Chihiro (Kasumi Arimura) is a former sex worker, turned bento shopworker in a small town in Japan. She’s free-spirited and tends to avoid playing by the normal rules of life. Along the way, the film follows her journey as she tries forming friendships with people that others wouldn’t, including that of a young boy that lacks the attention of his mother, a young girl that feels trapped by her family and a homeless man that’s often mocked by others. It’s worth noting that Call Me Chihiro is currently streaming on Netflix.
Director: Rikiya Imaizumi
Writers: Rikiya Imaizumi, Kaori Sawai, Hiroyuki Yasuda
Starring: Kasumi Arimura, Hana Toyoshima, Tetta Shimada
Released in late February of 2023 to audiences worldwide, Call Me Chihiro is the film adaptation of the Japanese manga, Chihiro-Sun by Hiroyuki Yasuda. The drama based flick includes some subtle hints of comedy throughout the one-hundred and thirty-one minute runtime and the director, Rikiya Imaizumi, ultimately manages to bring a calm, gentle and sophisticated feel to the big screen.
Call Me Chihiro takes place in a rural seaside Japanese setting, Hiroshima City to be exact, and features some nicely crafted cinematography, while showcasing Japan in a positive light. Japanese culture and society in general are also focused on prominently, with family dynamics, friendship and judgment from others being many of the areas explored. There’s also little to no soundtrack, which only compliments the direction of the picture and subject areas being explored.
One aspect of the movie that may be somewhat off-putting to some viewers would be the length – it certainly could be argued that it ran for far longer than needed, while many of the scenes did seem to extent their stay in terms of time. The dialogue was also pretty short, snappy and to the point, with some initially interesting characters ultimately lacking backstory and detail.
In terms of the cast, Kasumi Arimura adopted the role of Chihiro and landed the majority of screentime, supported elsewhere by the likes of Hana Toyoshima and Tetta Shimada, who portrayed two children by the names of Kuniko and Makoto. There were others involved, including Keiichi Suzuki, who undertook the role of the “Homeless Man”, a key role in the opening stages.
Ultimately, this is a rare venture in Japanese filmmaking for me, with the only other Japanese release reviewed on the website being “Ride or Die (2021)”, but it’s certainly an area that I’d like to explore more of. The film might not be for everyone, but if you’re looking for a peaceful and rather wholesome flick to watch one evening, Call Me Chihiro would be an intelligent choice. As previously mentioned, Call Me Chihiro is currently streaming on Netflix.
“When did you realise I was Chihiro from the shop?”
Chihiro – Call Me Chihiro