It’s a Summer Film! (2020)

Something is very telling with the way time-travel narratives appeal recently in Japanese Pop Culture. From anime’s Tokyo Revengers and Bokutachi no Remake, to interests captured by Summer Timemachine Blues’ recent restoration, to that latest one-take film, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes. Especially with the context of the on-going pandemic, that every day we seem to wish that an infinite relatively “better” past would come back. 

From all these, It’s a Summer Film! places itself apart from the approaches of the titles mentioned above. It’s a Summer Film has done away with the experience of time travel itself while maintaining this theme of time travel by only supplementing one element: the time-machine. But it places a lot of build up towards the exposition of its time-travel aspect that whatever exposition that was built is still needing of trust from the audience that we believe that Rintaro (Daichi Kaneko) came from the future.

What the film entrusts us is something quite sinister: Rintaro slipped up and shared that movies do not exist in the future. This discursive evil, so to say, made It’s a Summer Film closer to a psychological realism blended with its science fiction. What can be more futuristic to us, realistically, than an anxious certainty of disappearance? 

The life-affirmist would combat this knowledge of a future disappearance by changing the future by, as Rintaro suggests, unfailing effort. This undid the formal departure made by It’s a Summer Film! from other time-travel narratives mentioned above and made its attempt to go back to a “better” past and have it extend towards the future. Even worse is that it repeats what I noted back in another note on this Heideggerian fear of time common within time-travel films (as explicitly expressed by the characters wary of making a Time Paradox). 

And it turns out that everything was just fine: Rintaro’s mission of going back to the past was to see Barefoot’s (Marika Ito) debut film which had a record of being screened but got lost in the future, and that the conclusion of the film made us understand why this is the case. The film is fun, and bop, and all that would make a really fine time watching a film. But in the end, It’s a Summer Film! is just really this entertaining piece of movie where nothing happened.

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