The Kirishima Thing – Daihachi Yoshida (2013) (NYAFF ’13)

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Slow and strange, constantly doubling back on itself to broaden the scope of the story, The Kirishima Thing is something like a less socially-conscious Japanese version of My So-Called Life, where the ubiquitously absent Tino is cast as an all star volleyball player — the titular Kirishima — who is at the center of everyone’s lives.

Kirishima’s seemingly innocuous decision to quit the volleyball team sets off a chain of events that runs through the core of the painfully ordinary high school, causing a rift in the school’s social paradigm.

Though an odd choice to win the 2012 Japan Academy Prize, The Kirishima Thing is a well studied, subtle coming-of-age drama that reminisces about youth without idolizing or whitewashing it.