Starring: Sôta Fukushi, Shûhei Nomura, Tsubasa Honda
Director: Yasuhiro Yoshida
Running Time: 90 mins
Enoshima Prism is a Japanese film about a high school student who, after having grown distant from his childhood friends after a tragedy, manages to travel back in time to the days before that tragedy struck, and rekindle the nostalgia of the best friendship of his life.
Childhood nostalgia, a sweet seaside setting and the bond of friends and family after a tragedy. That makes Enoshima Prism sound like the perfect recipe for a pleasant and heartwarming drama. But when you realise that there’s a sci-fi element to it, with some time travel and ghosts, things start to go a little wrong.
Let’s start on the plus side, by saying that when this film is trying to be as nostalgic, intimate and sweet as possible, it works an absolute charm. The opening act, before the introduction of the time travel side of the story, is absolutely wonderful, and even though it focuses on the sad aftermath of the death of a beloved friend, the film brings together its characters in a heartfelt way befitting of its small and quaint setting.
What’s more is that there are a good few sequences throughout the movie in which the three main characters are reunited back in the past that are absolutely wonderful. In what should have been the objective of the entire movie, the moments where we see the three friends together in scenes bathed in warmth and nostalgia, are delightful, and thanks to the lead performances and calm and elegant directing in those moments, this film does shine very brightly from time to time.
The issues come when we look at the sci-fi side of the story. Apart from the fact that the time travel idea comes completely out of the blue, it’s a plot device that feels far too forced into this situation, and it’s arguable that the same objective of rekindling an old friendship could have been achieved in other, more convincing and appropriate ways.
That said, it’s always interesting to see something a little different, and I was willing to see where the film went after out first venture two years back into the past. However, given that the time travel side of the story receives so much focus throughout, and takes time away from the sweeter and more intimate side of the story, meant I began to lose faith that this film really knew what it wanted to be.
The problem is that, whilst the time travel acts as a device to reunite the three friends, what they then have to achieve, and particularly what the central character has to achieve, isn’t really fitting with the more effective emotional side to the story, signalling messy direction from Yasuhiro Yoshida, something that was a real shame to see for me.
Overall, I was disappointed by Enoshima Prism. Although starting strongly as a sweet and nostalgic drama, it squanders its opportunity to continue that throughout with an unconvincing and rather jarring sci-fi side to its plot, and despite a few bright moments throughout, it’s by no means the film that it should have been from the beginning, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.7.