Directed by Nobuhiko Ōbayashi • Drama • With Shunsuke Kubozuka, Tokio Emoto • 2017 • 169 minutes
In 2016, Nobuhiko Obayashi, the director of the cult Japanese film HAUSU was diagnosed with lung cancer and given only a few months to live. Despite not much time left, for what was supposed to be his final film he adapted Kazuo Dan s 1937 novella HANAGATAMI, his passion project 40 years in the making.
In the spring of 1941, sixteen-year-old Toshihiko leaves Amsterdam to attend school in Karatsu, a small town on the western coast of Japan, where his aunt Keiko cares for his ailing cousin Mina. Immersed in the seaside s nature and culture, Toshihiko soon befriends the town s other extraordinary adolescents as they all contend with the war s inescapable gravitational pull. With his memories as a survivor of World War II echoing in the uncertainty of world events unfolding today, director Obayashi returns us to 1941, a pivotal time for Japan, as the unstoppable momentum of war forcibly seized the lives of youth away to battlefields where they disappeared forever. In dazzling, full-bloom Obayashi style, Hanagatami captures the passion, innocence, and struggle of the end days of youth in a country consumed by the flames of war.