films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


Hot Gimmick: Girl Meets Boy

Hotto Gimikku: Garu Mitsu Boi
2019 / 119m - Japan
Hot Gimmick: Girl Meets Boy poster

If you read the manga, beware. Yamato didn't set out to make a simple manga adaption, instead she wanted to make cinema. The tropes of the genre are exaggerated, the cinematography is lush, the soundtrack an interesting update of classical pieces and the editing ... well, the editing is simply to die for. This was awesome.

Welcome to a new generation of directors. 21st Century Girl is an anthology featuring only young, female directors, tasked to make a film for 21st century girls (hence the name of the project). Apart from Yuki Yamato, I wasn't familiar with any of the chosen creators, so I was looking forward to the result.

Read all

Lack of consistency is often seen as a weak point of anthologies, personally I love the versatility they bring. That's my only real critique here. While there are a few highlights and no real disappointments, I expected a bit more variation in themes and styles. It too often feels like there's just one typical 21st century girl, which is highly doubtful.

My main takeaway from this film is that Yuki Yamato is by far one of the most promising young directors working in Japan today. I instantly recognized her short and it's easily the stand-out of the bunch. The rest of the women deliver solid films, and they all deserve their shot at a full-length feature. For an anthology though, I expected a tad more creativity.

Drowning Love

Oboreru Naifu
2016 / 111m - Japan
Drama, Romance
Drowning Love poster

One of Yuki Yamato's earlier films. Drowning Love is essentially a standard (rural) teen romance, even so, Yamato already shows promise in her direction. It's not quite at the level of her later work yet, but there are several scenes that jump out and help to elevate the film above its peers.

Read all

Natsume is a young fashion model on the rise, but the health of her grandfather forces her family to move to the countryside. Natsume has to put her career on hold and feels bummed, but when she meets the enigmatic Koh, son of the local Shinto priest, she lights up again. A traumatizing experience at the local festival drives the two apart.

Solid performances and an appealing setting are genre staples, it's Yamato's feel for pacing and editing that make this film stand out. It's not quite as elaborate or as distinct compared to her later work, but there are definitely a few scenes where Yamato's hand is clearly visible. A lovely film that lacks a little refinement to become a true personal favorite.