Ai to Kibo no Machi / あいときぼうのまち
Director Hiroshi Kanno makes a creditable debut with Ai to Kibo no Machi, a sprawling generational yarn that uses Fukushima, not just as a backdrop, but as the locus for the legacy and the trauma that has afflicted Japanese society. The trauma is literalized in the life of young Rie (Miku Chiba), turning tricks in Tokyo after escaping Fukushima. She ultimately faces up to guilt and remorse for her participation in a family tragedy through the help of the only superfluous character in the film, Sawada (Kohei Kuroda). Rie’s story of coming to terms intersects with the history of her mother, Aiko (Yoko Natsuki) – a love story set in Aiko’s early teenage years in the 60s and around the fateful days of 3.11 – and with the story of her grandfather, Hideo, conscripted to mine uranium during the war. The clever use of flashbacks keep the whole from falling into high melodrama (though there are plenty of melodramatic elements) and maintains a smart discourse on the nature Japan’s tragic nuclear pact and the legacy of 3.11.
Originally published in EL Magazine, June 2014.