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The seishun eiga (youth movie) is an important, long-established genre in Japanese films with no exact parallel in the West. The difference is not the theme as such — films about teenagers are hardly rare in Hollywood — but rather their numbers and angle of approach. The Japanese industry produces dozens of these films annually and even the ones that are not frankly nostalgic typically treat the high school years as a special time of life never to be repeated or, in many cases, equaled.

For one thing, the characters live with the sort of purity and freedom that often vanishes in adulthood, with its accommodations and strictures. “I peaked in high school” would be an admission of defeat for an American, but in the seishun eiga it’s a often a baseline assumption, with “peak” defined in emotional rather than achievement/ status terms — that is, experiencing first love rather than winning the big game.

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