Last weekend my wife dragged me to a Japanese movie and I have to say that I quite enjoyed watching it. She is learning Japanese and so naturally was overjoyed when the practically inactive Japanese embassy announced their annual film festival. The film that we decided to see was called ‘Shodo Girls’. Seemed like an interesting enough plot from the festival brochure, so thought we’d give it a try. What did we have to lose anyway? Entrance was free! I was praying for subtitles though.
The film is about a calligraphy club formed by a group of school girls in a small town on Shikoku island. The town is known for its paper mills, a fact drilled into the viewer’s brain by the oft-repeated dialogue in the film that ‘those paper mill chimneys can be seen from anywhere in town’! This particular line fits into the puzzle nicely later on by shaping the gist of the second half of the film. It starts off as a comedy. The girls are shown to be very serious about their kanji calligraphy but in their midst are 3 dorky boys who end up looking like the Japanese version of the 3 Stooges. They provide some much-needed entertainment to this club which is filled with its share of teenage girl drama and politics. Add to this, a new teacher/adviser whose quirky methods confuse and annoy the girls to no end, and you have an interesting movie.
The film is quite funny and enjoyable but does get saccharine and dramatic in parts. I greatly enjoyed seeing small-town Japan though.