SWING GIRLS (Japanese)
  Publicity Stills of "Swing Girls"

Genre: Music/Comedy
Director: Shinobu Yaguchi
Starring: Shihori Kanjiya, Yuika Motokariya, Yukari Toyoshima, Yuta Hiraoka
RunTime: -
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Official Website: http://www.swinggirls.jp/index.html
Rating: PG

Release Date: 17 March 2005

Synopsis :

A sweltering summer day in a remote town in Northeast Japan…A high school brass band boards a bus to cheer their baseball team. Meanwhile, 13 losers take make-up classes, taught by the math teacher, Ozawa (Naoto Takenaka), but their minds are miles away. One of the girls, Tomoko Suzuki (Juri Ueno), stares enviously out the window. Suddenly, a van filled with lunch boxes pulls up, but the driver has missed the bus. Staring vacantly at the spectacle, Tomoko has an idea…

The 13 girls board a local train under the ruse of delivery lunches. They scarf up one of the lunches, snooze and miss their stop, and have to walk the lunches to the stadium. As it turns out, the precious lunches have spoiled in the heat and the entire brass band and their director Itan (Miho Shiraishi), wind up hospitalized.

With the band out of action, the baseball teams practices for their next game. Takuya Nakamura (Yuta Hiraoka), cheated out of a lunch by the girls, scrambles to organise an Instant Brass Band Club, but he’s stuck with the 13 losers and 3 other odd ducks. When he spies a jazz album, he realises they are perfect for a Big Band jazz band. As the girls practice intensively, they gradually master entire melodies, playing with real enthusiasm and pleasure.
On the eve of the baseball game, the Brass Band recovers. The Instant Girls cover their disappointment, but burst into tears as they walk home. When school’s back for the fall, they decide to form the Swing Girls. But instruments are pricey. The girls take part-time jobs, wrecking havoc wherever they go. As girls drop out, the Swing Girls are reduced to five, but they start performing anyway.

Their math teacher, a closet jazz aficionado, takes them on and they start getting into the swing. Excited, their sisters return, and they decide to enter a student music competition. If they’re accepted, they can play on a huge stage. First one disaster, then the next. The Swing Girls dream debut performance seems forever out of reach. When will they have their day…

Movie Review:

Director Shinobu Yaguchi follows up with his 2001 comedy hit, "Waterboys" with yet another triumph effort, "Swing Girls". Even though the movie featured an all new cast, all selected from an open call. The girls are completely natural performers and the lead girl, Juri Ueno (who looks quite similar to the girl in the hit Japanese series, Beach Boys) has the talents to strike it big with her combination of cutie-pie and cheeky look.

Making up the rest of the odd group is a range of colourful characters from the quiet to one having eating obsession to rock guitarists. The injection of these multi-personalities not only captivate your attention but also your sense of humour.

The plotting is simple. A group of girls with the intention to skip make-up Maths class ended up embracing the passion of Big Band Jazz and resorted to ways to make money to pay for their musical instruments. First on the cue, taking up part-time jobs in the local supermart. Given the style of Yaguchi, expect some hilarious moments as the cheeky girls are caught having a moment of "romance" with male manneqins, if this is not enough, a fun, laugh-out-loud sequence involving an unintended wild boar killing during the students' mushroom picking outing.

Filmed in the north-eastern side of Japan, the cinematography itself is as captivating as the story. Let yourself flow with the luxurious greenery of summer to the snowy winter as the girls strived hard to master the musical instruments and groove to the right notes.

It's of great satisfaction and heart-warming to see the girls (not forgetting a boy on the keyboard too) playing the great jazz classics at ease, blending faultlessly into a Big Band Jazz towards the end. Take this journey along with the Swing Girls and be entertained by their pure, musical numbers, their hardwork and their bone-tickling antics.

Movie Rating: B+

Review by Linus.T.

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