Comedian W.C. Fields famously opined, “Never work with children or animals.” The reason: Kids and kitties (or doggies, for that matter) can upstage even the best adult performer.

As Amiko, the preteen protagonist of Yusuke Morii’s eponymous first feature, newcomer Kana Osawa effortlessly dominates any scene she’s in with a fearless, natural presence. Accomplished veterans Arata Iura and Machiko Ono, who play her parents, don’t stand a chance against her. One comparison is Yuya Yagira in his breakout role as an abandoned child in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s 2004 masterpiece, “Nobody Knows.” Osawa and Yagira share the same piercing look, the same sense of being ferally apart from the general run of humanity.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.