The seishun eiga or “youth film” is one Japanese genre that doesn’t travel well abroad. With only a few exceptions, these films assume a familiarity with the insular world of the Japanese high school (or, once in a while, junior high school) that outlanders are unlikely to possess. They also follow certain conventions, such as starry-eyed heroines with unrequited crushes on indifferent or abusive guys, that don’t translate smoothly to London or Los Angeles.

Even so, seishun eiga offer the sort of clear window into Japan’s national culture, society and psyche that other, more internationally popular, genres don’t. Most Japanese survived high school; relatively few joined yakuza gangs.

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