With Love, From Japan

The story was simple. It was about family, love, and a young girl’s memory of growing up as a 14 year old in a typical Japanese suburb where she says “nothing ever happens”. Boredom probably causes some people to murder others and bury them in concrete, she surmises.
Sugina is fresh-faced and adorable (kawaii comes to mind) but she is also a typical teenager. Living with her mother and stepfather in a pretty and orderly Japanese middle-class community, she notes that her life is quite mundane.
Despite her mother’s belief that her daughter and husband get along famously, Sugina admits she doesn’t know much about her stepfather, Nariyuki and does not communicate much with him except hellos and goodbyes in the mornings. Her mother is a contented wife and mother, proud of her husband’s rising rank in the corporate world and proud of her daughter’s academic success. She is the envy of her neighbours.
The beautiful and perfect Rinkaiji family is one day shattered when Sugina and Nariyuki discover each other’s terrible and humorous secrets! Sugina has been skipping school while her stepfather, Nariyuki, has resigned from his cushy job. And Sugina’s mother does not know…yet.
What follows is a heartwarming take on how the three come to terms with their new status in the community. Nariyuki refuses to go back to his workplace (he gets bullied by his mean colleagues) and Sugina refuses to go to school because she gets bullied by her school mates. Sugina’s mother is horrified and embarrassed because she cannot face her neighbours any more especially when she finds out that Nariyuki, ever determined and stoic, starts a homebased domestic cleaning business (Rinkaiji Heart Service) with Sugina (as his vice-president no less) despite not knowing a single thing about domestic chores!
The story, as told from Sugina’s point-of-view, starts during one fateful summer when the teenager is coming to terms with her little community and her relationship with her stepfather. Hence the title “Summer Holiday Everyday”.
The focus of the movie is about journeys of self-discovery for both father and daughter. Nariyuki is both funny and stubborn in an almost nerdy way, shown to be just like a man as he blunders through social conventions. Sugina is patient with her stepfather, possessing perception tempered with an almost adult-like wisdom about how relationships and business work in her little world.
Sugina learns that one doesn’t need to be blood relations to be a family. Her stepfather realises he has some ex-wife issues which he needs closure from. Business is slow even though Sugina and her stepfather work hard. Sugina’s mother eventually leaves when she cannot stomach the embarrassment and her neighbours’ biting gossip.
“Sometimes people need to go away for a while in order to understand,” Nariyuki explains to Sugina.
But it wasn’t a gloomy movie. Far from it. Humour was used generously – so much so Lisa and I were chuckling like two mad hens in the dark while the rest of the audience made nary a sound! Were they Japanese and thus, politely silent? Or did we both find more humour than necessary?
“Summer Holiday Everyday” is an endearing comedy which had its moments of drama and tears but it manages to come across as bittersweet and real. Love is celebrated in many forms in this movie – love between husband and wife, love between parent and child, friendship, old lovers, misunderstood love – but love is shown as enduring despite its ups and downs.
This movie, screened at The Actors Studio Greenhall, is the first of the many (free) movies which are part of the Consulate of Japan’s cultural programmes for the next few months. The Japanese movies have English subtitles.
Movies are screened on the last Friday of each month at 8pm: 28 July, 25 August, 22 and 29 September, 27 October, 17 November, 22 December.
It continues into 2007 – 26 January, 23 February and 30 March.
For more information on the upcoming movies, you can refer to www.penang.my.emb-japan.go.jp or call the Consulate of Japan at
226 3030 ext 116/117.
Admission is free and is on a first-come, first-serve basis. (There are no tickets to book or reserve, so go early.)

4 thoughts on “With Love, From Japan”

  1. Sounds like an interesting film but everything sounds interesting when you’re sleep and spent 1/3 of the night watching football (and falling asleep before the end of it).
    Just wondered if you saw the Writer article on page 3 in y’day’s The Star (business). You probably know it all already (being a famous blogger and all) but maybe it will give you further inspiration.


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