With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Thursday, July 09, 2020

WE ARE LITTLE ZOMBIES available online and in select theaters tomorrow

Oscilloscope Laboratories
We Are Little Zombies / Wî â Ritoru Zonbîzu
Written and Directed by Makoto Nagahisa
Japan, 2019, 120 minutes

We Are Little Zombies, Makoto Nagahisa's impressive feature film directorial debut, can be screened at home or seen in select cinemas starting tomorrow, July 10, 2020. Information about how to see the film can be found here.

The film is ostensibly a "youth movie" as it's four young main characters have an average age of 13.5 years. The main protagonist is bespectacled Hikari Takami (Keita Ninomiya), an only child and a video game otaku. His parents die when their tour bus is involved in a road accident. At their cremation, Hikari meets three other young people whose parents have also died in unusual circumstances. Shinpachi Ishi (Satoshi Mizuno) lost his parents to a freak gas explosion; those of Yuki Takamura's (Mondo Okumura) committed suicide; while the parents of Ikuko Ibu (Sena Nakajima), the lone female in the group, were murdered.

(l to r) Sena Nakajima, Keita Ninomiya, Mondo Okumura, and Satoshi Mizuno in Makoto Nagahisa’s WE ARE LITTLE ZOMBIES. Photography by Hiroaki Takeda. © 2020 Oscilloscope Laboratories / The Nikkatsu Corporation

Each of the four are emotionally deadened, as if they're zombies, but alive. They form a rag tag band, calling themselves Little Zombies. Hikari handles vocals, pudgy Ishi is on drums, Takamura plays bass, and Ikuko is on keyboards. They become a big sensation and their album "Who Killed Them" is a huge hit.

We Are Little Zombies tackles some heavy subject matter for a "youth movie." It does so without being either pretentious or preachy. There's a nice touch in using Hikari's devotion to video games as a motif, such as obtaining objects, advancing levels, etc. The film had its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where it was the winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Originality, and deservedly so.

AsianCineFest Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended.

For those interested, We Are Little Zombies was previously reviewed by John Atom at VCinema on November 1, 2019 in conjunction with its screening at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival on November 10th. Read John's very positive review here.

Also, two other Japanese "youth films" that are also well worth watching are Linda, Linda, Linda (2005), which starred Doona Bae as a Korean exchange student in an all girl band at a high school in Japan and All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001).

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