28 user 20 critic

Swallowtail Butterfly (1996)

Suwarôteiru (original title)
The struggles of a group of immigrant outcasts living in an alternative-future, xenophobic Japanese metropolis.


Shunji Iwai


Shunji Iwai
4 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Hiroshi Mikami ... Feihong
Chara Chara ... Glico
Ayumi Itô ... Ageha
Yôsuke Eguchi ... Ryou Ryanki
Andy Chi-On Hui ... Maofuu
Atsuro Watabe ... Ran
Tomoko Yamaguchi Tomoko Yamaguchi ... Shenmei
Nene Ohtsuka Nene Ohtsuka ... Reiko
Kaori Momoi ... Suzukino
Yoriko Dôguchi ... Hoshino (as Yoriko Doguchi)
Mickey Curtis Mickey Curtis ... Doctor
Tetsu Watanabe ... Yakuza boss
Sansei Shiomi Sansei Shiomi
Shirô Takehatsu Shirô Takehatsu ... (as Shiro Takehatsu)
Shiek Mahmud-Bey ... Arrow


After a young girl's mother dies, she is cared for by Glico, a brassy hooker, who gives the girl the name "Ageha" (Butterfly). Ageha goes to work for a collection of oddballs who run a junkyard and salvage business. Written by sharptongue

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


This is the story of Yentowns in Yentown.


Crime | Drama


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User Reviews

a post-modern adult fairytale
27 September 2003 | by liangdongSee all my reviews

A post-modern adult fairytale like this cannot shows up every year and even today, when I have already seen all of Shunji Iwai's films, I still have no clue about where did this one surface. It is fairly easier to comprehend ‘love letter' or ‘April story', based on a single good idea, or maybe a little more hard work and careful planning with ‘picnic', but there is no fixed procedure to follow in order to conjure up a desperate complex like this.

The hand-held camera movements and those documentary-like jumping shoots, which make some people uncomfortable in other Iwai's film, are more balanced with montage here. Nevertheless, it is the director's favorite way of seeing this world and had been intentionally deployed just as a reflection of personal disposition but not a obligation in a drama.

Note that it is vital to have all those cool figures, even the cameos, which is a test of originality almost all pseudo-filmmakers would fall short and, on the other hand, the audiences never fail to appreciate. However, unlike his contemporary Kitano, Iwai seems have been running out of sarcastic wits ever since then, or maybe just he was too much occupied by subtle tragedy-romance receiving enormous popularity among teenagers.Despite this, he remains one of the few promising film makers in new millennium Japan.

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Japanese | English | Mandarin

Release Date:

14 September 1996 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

燕尾蝶 See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Rockwell Eyes See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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