JAPAN 2010 Directed by: Miki Takahiro Manga by: Asano Inio Written by: Izumi Takahashi Produced by: Keiko Imamura, Osamu Kubota, Masaro Toyoshima Cinematography by: Ryuto Kondo Editing by: Soichi Ueno Music by: Asian Kung-Fu Generation Cast: Aoi Miyazaki, Kengo Kora, Kenta Kiritani, Yoichi Kondo, Ayumi Ito, Arata, Kento Nagayama, Sayuri Iwata, Jun Miho, Kazuo Zaitsu
SOLANIN, based on the popular manga by Asano Inio, tells the story of Meiko who lives with her boyfriend Taneda in a small apartment at Tama river. They met in college six years ago, but today they both still have no clue what to do with their lives. Meiko works in an office, while Taneda is a freelance illustrator and part-time guitarist in a rock band called Roche that also features Meiko’s best friend Kato. Problems arise when both decide to quit their jobs, while Taneda can’t decide if and how to continue with the band.
When they finally complete their demo CD and get in touch with a major record company, things don’t go exactly as expected, causing Taneda to disappear and Roche going on an indefinite hiatus. Everyone’s life is in serious disarray, until Meiko discovers a song written by Taneda called “Solanin”; the band decides to carry on with Meiko replacing Taneda, giving their career another shot despite the surrounding uncertainty.
Music ain’t a rational thing, and hardly ever are “music films” too rational either. Expecting SOLANIN to impress with a complex story, flawless writing, sharp logic or an explanation why the sun rises in the East would be naïve. SOLANIN is a film about the troubles of youth and growing up, the difficulties finding your place in society, and the ultimate task for any of us: making somewhat sense of life.
Consequently, SOLANIN is a dystopian description of how Japan’s youth timidly makes their way into the world, how they respond to the challenges of growing up and what’s on their minds when dealing with the future. SOLANIN may not be about how they actively pursue their goals (for that they’d need goals in their lives in the first place), but it wonderfully depicts how Meiko et al. indefatigably are, without necessarily going anywhere.
Existing consumes most of their energy, and what’s left is used up defending their dreams. Their struggle undeniably has an irresistible charm, and is loaded with emotions we are all too familiar with. SOLANIN captures the monochromatic moods of growing up, and consequently it relates to the audience in unspoken ways, making it a beautiful experience rather than a film following the textbook.
Sometimes it all comes down to the question if you feel it. Ultimately, this will draw the line that divides the audience and decide if you’ll fall in love with SOLANIN, or not.
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