Celebrate Good Times, not Bad with Kodomobanpaku

Kodomobanpaku is a movie that offers a a genuine look at giving kids the space they need to learn, grow up, and be themselves.

KodomobanpakuWhen life in Japan gets too stressful, perhaps all anyone can do is the Kodomobanpaku (こどもばんく). This wonderful Japanese drama by Norikazu Oda shows what children can do when life gets them down, and they’re wanting to do something about it. Instead of grieving, they want to escape by being at a fun spring festival. In this film’s case, it marked the start of the online portion of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

In Izumi Morishita’s (Asumi Momoha) case, it’s in getting such a show to happen for their little town. This event is organised by tweens for tweens. She and her best friend Yuri have been watching Yuzu (Yun Kosugi)’s video blogs of him playing guitar and singing. I suspect there’s puppy love going on too.

When she discovers Yuzu (Yun Kosugi) is now attending her school, she’s excited. The day prior, she learned he’s no longer able to upload new music videos because he revealed his family is moving. Since she has this event in the works, the young girl asks if he can headline.

The rest of the film is about them raising money (via crowdfunding) to pay for the necessities of running Kodomobanpaku (children’s festival). Izumi can’t do it alone, and thankfully her older brother is able to assist. But they have to recruit the talents. 

Being a young social influencer is very tough in an age where TikTok is available. It’s not like the days of television comedies about them with shows like iCarly (old and new) and the silly pranks pulled. We get a quick peek into this subculture from a Japanese perspective, and the scarier side is just that; thankfully, it’s not explored but acknowledged.

Instead, Kodomobanpaku feels like a genuine look at giving kids the space they need to learn, grow up, and be themselves. When parents shelter their kids too much, the result may not be for the better. The hurdles these girls face are scary. I was glad to see them deal with the pressures with grace and humility, since they really want to succeed. They even help Yuzu break past his own insecurities, and deal with a mother who’s been holding him back.

The little musical moments inspire and touch the heart since it defines the heart of this film. Like a certain song from The Beatles, all any success story needs is that support, With a Little Help From their (than my) Friends, to achieve success.

4 Stars out of 5

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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