Director: Keita Kono
Starring: Takao Osawa, Yasuko Matsuyuki,
Arashi Fukasawa as Taichi, Ryoko Kobayashi
RunTime: 1 hr 49 mins
Released By: InnoForm Media & Shaw
Official Website: http://www.helen-movie.jp
Opening Day: 27 July 2006
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.
Remember those enormous picture storybooks your primary school
teacher used to read to the whole class? They sure bring back
fond memories, don’t they? Besides the attractive colourful
illustrations, those wholesome stories also conveyed some
important life lessons in ways that enabled young minds to
learn and have fun at the same time.
latest Japanese import to reach our shores works exactly like
those educational stories, except that everything is envisaged
on the big screen. From the vivid colours to the plot, this
movie directed by Keita Kono will remind you of those childhood
story is straightforwardly simple. A young boy (played by
the endearing Arashi Fukasawa) finds a sick baby fox at the
roadside and decides to take care of the adorable animal.
To make things uncomplicated, enter a vet who happens to be
the new boyfriend of the boy’s mother. Together with
the vet’s daughter, a story about hope, survival and
love is told.
plot is clearly geared at family crowds, or boys who want
to bring girls on a movie date. The 109-minute movie unfolds
itself in a predictable manner. The discovery of the baby
fox, the introduction of the boy’s new family, the comical
and cute moments between the boy and his newfound pet, the
tragic and moving moments when the unwell animal almost loses
its life – all these scenes will play out exactly the
way you expect them to.
that this is a bad thing though, considering the genre of
this heartwarming drama. There are a few ideas that are effectively
dealt with in this movie. Responsibility, perseverance, care
and concern for others, and most importantly and somberly,
death, are just some of the lessons younger viewers will walk
older audiences, there are always the beautiful images to
look at. The vast fields filled with lovely dandelions, the
wide and open seas, and other gorgeous sceneries of Hokkaido
will please those who like their movies to be picturesque.
are also in for a treat because this movie features a few
interesting animal characters. There is a greedy dog, a talkative
parrot, billy-goats, rabbits and geese, just to name a few.
Of course, the star of the movie is the titular baby fox,
which gives a very commendable performance here, from acting
sick to giving the impression of feeling touched. The emotions
of this animal are all brought out by its trainer very well.
And for some of you, this may be the first time you hear a
The credit of this movie also goes to the human cast. Fukasawa
delivers a fine performance, thanks to his boyish and charming
features. The vet played by Takao Osawa (who was also very
likeable in 2004’s Crying Out Love, in the Center of
the World) puts his nice-family-man image to fine use in this
short, when you have the always-workable ingredients of cute
animals, an adorable child actor and a moving plot, the movie
would not steer too off course.
all, this movie will motivate you about life. The baby fox
is named after Helen Keller, the deaf and blind American author
who had inspired the lives of many, right up to today. And
the lovable creature is personified in such a way that you’ll
feel for its mishaps and its constant will to persevere in
its fragile little life. Yes, Helen the baby fox is exactly
like one of those animal characters in a storybook you read
in your younger days.
(An enjoyably wholesome movie for the whole family, with some
inspiring lessons for the young ones)
by John Li