Two middle school students feeling isolated in their own ways form a friendship. Kekeru Fujita (Kento Yamazaki) is a high-school student who prefers to keep to himself. He wears earphones that are not plugged in to any device to avoid talking to others, and spends his break times alone in the school chapel. When a new student, Mizuho (Ai Hashimoto), joins his class she is immediately drawn to him, sensing a fellow lost spirit. We later discover that Mizuho’s father is running from his debts, meaning that she changes schools regularly and is therefore unable to form lasting friendships. The two develop an increasingly intimate relationship, with Mizuho calling Kakeru Sunusumukun, after a character in the Moomin cartoons who is quiet and loves music. She calls herself Mii, after an outgoing and selfish character. They decide to start a band together, with Kakeru playing guitar and Mizuho on piano.

Directed by Takahiro Miki and written by Miki with Yukiko Mochiji, the film is small in scale but excels at telling its story. Set in Hokkaido, it uses the bleak surroundings and snowy townscapes to great advantage. There are some creative touches such as the sound being cut when Kakeru has his earphones to emphasise his alienation from others. Likewise, he is framed early on without other characters in shot, further highlighting his self-determined exile from the company of his classmates. Kento Yamazaki and Ai Hashimoto have good chemistry together and capture their awkward friendship perfectly. Both starring in early film roles, their performances are natural and they play off one another brilliantly.

The film is a gentle drama about friendship and finding companionship. Mizuho’s father struggles with debt and alcoholism. These are important issues in their own right, but the film’s focus on Mizuho rather than her father shows us something that is often overlooked, that is the children’s suffering from circumstances that are outwith their control. Mizuho’s inability to form friendships and establish a life in one place, due to her father running from the police, is a painful reminder that she is at the whims of her father. The film certainly has a melancholic edge, with the symbolism of the solitary Control Tower standing for a lack of communication between individuals in a world grown increasingly isolated. As in other films, music is seen as something that can bring people together, and effect a change in outlook.

Two middle school students feeling isolated in their own ways form a friendship. Kekeru Fujita (Kento Yamazaki) is a high-school student who prefers to keep to himself. He wears earphones that are not plugged in to any device to avoid talking to others, and spends his break times alone in the school chapel. When a new student, Mizuho (Ai Hashimoto), joins his class she is immediately drawn to him, sensing a fellow lost spirit. We later discover that Mizuho’s father is running from his debts, meaning that she changes schools regularly and is therefore unable to form lasting friendships. The two develop an increasingly intimate relationship, with Mizuho calling Kakeru Sunusumukun, after a character in the Moomin cartoons who is quiet and loves music. She calls herself Mii, after an outgoing and selfish character. They decide to start a band together, with Kakeru playing guitar and Mizuho on piano.

Directed by Takahiro Miki and written by Miki with Yukiko Mochiji, the film is small in scale but excels at telling its story. Set in Hokkaido, it uses the bleak surroundings and snowy townscapes to great advantage. There are some creative touches such as the sound being cut when Kakeru has his earphones to emphasise his alienation from others. Likewise, he is framed early on without other characters in shot, further highlighting his self-determined exile from the company of his classmates. Kento Yamazaki and Ai Hashimoto have good chemistry together and capture their awkward friendship perfectly. Both starring in early film roles, their performances are natural and they play off one another brilliantly.

The film is a gentle drama about friendship and finding companionship. Mizuho’s father struggles with debt and alcoholism. These are important issues in their own right, but the film’s focus on Mizuho rather than her father shows us something that is often overlooked, that is the children’s suffering from circumstances that are outwith their control. Mizuho’s inability to form friendships and establish a life in one place, due to her father running from the police, is a painful reminder that she is at the whims of her father. The film certainly has a melancholic edge, with the symbolism of the solitary Control Tower standing for a lack of communication between individuals in a world grown increasingly isolated. As in other films, music is seen as something that can bring people together, and effect a change in outlook.

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