Hula Girls (フラガール).


So if you’re a Netflix member most of you know that they have an area at the bottom of their webpage that says “Popular Titles for Hawaii” or something to that effect…in any case….”Hula Girls” popped up on mine. What caught my eye however, was that it’s not a locally produced movie rather a Japanese movie.  So I figured what the heck, I clicked the “add to queue” button since the reviews were giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after watching it, I…and I’m sure many of you who go so far as to watch this movie will be pleasantly surprised.  Here’s the trailer with subtitles for native English speakers.

The movie is loosely based of particular events that really happened back in the 1960’s in the northern coal mining town of Iwaki, Japan.  The mining town was facing large mass layoffs due to the shift in primary energy consumption from coal to oil.  In order to save the town, the company responsible for the mines plans to capitalize on the abundance of nearby hot springs to create a, “Hawaiian Center” spa resort to replace jobs and keep the town running.

The story follows a brave group of girls composed of daughters to coal mine worker families.  Through the use of hula, they power their way through adversity and hostility from the town’s disgruntled coal mine workers who still feel slighted by the coal mine company for leaving them “out in the cold” after over 30 years of the town’s loyal services.  The Joban Hawaiian Center, now known as Spa Resort Hawaiiansstill stands today in the city of Iwaki (Fukushima prefecture).  The cast is star-studded with the likes of Yu Aoi, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Etsushi Toyokawa, Sumiko Fuji, Ittoku Kishibe and music by local Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro.

This is a great movie and it will really pull on your heart strings.  Nominated for a total of 12 awards at the 2007 Japan Academy Awards, Hula girls went on to win five major awards, including best film, best director, best screenplay, best supporting actress for Yu Aoi, and most popular film.  It also won two major awards at the 80th Kinema Junpo awards (best film and best supporting actress Yu Aoi).  Since its release in Japan, the film has been shown across theaters and film festivals worldwide…check out Hula Girls today….and for you fellas who need that added incentive to watch a “emo” film….Yu Aoi just happens to be easy on the eyes 😉


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