Two of Japan’s fastest-growing actresses star in director Ryutaro Nakagawa’s latest film, but it’s not another coming-of-age story.
Instead, “One Day You’ll Reach the Sea” is about a woman trying to cope with life after her best friend from college disappeared in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in the Great East of Japan.
Nakagawa’s past works include “Mio on the Shore”, released in 2019.
In “One Day You’ll Reach the Sea”, shy and withdrawn Mana, played by Yukino Kishii, and cheerful and sociable Sumire, played by Minami Hamabe, develop an unlikely friendship.
After entering a university, they meet at a drunken party organized to welcome new members of a student club.
While Mana feels out of place and uncomfortable, Sumire is popular among the male students.
But Sumire actually hates such gatherings and sneaks out of the party with Mana. The two students form a close relationship.
One day, Sumire goes alone on a trip to the Tohoku region and is swept away by the tsunami.
The story unfolds as Mana remembers her deceased friend.
Nakagawa himself lost a friend from his school years to suicide shortly after the 2011 disaster.
“I kept wondering about the relationship between me when I was alone (by his death) and the Japanese society that changed after the disaster,” he said. “I thought it would be a good opportunity to come back to this question.”
After the disaster, a huge seawall was built in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, to protect the coast from a future tsunami.
Nakagawa chose to show the oppressive-looking structure in a cold manner in the film.
“Almost all the visible scars are gone, but I felt a different shock than what I experienced after the disaster,” the director said. “The disaster area had become a lifeless and standardized space, symbolized by the large embankment. I don’t know if that’s what disaster recovery means.