The coming of age film: the story of growing up, discovering love, life and social expectations together with the issues surrounding friends, family and adversaries are themes that pervade this genre-ette. Although See You Tomorrow, Everyone is a story of growing up, discovering love, life and social expectations together with the issues surrounding friends, family and adversaries it is so refreshingly different and yet eminently believable that it becomes a treat to watch. Ultimately this is solid storytelling but with a twist in that the central character is confined within his environment.
Government housing projects, self-contained communities, were considered to be the modern way of living in the 1970s and early 1980s. Satoru (Gaku Hamada) has lived there all his life, along with his mother, in a community that normally sees youngsters keen to escape into the wider world. Satoru is determined to live in the projects for the rest of his days and the story follows his life and those of his friends, all of whom were at school together. Satoru still has recollections of those in his old school, recalling their dreams and idiosyncrasies through a series of sketches he made about them, which are far more personal than the school’s photographic yearbook. High school did not appeal to Satoru so he is only educated to elementary school level but that doesn’t stop him living a full and active life. He wants to find love and seeks employment, and he is eventually taken on as an apprentice at the project’s cake shop. Satoru has a very good reason as to why he cannot leave this sanctuary. His friends find ways to understand and deal with his needs, but eventually they grow up and leave, seeking to live their lives and fulfil their dreams.
The social housing project and how it evolves over a 15 year period forms the backdrop for Satoru’s story. Far more than a kitchen sink drama, this is about one person growing up with a psychological trauma that few can really understand. As a result See You Tomorrow, Everyone is that rare film which successfully combines elements that are normally difficult to balance – humour, compassion, outrage, romance, violence and social issues in one realistically portrayed film. It covers a long time period but never seems rushed or overtly epic. This is a complex film both in a narrative and thematic sense but never does it seek to make judgements about either the character or the society in which he lives. Its title refers to the classmates’ end of day greeting as the children bid farewell to their fellow students and teacher. As the film reminds us throughout the running time, every year there is a record of how many members of Satoru’s original class remain on the estate. Satoru wants to have his cake and bake it – he develops cookery skills and carves himself a career, but he also wants a relationship, maybe with one of his old classmates, maybe with the girl next door or maybe the new girl in the estate. All these desires result in complications for everyone involved, particularly Satoru, because of his inability to escape.
Intelligent, entertaining film-making, See You Tomorrow, Everyone is well worth a look. Gaku Hamada’s performance is remarkable, especially considering the story’s long time scale. If the coda is designed to tug at the heartstrings a bit too strongly, the preceding film has been so absorbing, you can forgive it.