NOBUHIKO OBAYASHI’S ’80S KADOKAWA YEARS
RELEASED OUT NOW! 1981-1986 | 15 | Blu-ray
Director Nobuhiko Obayashi
Cast Hiroko Yakushimaru,
Tomoyo Harada, Ryôichi Takayanagi, Riki Takeuchi
Early in his career, arthouse director Nobuhiko Obayashi (best known for cult ’70s horror House) was out of time and out of fashion: too strange for mainstream audiences; too tender for a more radical one. This box set brings together four of his smaller films from the ’80s.
The stand-out is The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, a beautifully dreamy version of the novel later adapted as an anime film. It’s joined by School In The Crosshairs (about a shy high-school student discovering telekinetic powers) and two less fantastical entries: coming-of-age movie The Island Closest To Heaven and black and white love story His Motorbike, Her Island.
Each feels like walking through a dream, with sepia-tinted footage that slowly blots into colour and strangely coordinated dance sequences. Even the most mundane images are imbued with poetry, like the curl of steam from a cup of hot tea. What really shines, though, is Obayashi’s respect for the inner lives of young women. His heroines are shy but steely, perpetually curious, fanciful and romantic, but never stupid.
This elevates the collection beyond being a curio, revealing a quiet intelligence and wistful disposition that brings pathos to Obayashi’s eventual legacy as a surrealist filmmaker.
Extras One highlight is an interview between a historian and Obayashi’s daughter, where she shares anecdotes about working on her father’s film sets (27 minutes). Another is video essay “Obayashi:
Femininity In Transition” (15 minutes). There are two archival interviews with the director (39 minutes). Three of the films come with new commentaries. Plus: audition footage of Girl Who Leapt actress Tomoyo Harada (seven minutes); music video; trailers; booklet. Kimberley Ballard
In the late ’70s, Obayashi was attached to a space-based Godzilla pitch. The story for it was published in Starlog in 1979.