“Japanese movies today are no good,” says 25-year-old director Yasutomo Chikuma. “I really want you to write that.”
Chikuma’s own “Ima, Boku Wa” — which he wrote, directed, produced and starred in — is a response to what the filmmaker sees as an unhealthy obsession with escapism and box-office returns.
The story concerns a “hikikomori” (shut-in) named Satoru Suzuki and his often disastrous encounters with the outside world. In the past decade, emotionally and socially isolated youngsters like Suzuki have become a hot-button issue, but Chikuma said he was drawn to the subject by its close proximity to his own life. “I realized that there were many such people all around me,” he says.
Chikuma maintains this connection throughout the film by employing a leisurely pace and uncomfortably close camerawork to keep the audience firmly in Satoru’s awkward shoes. “My main goal was not to explain about NEETs and ‘hikikomori,’” he stresses. “It was to portray the emotions of one young man who had become a ‘hikikomori’… to explore the mind of this one individual.”
Over the past year, “Ima, Boku Wa” has won acclaim from audiences at venues like London’s Raindance film festival and Frankfurt’s Nippon Connection Festival.
The film is currently showing at Shibuya’s Uplink theater.
This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).