Season of the Sun

Season of the Sun ★★★½

In the 1950s world wide post-war economic “miracles” and the democratization of consumerism and the leisure class lead to entrenching the “teenager” as an actual thing. Quickly following that, mainstream global film culture starting exploring themes relating to juvenile delinquency. While Hollywood released rather “reputable” JD material (the cheapo exploitation fare would come later) like The Wild One, Rebel Without a Cause and The Blackboard Jungle, other jurisdictions - like Japan with the “taiyozoku/sun tribe” films - had their own unique twists. 1956 was the peak year in Japan for the distinct but fleeting sun tribe sub-genre, with (Criterion Collection blessed) Crazed Fruit likely being the most famed example in the West. Shintaro Ishihara the author of the source novel of this film (and Kon Ichikawa’s 1956 like minded film Punishment Room) seems to be the patron saint of this material that is populated by gallivanting live for today hedonists chock full of indifference and toxic masculinity, all of which signalled the nihilism that would be found in so many new wave films to come. It seems to me that the notable films that followed touching on the boredom and disillusionment of youth (with vandalism! pregnancy! abortion!, and - particularly shocking to Japanese film audiences - kissing!) weren’t really living in this sub-genre but commenting on/deconstructing it - like Nagisa Oshima’s Cruel Story of Youth or the works of Koreyoshi Kurahara. In this way, like with French cinema’s brief foray into the cinéma du look in the 1980s, I wonder if there are any more than a small hand full of films that actually qualify. In any event, this one is a pretty compelling version.