Early spring in Hokkaido, northern Japan. Taichi, a young
boy who tends to be a dreamer, has just arrived from the big
city to live with his mother’s new boyfriend, a veterinarian,
and his daughter. One day after school, Taichi discovers the
cub of a northern fox crouching near the side of the road
and despite the objections of those around him, decides to
take care of the lovable creature. The baby fox cannot see,
cannot hear and cannot bark. Even when offered milk, it just
ignore. So Taichi names it Helen, after Helen Keller, the
first blind, deaf and mute woman who was able to communicate
using the sign language. Helen responds to Taichi’s
devoted caring efforts and begins to strive for live, in spite
of her frail body. The boy and his veterinarian family watch
over her with encouragement and love.
a boy and his puppy-like fox, on a sunny day, roaming freely
through ever so-green meadows with yellow blooming daisies
and white dandelions flurrying past in the wind. Everything
is just that serene and relaxed, just the sound of the light
wind. Brilliant cinematography from all angles captures and
presents awesome, breathtaking landscape.
apart from it, audience witnessed and be touched by the pristine,
heartwarming relationship between the little boy, Taichi and
a baby fox, the subject of his newly-found “guardianship”,
not by intention though.
fox is special from the normal breed, with its handicapped
hearing, eyesight and “speech”. So that’s
how it is named as “Helen” after Helen Keller.
The poor cub seems to be isolated in its own helplessly soundless
world and left deserted by its own species to struggle for
affinity felt by Taichi towards little Helen is more than
just caring for a poor, abandoned animal. But perhaps he can
see himself in Helen and be reminded of the occasional surges
of feelings being left behind by his mom under the care of
his soon-to-be stepfather, the veterinarian and his elder
step-sister. Whereas the baby fox is even worse than him,
it cannot take care of itself and rely on Taichi. So he is
very determined to nurse Helen back to good health before
returning it to its natural habitat, be with its family. As
time passes by, the inevitable bond gradually grows between
both. Little Helen can sense the world through Taichi and
recognize his touch, footsteps. And even “barks”
miraculously for Taichi.
the baby fox being the focus, it is like a “Babe”
farm over here too. It is an amicable, wacky family of Man
and animals under one warm roof. A “glutton-like”
dog (that looks like adult Quill – Quill was the dog
in the last film of same producer), a goat, an “always
damsel in distress” parrot, rabbits etc makes the more
the merrier so as to speak of. The process of taking care
of Little Helen also effectively breaks the ice that allows
Taichi, the veterinarian and his daughter to understand one
another better and bonds them closer as a real family, overcoming
the initial barriers.
cute boy, Taichi (Arashi Fukasawa) has wowed over the audience
with his young, acting skills that is natural. It seems like
the Japanese artiste world has another blooming child actor
to be fully nurtured in the near future. He has displayed
great chemistry and showed genuine affection towards his main
co-star, the baby fox. I guess it is not that hard to fall
in love with the extremely adorable, cuddly cub but it really
does take a certain real fondness of animals out of a person
to “interact” and “act” comfortably
with a non-human, regardless how excellent the animal trainer
impression of foxes, long depicted as cunning animals in fairy
tales or other children books, lingers in my mind since childhood.
And feel there is this little tinge of irony and amazement
that this film shows they can be as vulnerable and be tamed
as others. Their young cubs resemble ordinary pet puppies
in the movie.
The surprising duo, Takao Osawa and Tasuko Matsuyuki, as the
single parents of the two children, are familiar faces, having
acted in Japanese TV drama series. Their scenes together on
the big-screen (for the first time I remembered), though is
short, has added the extra spice to the movie.
good educational, gratifying film suitable for all ages.
by Alicia Tee