Short Movie Time: Tokyo Girl [PFF2019]


For this Short Movie Time, we want to present Nebiro Hashimoto’s Tokyo Girl (2019) the winner of the Cinema Fan Award (Pia-Nist Prize) at last year’s Pia Film Festival.

Nebiro Hashimoto, born in 1994, only learned the potential of filmic expression at university, a revelation that led him to start making films as well as entering the TOKYO VISUAL ARTS college after graduating.

PFF Pia Film Festival


Hashimoto’s short narrative Tokyo Girl is driven by speech, driven by a fast concatenation of signifiers, driven by a monologue delivered by a girl (Hiragi Mako) with haste to the spectator. The girl’s raw voice, as emitted from her raw self, explicitly addressed to the spectator, is in fact nothing other than an expression of subjectivity.

But the girl’s monologue is not just an expression of subjectivity, it is an expression of a troubled subjectivity that, with much clarity, touches upon the problematic dimension of contemporary Japanese society. While she likens her existence to a pebble in a shoe – her existence an impure instance, a disturbing existence that doesn’t belong and disturbs others, such comparison only reveals how problematic her coming-into-being in contemporary society has been.


If she, in her critical analysis of certain facets Japanese society, touches upon things like a copy-and-paste style of living and the intimate but impersonal relation people have with their phones, it is because these aspects have marked, directly or indirectly, her subjectivity. Eventually – and not surprisingly – she also reveals how the dimension of sexuality, ever in play between men and women, has marked her, how men, according to her experience, only see her as an object-to-be-sexually-enjoyed and not as a subject-to-be-loved.

The alienation in modern society – the living with no reason – our girl touches upon, is an alienation born from the difficulty to establish meaningful social bonds with each other, from the difficulty for subjects to connect with each other at the level of their subjectivity. It is not difficult to see that the alienation from others our girl feels and the self-centeredness ‘jibunkatte’ she apologizes for are related. These aspect are, in fact, both caused by the high-technological neo-liberal modern society.


Hashimoto’s narrative also touches upon the psychoanalytical idea that our ego is fragmentary and constantly changes – memories being overwritten, rewritten, and deleted, but our subjective logic remains the same. Our girl’s subjective logic is, in fact, driven by one desire: the desire to be loved.

That the pace of the cinematographical composition is frantic, in accordance with the haste of speech should not surprise anyone. But it is not only the pace of the narrative, e.g. the quick concatenation of shots, that is frantic, the cinematographical movement within Hashimoto’s composition is frenetic as well. Rather than aiming to tell a narrative with images, Hashimoto’s energetic and dynamic concatenation of shots aims to emit ephemeral impressions of the life of our Tokyo girl.

But, in our opinion, the effect of the cinematography goes further. The frantic composition of impressions does not only evoke the frantic pace of modernity, it also visually evokes how, in accordance with this frantic pace, the ego as personal set-up is subjected to constant change. Her voice, for that matter, also shows how she is subjected to modernity, but subtly points to the fact that underlying the faced-paced alteration lies an unchanged subjective structure.


Another element worth mentioning concerns the integration of on-screen text in the wild cinematographic mix. Within the frantic maelstrom of visual impressions, this on-screen text has no other function than to emphasize certain fragments of the girls’ monologue, e.g. ‘This is what this is’, ‘So I apologize for that’, … etc..

Nebiro Hashimoto’s Tokyo Girl is something special. Only 8 minutes in duration, Hashimoto’s narrative, an urgently delivered monologue supported by a frantic composed concatenation of fragmentary impressions, offers a more clear analysis of the problems subjects have to cope with within contemporary society than most feature-length movies do in there entire run-time. While Tokyo Girl is but a short-movie, Nebiro Hashimoto’s Tokyo Girl has convinced us of his talent. In short, a director to keep one’s eye on.


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