NAGISA なぎさ Dir: Takeshi Kogahara (2017) Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018


なぎさ Nagisa

Running Time: 18 mins.

Release Date: June 17th, 2017

Director: Takeshi Kogahara

Writer: Takeshi Kogahara (Screenplay),

Starring: Kenshin Endo, Himeka Asami, Shu Takaura, Namiko Ikeda, Ruri Ikeda, Minami Muroi,

Cinematic explorations of first love are seemingly a dime a dozen but each can be special if given a twist and Nagisa” is special. This is a tale of innocent love at the height of summer as a schoolboy tries to get closer to the titular Nagisa and what makes it special is that Takeshi Kogahara uses various cinematic techniques to show how a human connection and a moment in time can imprint itself in a person’s memory and heart and influence a life. 

It all starts on the edge of the school pool, Fuminao, a sensitive and quiet boy, is sat next to his classmate Nagisa, a playful and teasing girl he has admired from afar.

Close-ups on their faces show them as they watch the rest of the class swim. They begin to talk for the first time. She coaxes feelings out of the boy but remains at a distance as he struggles to reach her. Cut to a long shot from a distance that will act as an anchor scene that will hold the film’s narrative in place. We watch them from behind, their voices clearly heard along with the sound of their classmates in the pool. They get to know each other. She inspires him. As the conversation flows, director Takeshi Kogahara uses multiple cut-aways to different times in Fuminao’s life while their voices from that moment can still be heard. This is just the start of a series of non-linear and visually diverse techniques in storytelling and powerful sound design which makes this tale of first love a refreshingly new experience to dive into as it envelopes the audience in an astonishing aura that draws them into the atmosphere while the story works beneath the surface to create an extremely beautiful film.

Confident shot-selection and controlled editing creates an emotional depth as we piece together the story of Fuminao’s love and the impact his conversation with Nagisa has on him. The constant movement between scenes keeps the story flowing and expands the physical/emotional world on screen. The use of blue as the dominant colour creates a liquid texture that signals changes in the emotional current with its lightening and darkening while the superb sound design roots us in that poolside conversation that sparks off everything and acts like a heartbeat. The noise of water splashing, cicadas buzzing, and other things we associate with summer added to dialogue from that moment creates the film’s constant soundscape. Most of all, Nagisa’s voice and Fuminao’s replies to her playful probing. With the repetition of the conversation, we understand the significance of every word for Fuminao and the intensity of the emotions the boy felt and how everything is etched in his memory.

Great acting from Kenshin Endo sensitively portrays a student in love and unable to leave behind the memory he has of a girl who meant so much to him. Himeka Asami is just the right side of mysterious and sophisticated that she becomes a perfect lightning rod for the boy’s feelings. Their conversation repeats over and over, showing the impact it has on the boy and how much she means to him. Consider all of the talking you do in your life. Has any one conversation stuck with you? This is one conversation he won’t forget because this is the girl he will never forget.

The techniques Kogahara uses to tell the story are so effective it helps the film build up an emotional current that sweeps the viewer into the whirlpool of teenage love and drowns them in sensory impressions that will show the impact the conversation had on Fuminao. It is a pure distillation of a moment when you meet someone truly special and they imprint themselves onto your heart. This is like seeing how memories work, powerful and compelling, this short shows Kogahara is a director to watch.

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