This was one of my earlier films dealing with childhood and growing up in Japan and in many regards the Japanese children are not so different than their American counterparts. The common roles of bully vs victim and the passive adults watching and aware but not intervening seems to be universal. I guess the adults somehow think that if they allow these ancient hierarchic roles to play themselves out naturally that valuable lessons will be learned and the children will grow to be better adults because of it. This films storyline does kind of follow that same conclusion in that the bully does eventually come around, soften his ways, feels remorse and all is good. I do like the idea of this storyline even though in real life we now know that the scars of childhood bullying can have lifelong and highly detrimental repercussions for its victims. Never-the-less, I really liked this film. The children actors were all great and endearing, the rituals unique to the Japanese culture were very interesting to see. I have to admit that the children's Sumo wrestling school competition was a highlight for me. Perhaps because I've always and only ever associated it with huge, hulking grown men. Either way it was pretty cool to see.
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