With this focus, on Sat. April 2, HIFF presented
the Hawai’i premiere of Out of This World (Kono Yo
No Sotoe Club Shinchugun), written and directed by Sakamoto
The film begins in Japan after World War II ends. A Japanese
soldier, Hirooka Kentaro, returns home and finds a Japanese
band playing jazz music for the Americans who have won the
war. He meets up with one of the band members, Hirayama “Joe” Ichijo,
who plays bass. Kentaro and Joe were both in high school
military band before the war. Joe tells Kentaro that some
of the old
military band members are in the band he plays for, and they
make good money playing at different hotels.
Kentaro, whose father sold most of the band members their
instruments, trading them for army weapons, forms his own
band, the Lucky
Strikers, with Joe and other former soldiers: Ikeshima Shozo
on drums, and Oono Akira on piano. They are hired to play
at the Enlisted Men’s Club, a bar for American soldiers.
On opening night they add another Japanese veteran to the
band, Hiro, the trumpet player.
Backstage, conflict arises when an American soldier, Russell,
who lost his brother in the war, calls the musicians “Japs” says
they are an insult to jazz. The club manager, an American sergeant,
Jim, tries to explain Russell’s behavior, but in a later
scene Kentaro returns the insult, calling American music the “music
of the enemy.”
The Lucky Strikers continue to play jazz and eventually Kentaro
and Russell form a bond, and Russell even composes a song
for Kentaro, who is eager for more music to play.
One day Russell finds Hiro dead from a drug overdose, on
a bathroom floor in a bar. He is the one who must tell Kentaro.
The incident deepens their friendship, but soon after it,
is deployed to Korea to fight in another war.
A few months later, Jim, the American sergeant who manages
the club, tells Kentaro that Russell died in combat. As tribute
to his American friend, Kentaro has the band play the song
Russell wrote for him, “Out of This World,” and
both the Americans and the Japanese put aside their differences
in sorrow for a lost comrade.
Because the film shows the aftereffects of war from a Japanese
point of view, it is an excellent choice for HIFF’s
showcase of the Lessons of War. Although the film may not
full understanding of the differences of the two cultures,
it does provide insight into the humanity of soldiers and
the common postwar challenges they faced.
The film, in Japanese and English with English subtitles,
is especially appropriate for people in Hawai‘i, where
a variety of different cultures have integrated.