((summary taken from azntv))

On the outside, tough scrapyard worker Takeo (Tamaki Hiroshi) seems to have nothing in common with the innocent, almost childlike Asato (Koike Teppei), but both are lonely souls bearing dark pasts. Crossing paths by chance, Takeo, Asato, and shy diner waitress Shiho (Kuriyama Chiaki) strike up an unlikely friendship, making life in their dead-end hometown a bit more bearable. Asato was born with special powers that prove to be both his blessing and his curse: he has the ability to transfer other people's wounds to his own body.

He can't help but try to heal those around him, including Takeo and Shiho, but his powers come at a painful cost. Asato's powers tore apart his family years ago and continue to tear at him in the present. With Asato determined to hurt himself to help others, Takeo may be the only one who can save his friend.

Otsuichi's works are known for their acute depictions of pain and loneliness, and Kids again hits the heart with the story of three friends walking a long and lonely road of suffering and healing.
Cast: Teppei Koike, Hiroshi Tamaki, Yuki Saito, Shigeru Izumiya
Directed by: Tatsuya Hagishima

My Rating:
What a beautiful movie.

First of all, I really loved the premise: a story about a boy who has the ability to transfer other peoples injuries onto himself.

I've always loved Koike Teppei (Lovely Complex; band, WaT) and Hiroshi Tamaki (Nodame Contabile; A Sleeping Forest), so even before reading the synopsis, I was determined to watch this movie. Both are superb actors for one, so I knew they'd have no problem bringing their characters to life, and for another, they're both incredibly good looking, which is a definite plus. ^_^

In the end, though, they ended up bringing more to this movie than I'd anticipated. Honestly, I thought Kids would be a bit slow and boring, despite the summary, so the main reason I was watching it was for the eye-candy and to see how they'd handle the almost supernatural aspect of their main character.

Luckily, it was a lot deeper than I gave it credit for.

The director really knew what he was doing: terrific music, great acting, tight story. And despite its impressive length (around 149 minutes) it didn't drag or seem slow at all. The character and family dynamics was enough to keep me watching. I especially liked how it was set in a small dead-end town, with a western-style diner as one of its main settings. The themes are very universal and something everyone can understand and recognize. I think a Western audience in particular can appreciate the different ways disconnected families were portrayed, and how they're eventually all shown in a more promising light. It's interesting how the act of forgiveness and healing is almost entirely initiated by the kids who have been wronged in some way by their parents, showing just how strong children can be.

I ADORED Koike Teppei's character.

Life was so unfair to him, I couldn't help but empathize. I love how he didn't harbor hatred or hold any grudges... he was always eager to help those in need regardless of the pain it caused himself. It was so touching and sad.

I also liked how they showed their friendship develop--from eating at the diner, defending each other, to converging at the park. The scene where the three new friends all come together without a word and start fixing up the decrepit old playground does a great job of establishing their friendship, as well as giving us a peek at their inner strengths and character. Like the park, each is trying to improve a part of themselves... and watching them grow and mature throughout the movie is part of its overall appeal.

I love how little kids just appear out of nowhere to start playing on the playground the minute it's fixed up and usable again. They really seem to bring the park (and in a way, the town) to life once more. Before they appeared, I was seriously starting to wonder if only six or seven people lived there, lol. While they were working, I thought, "Which kids are they fixing the park up for?"

Even with the supernatural element of Asato's gift, the story is very real, and the characters easy to like and sympathize with. I love the way they connect family, friendship, and hope. For awhile there, I was convinced that it would have a horribly sad, heart-wrenching ending... but it didn't. And I enjoyed it all the more because of it.

I'll admit... I cried a lot at the end.

Throughout the film, it's like Asato has taken it upon himself to rid everyone in the world of pain, and is willing to carry that burden on his shoulders alone. Then that touching scene towards the end occurs, and suddenly, your hope in humanity is restored.

In the end, it's a touching movie that somehow manages to end with a beautiful message. Everything doesn't have to be dark and depressing -- Life is what you make of it -- Every parent loves their child -- Never give up hope.

I really loved this movie.
My Rating:


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