Junko’s Shamisen is about a young girl named Junko from what appears to be feudal Japan, who learns about growing up, the hard way. I won’t spoil the story, but it is a simple one, with a much deeper meaning. That meaning of course, is up to interpretation.
The main appeal of this short film, I’ve found, is the visuals. I haven’t really seen any film with the kinds of visuals presented in this film. It captures the atmosphere of traditional Japanese cultures and references very well.
A lot of work went into this, you can tell. I especially found the staging parts entertaining, as the stage-hands dressed in black move things around. It sort of shifts you in and out of the fourth wall, and makes the film that much more believable, and draws you in much more. The zooming of the camera definitely helps with that too.
There are some things that sort of pushed me out from the immersion, such as the magical creature, which seemed deliberately surreal, but also broke the immersion because it looked like a technical flaw. It might have felt better integrated if it was entirely CG, and not stop-motion driven.
The story was simple to understand on the surface, but the visuals really pushed some deeper psychological thought that went beyond what was narrated and presented.
The film has screened in over 50 international film festivals, and makes good visual reference to manga and anime. It has a strong Japanese stage performance influence and atmosphere.
As an artist, and one that enjoys Japanese culture, this film inspires me. It’s more than just a film. It’s a testament of the potential creativity the human mind can bring to life through inspiration and infinite possibilities. The visual candy is definitely worth the price of admission, which is free. 😉
The film is about 10 minutes long, and the entirety of it is available for your viewing pleasure on the website https://junko-film.com