Monday, July 25, 2022

Fantasia ’22: Deiji Meets Girl

Maise Higa feels like a towny working in her parents Okinawa resort hotel, but a lot of teenagers would probably consider it a pretty cool summer job, especially when attractive Ichiro Suzuki checks in. He is not the baseball player, but Higa is sure he is famous from somewhere. Regardless, she is definitely interested in him, despite the weird events that start happening around him in Ushio Taizawa’s 13-mini-episode micro-series, which screened in its entirety during the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival.

Higa is embarrassed by her family (except her grandmother), because she is a teenager. She can’t help noticing Suzuki has that brooding James Dean thing going on, but she just can’t place him. Nevertheless, she must respond to some unusual room service calls when the hotel first floods like a fish bowl and then becomes entwined in a giant Jack-and-the-beanstalk-like tree. In both cases, she traces the fantastical source back to his room.

Fortunately, these incidents never disrupt the hotel’s service for long. They must have some fantastic insurance. Higa also starts developing ambiguous feelings for Suzuki, even though he seems to be somehow causing all the hassle. Something about his melancholy touch her.

Taizawa nicely balances the sweetness and sadness throughout
Deiji. Despite showing the seams of its credits, the collected Deiji plays nicely as a standalone short film, just over twenty minutes in length. It would pair up nicely with Masaaki Yuasa’s anime feature, Ride Your Wave. Taizawa tells his tale with disciplined brevity, but he still manages to fully develop Higa’s bright, strong-willed personality.

is another excellent example of how anime filmmakers are generally better at marrying up romantic and fantastical genre elements. The animation is also considerably lusher and more refined than what we see produced for the major America TV/streaming outlets, which are usually driven by broad, crass humor. They do it better in Japan, definitely including Taizawa. Recommended for fans of animation and teen drama, Deiji Meets Girl will be distributed by GKIDS, following its Canadian premiere at Fantasia ’22.