One Day, You Will Reach the Sea
やがて海へと届く (Yagate Umi e to Todoku)
Japan, 2022, 126’, Japanese
Directed by: Nakagawa Ryutaro
Screenplay: Nakagawa Ryutaro, Umehara Eiji
Photography (color): Ouchi Tai
Editing: Tamaki Genta
Art Direction: Matsunaga Keiko
Music: Kitahara Kyoko
Producers: Ogawa Shinji, Ito Sei
Executive Producers: Wada Shoji, Kobayashi Satoshi
Cast: Kishii Yukino, Hamabe Minami, Sugino Yosuke, Nakazaki Haya, Tsuruta Mayu
Date of First Release in Territory: April 1st, 2022
The earthquake and tsunami that struck northern Japan on March 11, 2011 caused nearly 20,000 deaths and left nearly 2,500 missing, meaning their bodies have never been recovered despite months and years of searching. One of those missing victims plays a central role in Nakagawa Ryutaro’s One Day, You Will Reach the Sea, a drama of female friendship that he also scripted.
The film, however, is slow to reveal its connection with the disaster, now eleven years in the past. Based on a novel by Ayase Maru, who herself was a victim, if one who survived, the film’s story begins three years after Sumire (Hamabe Minami), an outgoing, if enigmatic, woman, disappeared on the day of the tsunami, while traveling on the Tohoku coast.
Since then, her introverted, fiercely dedicated best friend Mana (Kishii Yukino) has kept her memory alive, while refusing to move on. But when Sumire’s ex-boyfriend, Atsushi (Sugino Yosuke), cleans out the apartment he and Sumire once shared, Mana is forced, however reluctantly, to confront the fact of change. Then Atsushi gives her the camcorder that Sumire used to make a kind of video diary, recording scenes from her life that might give Mana a clearer look at her friend’s secret self. A door to the past has opened – but is Mana ready to walk through it?
Before answering this and other questions about Mana and Sumire, the film flashes back to the day the two women first met as college freshmen. At a recruiting event for the school clubs, Mana is overwhelmed by the competition for her attention, when the more socially adept Sumire steps in to serve as buffer and guide. They soon become fast friends, and end up living together, though their relationship never reaches a more intimate, physical stage.
Even so, it sustains and nourishes Mana in ways that nothing else ever has, so when, after a year, Sumire decides to move out, she is baffled and hurt. And not long after, when Sumire goes missing, Mana is devastated – and time stops.
It only really starts again when, with Atsushi at her side, she makes a pilgrimage to the seaside town where Sumire was last seen. There she meets townspeople who lost loved ones in the tsunami and describe their own feelings and experiences for an interviewer. Following that encounter, Mana finally has an experience of mystical reunion and revelation – and the beginnings of acceptance, if not the end of mourning.
Her journey unfolds in settings, such as beaches once inundated by the giant tsunami wave, that the millions of Japanese still vividly recall, but for the outside world have faded in memory. Still, in Nakagawa’s understated, but eloquent recounting, it becomes lyrically spiritual and humanly relatable. Disasters strike randomly; loss, universally.
Nakagawa Ryutaro was born in Kawasaki in 1990. While at Keio University, he made a short, the 2012 Calling, that won a best cinematography prize at the Boston International Film Festival. In 2014 Nakagawa’s August in Tokyo screened in the Japanese Cinema Splash section of the Tokyo International Film Festival. He returned to the festival the next year with Tokyo Sunrise. In 2017 his drama Summer Blooms screened at the 39th Moscow International Film Festival, where it won the FIPRESCI Award. Nakagawa returned to Moscow in 2019 with Mio on the Shore. One Day, You Will Reach the Sea was released in Japan on April 1 of this year.
2012 – Calling
2012 – Tale of a Raindrop
2014 – Plastic Love Story
2014 – August in Tokyo
2015 – Tokyo Sunrise
2017 – Summer Blooms
2019 – Mio on the Shore
2019 – Silent Rain
2020 – Kamata Prelude
2022 – One Day, You Will Reach the Sea