Directed by Katsuhito Ishii, Kanoko Kawaguchi, Atsushi Yoshioka
Official Selection, 2014 Udine Far East Film Festival
Junichi has a pink bunny eraser. But it’s not his! Somehow he’ll have to return it to its rightful owner who happens to be his classmate – and his secret crush. Meanwhile, his buddy is in a pickle too. His parents are constantly arguing and he can’t even properly shoplift some bandages to give to his ailing mom. There’s also the case of a missing cell phone and the arrival of a peculiar student teacher. With so much going on, Junichi’s never going to find the time or the courage to return that eraser!
It goes without saying that it’s far easier to observe cute little third graders than to actually be one, especially when school is getting more ludicrous by the day and when one’s models for romance are the class’s dopey teacher or the small town’s bone-headed twenty-somethings. But there is a solution and it’s going to be adorable. Start a rock band!
Director Katsuhito Ishii (The Taste of Tea, Funky Forest) has made a career out of whimsical randomness and enchanting song-and-dance numbers, and here manages to conjoin the far-out fantastic with the squishy-cheeked heroics of puppy love. Ishii distinctively understands that the best kids’ films are at heart dopily sad and wondrously pervy because kids haven’t yet learned to filter out the tangential or the erratic. HELLO! JUNICHI allows them to thrive within that unfiltered world of possibility and sing their hearts out, if only for one day. –Brian Hu
Cast: Amon Kabe, Hikari Mitsushima, Yoshiyuki Morishita