User Reviews (2)

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  • This was one of my earlier films dealing with childhood and growing up in Japan and in many regards the Japanese children are not so different than their American counterparts. The common roles of bully vs victim and the passive adults watching and aware but not intervening seems to be universal. I guess the adults somehow think that if they allow these ancient hierarchic roles to play themselves out naturally that valuable lessons will be learned and the children will grow to be better adults because of it. This films storyline does kind of follow that same conclusion in that the bully does eventually come around, soften his ways, feels remorse and all is good. I do like the idea of this storyline even though in real life we now know that the scars of childhood bullying can have lifelong and highly detrimental repercussions for its victims. Never-the-less, I really liked this film. The children actors were all great and endearing, the rituals unique to the Japanese culture were very interesting to see. I have to admit that the children's Sumo wrestling school competition was a highlight for me. Perhaps because I've always and only ever associated it with huge, hulking grown men. Either way it was pretty cool to see.
  • Oh, if only the school bully could be so easily turned in real life.

    The great Ryu Chishu stars as a kindly and even indulgent teacher, who seems rather at odds with the strict and regimented school atmosphere at the time in Japan. He seems the ideal supporter for a backward boy, Kanta, whose parents are new arrivals in the town. The teacher encourages his boys to treat the new lad well, and Kanta gradually shows hidden talents, such as being able to make perfectly spherical clay balls.

    But the arrival of another new boy, Kinzo, heralds change. Kinzo is a clever bully who ruthlessly manipulates Kanta and makes much fun of him. The teacher refuses to discipline Kinzo, instead insisting that things will work out well.

    Much of the narrative covers the developing relationship between these two boys. The cruelty that children wreak on each other is shown in excruciating detail, and I found it hard to watch the backward Kanta allow himself to be continually put upon by the scheming Kinzo.

    Kanta even helps out when Kinzo stuffs up, just as the teacher predicted. Thus, Children Hand In Hand manages to combine the gritty reality of poor schools in post-war Japan with an unbelievably optimistic picture of faith in man's good nature triumphing over baser instincts.

    In short, very watchable and never dull, though rather hard to credit. I saw a fairly good print of this film at this year's Japanese Film Festival here in Sydney. One rather credible Japanese audience member asked, without irony, if it were a true story. I stated that it was very unlikely, as I had never seen a school bully so readily turned.