Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura
Starring: Ryo Nishikido, Fuku Suzuki, Rie Tomosaka, Keisuke Horibe, Jun Inoue, Shiori Kutsuna
Also know as Chonmage Purin in Japan (Topknot Pudding), A Boy and His Samurai follows samurai Yasubei (Ryo Nishikido) as he finds himself out of time and his element when he wakes up in modern Tokyo. Unsure of how to get back home, he finds himself relying on divorcee Hiroko (Rie Tomosaka)and her young son Tomoya (Fuku Suzuki)for lodging and help. In order to repay their generosity, he takes it upon himself to take care of the house and be a helping hand to the busy Hiroko’s working mom lifestyle. While preparing food, he discovers that he has a special affinity for pastry. As he gets closer to Hiroko and Tomoya, as well as his possible place as a chef in the future, he starts to question his search to find a way back to Edo. Will he stay in the future? Or will he return to the past from where he was spirited?
Ryo Nishikido is good as Yasubei and he portrays the ‘fish out of water’ act of time travel films well. His stoic but honest Yasubei feels quite a bit like the more humanistic portrayals of samurai in recent period films. Rie Tomosaka is very good as the harried but loving single mother who finds an unexpected friend in the out of time Yasubei. Fuzu Suzuki’s Tomoya is alright I guess, people seem to really like his performance in other reviews, but I felt he was solid if a bit annoying. His clingy and emotional portrayal is understandable when taken as that of a child, but he seems to not necessarily grow during the film like his mother and Yasubei clearly are able. The best parts in the film are when all three are together; as humor, warmth, and drama all plays out quite naturally whenever these character populate a scene.
The movie takes a sedate role as is common in many Japanese dramas, but it felt quite warranted considering the story. Most characters are clearly developed and as the viewer, I genuinely was compelled by the ‘what next?’ The production value is good with clean but hardly challenging camera work and direction. It still looks quite good but it plays the safe route. Music is solid but hardly memorable, though when classic Japanese samurai music is played when uses his samurai skills, I get a kick out of the modern folks expressions.
Movies like this I tend to enjoy a lot, a simple human drama with a bit of a twist. The time traveling element is thankfully unexplained, but the real meat of the story is the relationship between people. It has a nice little message that the talents people have may never see the light of day if not nurtured and cultivated. There is an emphasis on family as well, while is a nice change of pace from the mature cinema I’d been watching lately. And as an aside, the pastry scenes are good and I love watching good food be created. This isn’t a food film, but the food on display sure does look tasty.
A Boy and His Samurai is a nice little film that will more than likely, leave a smile on your face should you feel the movie is worth a look. Anchored by strong performances and chemistry between the three leads, it is shot well and fans of the modern Japanese drama should be quite happy with the film. While not a perfect film, the warmth and nice pace was quite satisfying and a fine way to spend the runtime.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Cellular and JIN