Itomichi (2021) poster
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 178 users
# of Watchers: 320
Reviews: 1 user
Ranked #6186
Popularity #14821
Watchers 178

Soma Ito is a high school student in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture. She has a talent for playing Tsugaru-shamisen. The music is native to Aomori Prefecture and involves the traditional folk instrument Tsugaru-shamisen, which is a plucked three-string instrument. Ito learned to play Tsugaru-shamisen from her now-deceased mother. Due to her strong Tsugaru dialect and her shy personality, she has a hard time playing in public and also experiences difficulty in social settings. She doesn't have any friends. To change herself, Ito begins a part-time job at a maid cafe. Her father, Koichi, watches anxiously over her while she works her new job. By meeting various people, Ito begins to grow as a person. (Source: AsianWiki) Edit Translation

  • English
  • Română
  • magyar / magyar nyelv
  • עברית / עִבְרִית
  • Country: Japan
  • Type: Movie
  • Release Date: Jun 25, 2021
  • Duration: 1 hr. 56 min.
  • Score: 7.5 (scored by 178 users)
  • Ranked: #6186
  • Popularity: #14821
  • Content Rating: G - All Ages

Cast & Credits

Photos

Itomichi (2021) photo
Itomichi (2021) photo
Itomichi (2021) photo
Itomichi (2021) photo
Itomichi (2021) photo
Itomichi (2021) photo

Reviews

Completed
WandereR
9 people found this review helpful
Feb 24, 2022
Completed 5
Overall 8.5
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 9.5
Rewatch Value 8.0

Coming of Age

Itomichi is a fascinating and heartfelt coming-of-age story that revolves around highschool student Soma Ito. Awkward and shy due to the embarrassment of her unique Tsugaru dialect, she keeps to herself most of the time and doesn’t have any friends. She does happen to be an extremely talented Tsugaru-Shamisen musician, a skill inherited from her mother, but due to her introverted personality, she conceals her talent from outsiders. The film will showcase Soma Ito’s journey of growth to realising her potential both as a person and a budding traditional folk musician. The title Itomichi refers to the thread that is used on the finger when playing the shamisen.

Yokohama Satoko directed and wrote the screenplay for this film, which is an adaptation of the eponymous novel written by Osamu Koshigaya who specialises in youth themes. Itomichi is her second book to be adapted into a film. Takuma Watanabe (Aristocrats) serves as the composer. The theme song Eden no Shoujo comes from Mishiranu Sekai, the 10th album of Ningen Isu, a Japanese 3-piece rock band. Katsumi Yanagishima (Zatoichi, Battle Royale) is the cinematographer for this project.

Principal photography took place from September to October 2020 entirely in the Tsugaru region of Aomori Prefecture and features scenes of Hirosaki City, Itayanagi Town, Kitatsugaru District, and Hirakawa City. Itomichi won the Best Picture Award and Audience Award at the 16th Osaka Asian Film Festival as well as numerous other awards at the 13th TAMA film Award, 34th Nikkan Sports Film Awards (New Face Award for Ren Komai) and 95th Kinema Junpo Best Ten Japanese Movies (9th placing).

What I Liked

First of all, the narrative and the storytelling approach. This is one of the most intriguing coming-of-age films I’ve seen. I have a preference for slow burn, emotive and inspiring stories when it comes to depictions of slice-of-life with realism and relatability. For me, Itomichi undoubtedly falls within this category, with a dose of Japanese sensibility. In fact, Japanese filmmakers are masters of this distinctive approach to the genre where all elements of the story blend beautifully with the cultural aspects and atmospherics of the setting. Case in point, the juxtaposition of traditional music and modern cosplay which represents the context of this film.

In addition to the direction, other production aspects are equally well executed, which further enhances the quality of the screenplay. The filming locale has a charming appeal that is exquisitely framed by the excellent cinematography. The stunning visuals not only showcase the beauty of the setting but also evoke a somewhat nostalgic mood to the storytelling. I certainly appreciated some of the quiet and delicate moments that conveyed the complexity and depth of emotions despite having minimal dialogue between the characters.

The music in this film constitutes the backdrop of the story and abundantly features the traditional folk themes of the Tsugaru-Shamisen that is native to the Tsugaru region. I’m a huge fan of traditional music and as far as Japanese folk music is concerned, the shamisen is an enchanting instrument that is a favourite of mine. It’s ever present in Japanese jidaigeki productions but rarely, if ever, in contemporary films so I’m utterly thrilled that the beautiful sounds of the shamisen is afforded the spotlight in this story.

Komai Ren impresses as the central character, Soma Ito. Her absorbing portrayal exudes an aura of mystique that gradually draws viewers in, as it did for me. I honestly do think she was the right choice for the female lead, having also been born in Aomori which is the setting of the narrative, and she speaks the Tsugaru dialect fluently. Fun fact: In preparation for her role, she had trained playing the Tsugaru-Shamisen for nine months.

Toyokawa Etsushi, the multiple Japan Academy Award winner and recipient of numerous acting honours, plays Soma Koichi. His experience truly shines even in a supporting role, through his subdued and nuanced interpretation of Soma Ito’s father. Kurokawa Mei portrays the charismatic Kasai Sachiko while Nakajima Ayumu cuts an enigmatic figure of Kudo Yuichiro, the manager of the maid coffee shop. Yokota Mayuu’s headstrong and manga-loving Fukushi Tomomi completes the team of maids.

The final aspect that I have enjoyed immensely is the perfectly executed and extremely befitting ending. There’s nothing more gratifying than a production that sticks the landing flawlessly, complete with a powerful stage performance of the Tsugaru Aiyabushi.

Final Thoughts

Do not be fooled by the poster (at the time of writing, in case it gets changed by MDL). The fluffy vibes are somewhat misleading and completely misrepresent the actual tone of the film. If you’re in the mood for a heartwarming and poignant film with realistic portrayals and enthralling music, then Itomichi would most certainly be worth checking out.

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Details

  • Movie: Itomichi
  • Country: Japan
  • Release Date: Jun 25, 2021
  • Duration: 1 hr. 56 min.
  • Content Rating: G - All Ages

Statistics

  • Score: 7.5 (scored by 178 users)
  • Ranked: #6186
  • Popularity: #14821
  • Watchers: 320

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