Swing Girls poster
|Directed by||Shinobu Yaguchi|
|Written by||Shinobu Yaguchi|
|Music by||Hiroshi Kishimoto|
|Editing by||Ryuji Miyajima|
|Running time||Theatrical Cut:|
Swing Girls (スウィングガールズ) is a 2004 Japanese film co-written and directed by Shinobu Yaguchi. The film was very successful in Japan, earning a plethora of awards and critical praise. To maintain authenticity the actors in the film spent months learning to play their instruments at Yamaha Music School before they ever started filming. All the music in the film was actually performed by the actors themselves.
The Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan estimates Swing Girls earned approximately ¥2,150,000,000 in 2004, putting it in 8th place in box office earnings for the year (not including imported films).
The film takes place in rural Yamagata prefecture, in northern Japan. Thirteen girls are stuck in summer school for a make-up math class when one girl, Tomoko (Juri Ueno), peers out the window and notices the brass band leaving on their bus to perform at a baseball game. Soon after a catering truck arrives, having missed his opportunity to deliver the band's bento boxes for the day. In a last-ditch effort to get out of class Tomoko pleads with their teacher Ozawa (Naoto Takenaka) to let them deliver the lunches themselves. He reluctantly agrees and the girls take a train to the game. After gorging on one of the lunches they miss their stop and are forced to walk to get to the game on foot. Along the way they manage to drop the bento boxes in the mud while diving out of the way of a train and then decide to waste more time washing off at a nearby stream.
The girls eventually make it to the game where the cymbal player, Nakamura (Yuta Hiraoka), makes them hand them out. Of course because they ate one on the train he's left without his. That works out in his favor, however, as all 42 members of the brass band come down with food poisoning and are sent to the hospital. Because Nakamura is the only one left healthy, he's tasked with finding replacement musicians for the time-being. Unfortunately the only people that show up to audition are two punk rock girls with an electric bass and guitar and a shy girl with a recorder. Out of complete desperation Nakamura confronts Tomoko and tells her that if she and her classmates join the band he won't tell anyone that they're the ones that contaminated the lunches. She reluctantly agrees, but only as a scam to get out of the make-up math class.
Because there are far too few girls for a classical brass band, and probably because he's intimidated by the two punk rock girls, Nakamura comes up with the idea to switch to a big band style. The girls agree and after practicing for a few days they secretly start to enjoy it. However, when the real brass band returns they're forced to give up their instruments. The girls pretend they don't care, claiming to be happy that they got out of math class, but as they leave the building they all start sobbing.
Prompted by Tomoko, and after much consternation, the girls eventually manage to get their own instruments and form a band. They dub themselves the Swing Girls (and a boy) and begin playing anywhere they can, culminating with an epic performance at the winter music festival.
- 28th Annual Japanese Academy Awards
- Best Picture (nominated)
- Best Director - Shinobu Yaguchi (nominated)
- Best Screenplay - Shinobu Yaguchi (won)
- Best Music - Mickie Yoshino and Hiroshi Kishimoto (won)
- Best Sound Recording - Hiromichi Kori (won)
- Best Film Editing - Ryuji Miyajima (won)
- Newcomer awards - Yuta Hiraoka and Juri Ueno (won)
- Most Popular Picture (won)
- Juri Ueno as Tomoko Suzuki
- Yuta Hiraoka as Takuo Nakamura
- Shihori Kanjiya as Yoshie Saito
- Yuika Motokariya as Kaori Sekiguchi
- Yukari Toyoshima as Naomi Tanaka
- Nagisa Abe as Trumpet girl #2
- Noriko Eguchi
- Hana Kino as Manager at supermarket
- Fumiko Mizuta as Yuka Yamamoto
- Naomi Nishida as Basist
- Mutsuko Sakura as Suzuki Mie (Tomoko's Grandmother)
- Miho Shiraishi as Yayoi Itami
- Issei Takahashi as Band Leader
- Masaaki Takarai as Kubota-sensei
- Naoto Takenaka as Tadahiko Ozawa (math teacher)
- Kei Tani as Morishita
- Eriko Watanabe as Sanae Suzuki
- Asuka Yamaguchi as Chika Kubo