Ninja Girl シュシュシュの娘(こ)Director: Yu Irie (2021) [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]

Ninja Girl   Ninja Girl Film Poster

シュシュシュの娘(こ) Shushushu no Musume (ko)

Release Date: August 21st 2021

Duration: 88 mins.

Director: Yu Irie

Writer: Yu Irie (Script)

Starring: Saki Fukuda, Ryoka Neya, Matsuo Yoshioka, Mayumi Kanetani, Shohei Uno, Arata Yamanaka, Arata Iura,

Website IMDB

The shushushu onomatopoeia in the Japanese title of Ninja Girl is the swishing sound of shuriken thrown through the air. However, the titular character at the heart of this film is probably the least able shadow warrior one could find with shurikens not in her armoury and, even if they were there, she would probably not able to use them.

This is the comedy of Ninja Girl, the latest work by Yu Irie, a veteran director whose name has more recently been attached to many major mainstream films like Memoirs of a Murderer (2017). His film shows the least likely person taking a stance against conservative political orthodoxy. In order to make it, he had to turn to crowd-funding since no major studio would be likely back a story with subject matter critical of the establishment, especially not during the Covid-19 pandemic which is when this was filmed with a small team as a quick and fun pick-me-up for an industry afflicted by the cancellation of projects. Since it is an indie film, Irie returns to the cheaper rural locations featured in his earlier titles, like 2009’s 8,000 Miles (aka SR: Saitama Rapper), and makes great use of them to bring about a deliberately bumbling action film set in what looks to be a boring part of Japan defined by low-rise buildings, featureless fields, and winding roads.

The ninja girl we follow is Miu Komaru (Saki Fukuda), a timid and somewhat naïve young woman who lives on the edge of rural Fukuya City, Saitama. We watch her quiet quotidian routines and see her time is split between her work at Fukaya city hall, where she is snowed in by paperwork, and her home, where she looks after her bedridden paternal grandfather, her last living relative. While she is pensive and obsequious, he is a political firebrand who is at odds with the local government who have co-opted nationalist thugs and xenophobia to influence the area.

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