An interesting early feature by Shûsuke Kaneko. He's a bit of a cult director who often takes on cheesy franchise projects, but Summer Vacation 1999 isn't as shlocky as most of his other films. It's a pretty moody and intriguing drama/mystery that proves he has more to offer than you'd wager at first glance.
The story begins with the suicide of Yu, a young boy attending a boarding school. Three classmates who bullied Yu remain at the school for the holidays and freak out when they meet the new kid: a boy who is the spitting image of Yu. The three believe Yu has come back to take revenge, but the boy has no idea what they're talking about.
The beginning is very atmospheric, with nice camera work, moody lighting and a solid soundtrack. Performances are pretty good too. The film loses some steam halfway through as it gets a bit too repetitive and the ending isn't as powerful as it could've been. Still, a worthy film from Kaneko that makes me curious about his older work.
Light drama from Shusuke Kaneko. The film starts off like a somewhat simple and predictable family drama, but the second half has quite a few poignant moments that added a bit more depth than I initially gave it credit for. It's certainly a very easy film to dream away to, which makes it true to its title.
The Rinkaiji family looks like your average happy, suburban family, but as is often the case, drama hides behind their happy front. When daughter Sugina meets her stepfather in the park while skipping school, they decide to forgo society's expectations, starting a little company of their own.
Performances are decent, the cinematography is pleasant and the tone is light. The first half is a little too meandering though, as there is no real urgency and no obvious point to the film. Kaneko corrects that during the second half and the film did leave me with a rather pleasant feeling. Hardly a masterpiece, but very agreeable filler.
Worthy but flawed
A direct sequel to Kaneko's first film. I've never been much of a fan of the Death Note franchise and this film didn't do much to change my mind. Too long, too serious and too many poor twists. Kaneko's direction is mostly functional, honouring the narrative but failing to bring much joy to this production. For fans only.
One of Shûsuke Kaneko's earlier films, where he started to move away from his pinku origins. Kaneko has had quite a varied career that spans several peculiar niches, No Worries on the Recruit Front is a more basic mix of drama and comedy that seems to target more commercially-minded audiences.
The premise feels a bit otherworldly by modern standards. The idea that college graduates need to fight off prospecting companies may be typical for the Japanese bubble era, but rings a bit hollow now, especially with Kaneko's slightly exaggerated approach. No doubt this had a bigger impact upon its original release.
Performances are decent but nothing special, Kaneko's direction feels a bit uninspired and the drama is too by the numbers. Some office troubles, romantic woes and the unavoidable baseball at night scene, there all in here, but they never manage to leave a solid or coherent impression. Not terrible, but also not a very remarkable film.