Hasegawa Yokna, director of the engagingly artistic take on the dystopian future, Dual City, shot Illuminations in 2014 which, according to the filmmaker’s official site, is the first chapter of the “Japanese Year Zero Trilogy”–Dual City being the second. Though Dual City captured the lion’s share of international attention and overshadowing its series predecessor, interest is training toward Illuminations as its quite intriguing story perhaps was at the vanguard of a steadily growing number of narratives and filmmakers concerned with Japan’s place in the world as a “peaceful nation.”
In 2020 Japan is divided into North and South. Northern Japan became the area of conflict. Although in Southern Japan they still preserve peace, it is slowly changing into a threatening situation day by day.
18-year-old Southerner Yousuke, who lost his childhood friend Kurata as a deserter to the Northern War, spends his days in emptiness. One day he meets Kikuchi in a game center and gets to know the drug ‘Illuminations’, which has the effect of time travel and is popular among kids.Kikuchi invites him to a drug party where they meet dealer and idealist Teru and Miki, the girl who likes drawing.
The camera follows them through the nights in the scenery and sounds of Tokyo in 2014.
Illuminations is a blurring of fiction and documentary storytelling through a mixture experimental and literary styles as one might expect from the visual artist-come-director. According to Hasegawa:
“[…] this film is a thought experiment with fictional ideas, ‘not showing these visually but using words for the viewers imagination’. There’s no war scene, nor sci-fi gadget, however the film is set in a future, where there’s a war around kids who escape through time travel. I wanted to make a film with an ambiguous border between reality and fiction, that touches people’s feelings deeply beyond the visual experience.”
This trailer shows just how well Hasegawa has captured her intention.