or an aspiring filmmaker whose every action gets shunned because of your geekiness and bizzare affection for George Romero zombie flicks, Daihachi's depictions of these characters are painfully sharp and unapologetically blunt in its truthfulness.
Daihachi satisfies the requirements of an omnibus by perennially opening "The Kirishima Thing" with the same event on that fateful Friday evening numerous times; each time through the eyes of a different character with each overlap happening at sometimes contrasting perspectives. Though this can be testing for the most impatient viewer, but Daihachi's reasons for adhering to the structure becomes apparent as the days goes by, and the web of the interconnected relationships between the characters is weaved until it culminates on the following Monday.
The slow burning pace and diegetic silence can be suffocating at times, but this puts more focus on its ensemble cast to make the best of every screen time they have, which is probably the biggest asset in "The Kirishima Thing". As each character have different levels of depth, their performance is nuanced to let you pity, admire or empathise with these familiar characters depending on which end of the spectrum you stand.
While each faction does have their own plot arcs that you may or may not like depending on your leanings, the focus gradually narrows down to the yearnings of a single character, and it was probably a burden too heavy to be carried for Masahiro Higashide, whose debut performance is a small crack in the otherwise solid cast.
As the sun sets to mark the end of another day in "The Kirishima Thing", it is an atmospheric, dry and an emotionally cold hard look at melancholy, discrimination, hope and youthful optimism that does not come to a poignant conclusion that in hindsight, is not needed for an observation like this.Cinema Online, 18 September 2013