Boy Sprouted (2021)

One day, Sei-Chen (Seitaro Hara) gets a strange reaction on the breakfast prepared by his mom (Kanako Higashi). He seems to be upset by the very look at the sliced tomato and he tosses it on the floor before running out of the house. From that moment on the boy will avoid eating tomatoes with such passion, that his whole class will become aware of it and as children do – they’ ll turn Sei-Chen’s small weakness into a tool for bullying.

The eerie atmosphere in Yuko Watanabe’s genre short Boy Sprouted is generated through children’s completly silent interacting composed of gestures and meaningful gazes. Seitaro Hara’s performance is the cornerstone of the movie, with his mysterious glare and stubborness of a child who can’t be convinced to do something he doesn’t feel like. This could be your average story about kids’ refusal to eat healthy food because they’d prefer having something tastier, but this is thankfully not that kind of movie. Sei-Chen is literally sprouting, but he will keep this secret to himself.

The parent-child relationship is cleverly used to cement the overall uncanny mood, and the lens of Yoshio Kitagawa (behind Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s ‘Intimacy’ and ‘Happy Hour’) plays with the redness of a fruit that conquers every single meal in the family’s kitchen. It is an overall succesfull use of horror tropes that makes Boy Sprouted a pleasurable watch, wonderfully accompanied by the original score composed by an author whose name unfortunately isn’t listed in the film’s credits.

This is a film that speaks to a broad audience because its interstingly plotted story takes the inspiration from real life, packs it in a very believable relationship between a boy and his mother, and at the same time it mocks some of the things we are told as children by our parents for whatever crazy reason (If you eat the seeds from a piece of fruit, a tree will grow in your tummy).

Courtesy of Osaka Asian Film Festival

Original title: 少年、なにかが発芽する
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Runtime: 26′
Year: 2021
Production: Trixta
Producer: Ryohei Tsutsui
Directed by: Yuko Watanabe
Screenplay: A.I. Furukoto
Director of Photography: Yoshio Kitagawa
Gaffer: Keijiro Akiyama
Gaffer Assistants: Risa Hiraya, Kyoko Arimasa, Yudai Komada
Sound Recordist/ Sound Mixer/ Sound Effects: Naoki Jono
Wardrobe: Miyuki Miyabe
Art Director: Hinako Kasuga
Propmaker: Ikue Kubota, ZHao Xinzhi
Makeup & Hair: Shinji Hashimoto
Special Makeup: Yoshio Komatsu, Hitoshi Nakamura
Extra casting: Kaoru Endo
Assistant Director/ Line Producer: Sho Suzaki
Editor: Shotaro Nakayama
Colour Grading: Ryota Kobayashi
Cast: Seitaro Hara, Kanako Higahsi, Kenji Iwaya, Hiro Yamagushi, Kazuki Suzuki, KOnatsu Nakazato, Erina Takagi, Kosei Takano, Rito Kawamura, Serene Suzuki, Kuto Komatsuzaki
Supported by: Housen Cultural Foundation
Cooperation with: Graduate School of Film and New Media, Tokyo University of the Arts