Suzuki Tomoko, along with ten plus classmates, has been sentenced to spend their summer vacation confined within their school and listen to her dull teacher Ozawa-sensei drone on and on about math equations that she, her classmates, and Ozawa-sensei himself could give a flip about. Therefore she envies the members of the school's brass band who gets to travel with the baseball team. However, on this particular hot summer day the band's bus leaves before the caterer arrives with the band's lunches. Because the caterer has another delivery, Tomoko, along with the other girls in the class decide to deliver the lunches. While on the train they eat one of the lunches and subsequently fall asleep missing their stop. After suffering such setbacks as jumping into rice paddies to avoid an oncoming train and having to wash their socks, the girls finally deliver the lunches to the brass band and their conductor. However, Nakamura Yuta, a boy Tomoko constantly bickers with, does not receive a lunch because his was consumed on the train ride. However, it seems an angel of mercy was looking over Nakamura when the other members of the brass band suffer a major bought of food poisoning.
Nakamura, being the only member of the brass band who is healthy, is given the task to put together another band for a major baseball game. However, only three girls show up to volunteer: two punk rock girls who play guitar and bass respectively and Sekiguchi Kaori, a sweet, nerdy girl who can play the recorder. However, knowing that Tomoko ate one of the lunches, he spotted a grain of cooked rice on her chin at the baseball game, Nakamura orders Tomoko and her summer school classmates to join the brass band. However, there number only totals sixteen, which is too small a number for a brass band. Yet, after a few events, Nakamura decides instead to start Big Swing Band.
Instead of playing music at first, Nakamura makes the girls exercise to build up their strength and lung capacity for a long performance. The girls eventually begin to enjoy playing their instruments, but right before the big game the brass bands members regain their strength and perform instead of the girls. However, seeds of love for music have been planted in the hearts of the saxophonist Tomoko, the trumpeter Saito Yoshie, the trombonist Sekiguchi, and the drummer Tanaka Naomi and while the other girls quit in order to hang out with some boys, this little group, with Nakamura in tow, sets forth to start their own jazz band.
Before actually watching this film, my only knowledge concerning it was that it was directed by the director of Waterboys, but having yet to watch that film this left me with little information for what to expect. However, I received the experience of watching a very enjoyable film that was without violence, unless you count snowball fights and Naomi's butt cracking the head of a wild boar when the girls go matsutake hunting, without angst, without hormonal frustration, etc. The young actresses have a wonderful chemistry and seem like actual friends instead of actresses. Also, the personalities of Tomoko, Nakamura, Yoshie, Sekiguchi, and Naomi are very well fleshed out and each one of them has their own personal quirks: Yoshie's falls for every cute boy she sees, the mild Sekiguchi excels at whatever she does but is ignored by those around her, and the deadpan Naomi has a wonderful dry sense of humor. Combine all of this with a truly outstanding performance at the end of the film, the girls later on went to perform in New York and Los Angeles, make for a very nice film watching experience.
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