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High schools are mercilessly hierarchical societies. At mine in rural Pennsylvania varsity basketball players occupied the summit. (Football players didn’t because we didn’t have a football team.) For a mere honor student to absent-mindedly sit in the “reserved” seat of one of these titans in the lunch room was to invite an unceremonious dump to the floor by its smirking 6’5″ possessor. Resistance was futile.

The same is true, in spades, in the high school of Daihachi Yoshida’s engagingly off-kilter, if finally poignant, “Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo (The Kirishima Thing).” Based on a novel author Ryo Asai wrote while still a student at Waseda University, the film begins with the sudden, unexplained decision of a star volleyball player, Kirishima, to quit the team.

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