Swing Girls (Japanese Movie)
Why you should watch the 2004 Japanese film "Swing Girls"
Swing Girls (Suwingu Garuzu) is a charming Japanese movie by Shinobu Yaguchi about the efforts of five high school students -- four girls and a boy -- to form a jazz band. Above anything, the movie is all about teamwork and overcoming challenges to reach a shared goal.
The comedy film stars Yuta Hiraoka (Takuo, the bandleader), Juri Ueno (Tomoko), Shihori Kanjiya (Yoshie), Yuika Motokariya (Sekiguchi) and Yukari Toyashima (Naomi). One of the best things about this movie is that the actors actually performed their own music!
I watched this film recently, mainly because I enjoyed Shinobu Yaguchi's work on Waterboys and Juri Ueno's acting in Nodame Cantabile, but I found Swing Girls so delightful and entertaining that I just had to share it with all of you. If you want to learn more about this inspiring and uplifting Japanese film, please read on.
Swing Girls DVD with English subtitles is available at YesAsia.
Presenting the Swing Girls!
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Swing Girls Movie Synopsis - Read about the story of four delinquent girls (and a boy) and the unlikely path they end up choosing to follow.
It's a sweltering day during summer vacation in a remote town in northeast Japan. The Yamakawa High School brass band climbs aboard a bus, off to provide moral support for their team at a local baseball championship. Thirteen delinquent girls who are stuck in remedial math with Mr. Ozawa (Naoto Takenaka) look out enviously from a classroom window. Tomoko Suzuki (Ueno Juri) notices that the caterer had missed the bus and so the band's lunches were apparently left behind. She gets the bright idea of ditching class and delivering the lunches themselves.
However, the girls' extreme laziness causes the lunches to spoil, and soon nearly the entire brass band gets sick. The remaining member is Takuo (Hiraoka Yuto), who recruits Tomoko's classmate Sekiguchi (Motokariya Yuika) into the band, even though Sekiguchi's musical talents are entirely in question. But Tomoko and the other girls soon follow, partly to get out of math class, and partly because it's their fault that the entire band got sick in the first place. But there's a catch: nobody knows how to play a wind or brass instrument, much to the dismay of Takuo, who proposes that the girls play swing band jazz - and take their act all the way to a battle-of-the-bands finale!
Intense training sessions on school band instruments follow but they face many other challenges: taking on odd jobs so they can buy their own instruments, members dropping out, and a situation involving a wild boar (!). They manage to survive the odds and the remaining girls, who at first have trouble even making a sound, gradually start to play entire melodies. Gradually, what started as a scheme for cutting class gives way to actual enthusiasm for music.
Add the fact that their remedial math teacher turns out to be a jazz enthusiast so he coaches them into some real swing. Excited to see their friends' transformation, the members who left eventually returns and the Swing Girls finally achieve that Big Band sound.
Watch the Swing Girls Trailer - This movie has subtle humor and a sharp wit so prepare for some laughs!
Film director Shinobu Yaguchi ran across an account of a dwindling high school brass band that reinvented itself as a youthful Big Band. He decided to track the band down to the boondocks where he found an ensemble composed almost entirely of girls with bobbed hair breezing through jazz numbers. The contrast between the band's look and its sound inspired Yaguchi to create Swing Girls, set against the seasonal beauty of northeastern Japan.
Hit play and watch the trailer below. Enjoy!
Information sourced from AsianMediaWiki
Buy the Swing Girls DVD on Amazon - Watch it from the comforts of home.
Get ready to swing! From the director of Waterboys comes Swing Girls, an inspirational zero-to-hero tale about a group of girls who find their rhythm - and then some! Tomoko (Ueno Juri) leads a group of bored girls stuck in remedial summer math class, who decide to ditch their boring teacher (Takenaka Naoto) to deliver lunches to the school brass band.
Description from Yesasia
Directed by Yaguchi Shinobu (Waterboys), Swing Girls struck a chord with audiences thanks to its feel-good emotions and energetic cast of young girls, and ranked eighth at the Japanese box office for 2004. Like the characters they play, many of the actors were strangers to their instruments when filming began, and learned to play as filming went on! Full of humor, heart, and more than a little satisfying irreverence, Swing Girls is a toe-tapping, crowd-pleasing good time at the movies!
The Cast of Swing Girls
Who's who in the charming Japanese movie
Swing Girls was a huge success, ranking #8 at the Japanese box office in 2004, and winning seven prizes at the 2005 Japanese Academy Awards, including "Most Popular Film" and "Newcomer of the Year" awards for Yuta Hiraoka and Juri Ueno, launching their careers. See the complete list of characters below.
The Swing Girls
Juri Ueno as Tomoko Suzuki (lead saxophone)
Yuta Hiraoka as Takuo Nakamura (keyboards)
Shihori Kanjiya as Yoshie Saito (trumpet)
Yuika Motokariya as Kaori Sekiguchi (trombone)
Yukari Toyoshimaas Naomi Tanaka (drums)
Naoto Takenaka as Tadahiko Ozawa (math teacher and jazz sensei)
Extended Cast List
Nagisa Abe - Reiko Shimoda
Noriko Eguchi - Shop Assistant at Muscial Instruments Shop
Hana Kino - Manager at supermarket
Fumiyo Kohinata - Yasumi Suzuki
Fumiko Mizuta - Yuka Yamamoto
Naomi Nishida - Masumi - student at music school
Mutsuko Sakura - Suzuki Mie (Tomoko's Grandmother)
Miho Shiraishi - Yayoi Itami
Issei Takahashi - Band Leader
Masaaki Takarai - Kubota-sensei
Yoji Tanaka - Manager of Pinball Parlour
Kei Tani - Morishita
Eriko Watanabe - Sanae Suzuki
Asuka Yamaguchi - Chika Kubo
Information from AsianMediawiki / Photos are screen grabs from the film
Listen to the awesome Swing Girls OST - Revel in their bright and lively big band jazz
The main cast members were all selected from an open call as members of the Yamakawa High School Big Band because director Shinobu Yaguchi completely overlooked the need to cast performers with musical skills. However, just like in the movie, several months of intensive practice and rehearsals allowed the actresses to record all the musical numbers in the film. Listen to the fruits of their efforts in the Swing Girls OST.
Songs performed in Swing Girls include "In the Mood" by the Glenn Miller Orchestra (song playing while walking along the apartment complex), "Moonlight Serenade" by Glenn Milller (The first song played at the concert finale), "Mexican Flyers" by Ken Woodman (The second song played at the concert finale), and"Sing Sing Sing with a Swing" by Benny Goodman (The final song played in the concert finale). Listen to the music performed by the actors themselves in the Swing Girls soundtrack.
Memorable moments in Swing Girls, the 2004 film - Watch the clips and see why this film was such a big success in Japan.
Swing Girls (2004) Photo Gallery - Memorable scenes from the heartwarming Japanese movie.Click thumbnail to view full-size
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