Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Legends of Japanese Rock 'n' Roll Cinema: Shikisoku Zeneration

Shikisoku Zeneration, a recent coming-of-age film, is based on a semiautobiographical novel written by Japanese sub-culture icon, Jun Miura. The story takes place during the author’s youth in the mid-70’s. The main character and his friends are all freshman at an all boy’s high school in Kyoto. Driven by their sexual curiosity and youthful angst, the boys beguile their parents into letting them travel alone to a youth hostel on a tropical Japanese island. Doomed to what feels like an eternity of uncoolness and virginity, the boys learn lessons about friendship, love, and growing up.

Like much of Miura’s work, Shikisoku Zeneration is framed by music, specifically, folk music from the 60’s and 70’s. In the comfort and solitude of his own room, the main character is constantly playing guitar and writing his own songs, yearning after the music of Bob Dylan. While away on the island, he gets his very first opportunity to share his songs with others. The experience instills in him newfound confidence and inspires him to dig deeper into his emotions.

I was blown away to learn that all of the main character’s songs in the film were actually penned by Miura himself when he was a teenager. This is just one of the many ways that this seemingly light-hearted film is actually quite intimate and personal.

I've got the original novel lying on my desk. Check back next year for a review.

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