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In Japan, people who fall off the conventional life path of school, job and marriage have their own acronym: NEET, which stands for not in education, employment or training. In addition to this moniker, they may be labeled as hikikomori (social recluses).

The overlap between the two groups is not total, though, as Takashi Komatsu shows with uncommon insight in his debut feature, “Cat and Salt, or Sugar.” Born in 1981 and a once-promising student filmmaker who was a NEET himself, Komatsu knows what he’s talking about. The director has said in interviews that his protagonist, the bright and eccentric Ichiro (Kentaro Tamura), is his alter ego.

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