In order to escape her oppressive home life and stop working as a ghost writer, Yuma, a naive paraplegic comic book artist begins to illustrate for an erotic manga, but is told by the sympathetic editor to come back once she has some actual sexual experience. Yuma’ s first encounter with a male prostitute at a “Love Hotel” ends in disaster, but it is there that she meets Mai, a sex worker specializing in caring for the handicapped. And so begins Yuma’s unexpected journey of self-discovery.
Not much needs to be written about director HIKARI’s feature film debut that hasn’t already been proven by the dozens of festival berths and awards it has been accumulating in addition to being picked up by Netflix for distribution.
The result of almost three and a half years of research and interviews, 37 Seconds presents an honest, fresh look at a person with a disability that challenges the audiences’ preconceptions and perhaps even prejudices.
Beating out a hundred hopefuls in open auditions held across Japan, lead actress Kayama Mei is a certified social worker bound to a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy. She is the very core to the story’s authenticity while also embodying the movie’s theme that “disability is a state of mind”. Affirming HIKARI’s choice of the first-time actor, the 2021 Japan Movie Critics Award bestowed on Kayama their Best New Actress award. She also picked up the Sponichi Grand Prize New Talent Award at the 2020 Mainichi Film Awards.
Watch 37 Seconds on Netflix here: