When new, smart and sweet Tokyo girl, Rumiko, starts at a rural elementary school, Akira finds himself smitten, like every other male pupil. Newcomer's popularity is contrasted with the ... See full summary »
When new, smart and sweet Tokyo girl, Rumiko, starts at a rural elementary school, Akira finds himself smitten, like every other male pupil. Newcomer's popularity is contrasted with the less-tolerant treatment of scruffy Hideko, who, thanks to the arrival of a carnival freak-show in town, is nicknamed the Wolf Girl. Teachers and parents snootily consider the carny off-limits, but Akira is determined to find out whether Hideko really is a wolf girl. Written by
The only reason I'm not giving it a 10 is that it uses some kid actors whose skills were not a match for those of the principals. Japanese children's movies are a little edgier than G rated movies in the U.S., so if I were giving it an MPAA rating, I'd have to give it a PG. I saw it with English subtitles, so it wouldn't be accessible to younger non-Japanese speaking children, in any case. This movie does not have a Hollywood/Disney ending, but it is a moral tale about doing the right thing and true friendship.
The story takes place in the 1970's and centers on three 11 year olds who attend a rural elementary school, Akira Ohta, Hideko Komaru and a new girl in class, who makes an impressive entrance, interdicting a bullying episode on the playground, and then introduces herself to her new classmates as Rumiko Tezuka.
Akira is a bit of a misfit and a dreamer who doesn't quite gel with his male peers. Hideko is a shy outsider who is the butt of everybody's jokes at school. Her tormentors call her "Wolf Girl", inspired by her seemingly feral demeanor and also by the presence of a Wolf Girl act in a carnival freak show encamped next to the town's Shinto shrine. Rumiko is a city girl, beautifully dressed, speaking impeccable, Tokyo Japanese and with a take-no-prisoners style of standing up to bullies. She seems an unlikely candidate to befriend both Akira and Hideko, which sets off a wave of gossip among both male and female peers, leading to more physical attacks and counter attacks.
There is a side plot involving the strained relationship between Akira's parents that contributes further to Akira's sense of isolation and emboldens him to violate school rules and find out who the carnival wolf girl really is.
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