Mubansou   2016   Japan A Cappella
A Cappella Image Cover
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Director:Hitoshi Yazaki
Studio:Arc Entertainment
Writer:Mariko Koike, Chie Takeda, Masam Asanishi
IMDb Rating:6.4 (94 votes)
Awards:1 win & 1 nomination
Duration:132 min
Hitoshi Yazaki  ...  (Director)
Mariko Koike, Chie Takeda, Masam Asanishi  ...  (Writer)
Riko Narumi  ...  Kyoko Noma
Nina Endô  ...  Emma Takamiya
Tomoko Fujita  ...  Aiko Chiba
Sôsuke Ikematsu  ...  Wataru Domoto
Wakana Matsumoto  ...  Setsuko Domoto
Ken Mitsuishi  ...  Koichi Noma
Takumi Saitô  ...  Yunosuke Seki
Takuto Tanaka  ...  Composer
Isao Ishii  ...  Cinematographer
Ken Memita  ...  Editor
Comments: Yeah, so ... Hitoshi Yazaki

I had very high hopes for him. Thought he might turn out to be a Ryuichi Hiroki version 2.0 , a guy with maybe a little perv running through his veins but balanced out with a lot of interest in giving us interesting female characters. Like Hiroki, Yazaki tends to work with women writers to keep himself informed, in check, or simply to provide cover.

My first Yazaki film was 2006's Strawberry Shortcakes, which remains one of my all time favorite films. Four years later was Sweet Little Lies, also kick-ass. Off to a good, if sparse, start. Then I discovered 1991's March Comes in Like a Lion, which is creepy af but quite cool/edgy for a thirty year old film.

2011's Love and Treachery had him again collaborating with the fabulous Yuko Nakamura from Strawberry Shortcakes AND Yoko Kamon, "The Bat" from Suicide Club. That film remains un-subbed and unavailable to this day :( grrrr

2014's The Place Where the Sun Sits was too complicated for my taste and sort of soured me on Yazaki, so he drifted off my radar.

I've had a copy of this movie, A Cappella, hanging around un-subbed for five years and didn't even know it was a Yazaki film. Maybe I knew it when it was released but it's been so long I forgot.

Full disclosure: I watched this with machine translated subs that were pretty bad but I could follow it mostly, and the important stuff was clear:

There will be no revolution without love

Anyway, the first thing Yazaki shows us in the film is that Rico Narumi got a boob job. Is nothing sacred?

Japan makes a lot of films centered on high school students with actors (and scripts) who are obviously older than high school students in real life and in the fucking movie. There was no need for it here. Summer Palace this film is not (but few films are). About half way through the film it's decided that juxtaposing protesting school uniforms with the occupation of Okinawa is neither interesting nor worthwhile and the whole "activist" angle is dropped.

Fine by me. The drama that unfolds in the second half is typical fiction/whatever. I continued watching solely to see what Rico Narumi would do/was capable of as an adult. Watch How to Become Myself to see how captivating she was at fifteen.

Spoiler alert: Rico remains pure. There is implied nudity and some "movie" sex but no naughty bits are shown.

I enjoyed her performance because it was full of tension. She's almost a blank slate most of the time (no channeling Philip Seymour Hoffman kinda stuff) but, wonderfully, she shows her character processing the situations she's in. I love that. I think she has dreams of Hollywood in her head. She's got bigger boobs now and she has a big head -- like Daniel Day-Lewis. Hollywood loves big heads.

Nina Endo is a darling, and I would love to know the name of the un-credited actress with long hair who plays one of Rico's activist sidekicks. She has charisma.

A Cappella isn't a film I would recommend unless you are interested in Rico.


Summary: Set in the year 1969 in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.

Kyoko Noma (Riko Narumi) is a loving female high school student who takes part in campus protests. One day, she meets university student Wataru Domoto (Sosuke Ikematsu) in the tea cafe Mubansou ("A Cappella"). Kyoko falls in love with him, but they get involved in an incident that leads to a shocking ending.

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