April Story 四月物語 (Shigatsu monogatari) [1998] • Japan

A sweet slice of life portrait of a girl's transition from a high school in Japan's northern countryside to university in Tokyo. It's a series of vignettes that begins with her family seeing her off and ends with a reveal of why she went to this particular university. In between we watch her move into her new apartment, cook meals for herself, meet her neighbors and classmates, buy a bike, and browse a bookstore. It may not sound like much but it's very well crafted. Takako Matsu is as endearing as can be. It was a pleasure to see her, as a teenager, play this naive young girl after having recently seen her, at thirty-two, play an archetypal Japanese woman in Villon's Wife.

This is a short film, at just over an hour, that doesn't attempt much more than capturing a few moments in the life of a girl who is not only changing her outward surroundings but also following her inward desires. The reason she chose to go to the university in Tokyo is because her unrequited crush on a boy one year her senior is attending it. The film could have been longer and explored their relationship but then it wouldn't have ended as poetically as it does right at the moment they meet. Broken umbrellas, a rainstorm, and a barrel full of young love, idealism, and hope. Simply beautiful.

Director: Shunji Iwai
Starring: Takako Matsu, Seiichi Tanabe, Kahori Fujii, Rumi, Kazuhiko Kato


  1. Hey, long time no see. Given the no. of South-East Asian films you see, I guess in a year or two you'll have watched 'em all :)

    Anyway, I've posted my Top 100 movies of the 2000's. Do have a look.

  2. That's a piece of work. I will study more carefully soon