School Days with a Pig

Mark Godfrey

JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL: After rookie teacher Mr. Hoshi decides his class’s project this year will be to raise, and then subsequently eat a piglet they all name P-Chan, the principle reluctantly agrees. And so begins this charming little tale of morals.
School Days with a Pig
After rookie teacher Mr. Hoshi decides his class’s project this year will be to raise, and then subsequently eat a piglet they all name P-Chan, the principle reluctantly agrees. And so begins this charming little tale of morals. Set in a Japanese Elementary school, the politics of keeping the piglet on site, the clashing views of parents and other teachers form an inferior sub-plot to the main theme in this film, which follows the kids’ dilemma of whether to actually go through the original plan and eat P-Chan after the year is through. Through wind and rain and illness they all form a solid bond with the animal, further complicating the decision and forcing Mr. Hoshi to seek out a new home for their pet, as it becomes clear no one wants to see the poor creature end up on their dinner plate. In contrast to the few boys in the class who maintain that pigs should be eaten, P-Chan is befriended in particular by new student Hana, a quiet girl who earns the audience’s sympathy with her quiet manner and dedication to the piglet. In the end the project becomes as much a challenge for Mr. Hoshi as he had intended it to be for his students, as he his obliged to ask some tough and controversial requests of his co-teachers. School Days with a Pig is similar to School of Rock in the way most of these children are clearly not actors, and that lends a documentary-like style to the flow of the story. In Japanese with English subtitles, it is difficult for the non-Japanese speaker judge the quality of the dialogue, and as with all translation the result is never exact, sometimes resulting in awkwardly phrased lines where there is no direct translation. I’m pleased to note these are at a minimum in this movie, albeit there is a fair amount of repetition. There is no real score to speak of, but what little there is, is to the point and complements the mood of the story at each point very well. The photography is also great throughout with some excellent scenes of Japanese society, exposing a very real and dynamic Japan as the perfect setting for this coming-of-age journey. School Days with a Pig Country: Japan Year: 2008 Running time: 106 Minutes Genres: Comedy, Coming of Age, Drama, Family Friendly Programs: Contemporary World Cinema, Planet Cinema Language: Japanese Sub-Titles:English Sub-Titles Cast & Crew Director: Tetsu Maeda Producer: Toshihiro Isomi Editor: Koichi Takahashi Screenwriter: Hirotoshi Kobayashi, based on the novel by Yasushi Kuroda Cinematographer: Yasuhito Kasai Awards: Tokyo International Film Festival 2008 (Audience Award, Toyota Earth Grand Prix Jury Award) Music: Shoji Yoshioka Principal Cast: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Mieko Harada, Ren Osugi 13th Japanese Film Festival

About the author

Mark Godfrey is a Melbourne based web developer, guitarist and singer-songwriter, and a veteran of the UK rock pub/club circuit. When not doing any of the above he enjoys stargazing and reading theoretical physics.