- Original title
- Japanese title
- Running time
- 94 minutes
- 16 February 2013
by Jasper Sharp
This slight but polished coming-of-age drama has one of those slightly uncomfortable "only in Japan" scenarios, focusing on the first teetering steps into the outer limits of cyber sex by two youthful protagonists separated by the gulf of adolescence.
Scripted by prodigious TV screenwriter Mika Omori, Install is an adaptation from the novel of the same name by Risa Wataya, which earned its author the distinction of being the youngest ever recipient of the Bungei Prize for literature at the age of 17. Featuring frankly sexual discussions between its youthful protagonists, though never prurient or explicit, its unaffectedly innocent approach to the subject, as with Shin Togashi’s Gomen (2002), would probably raise more than a few eyebrows from overseas viewers.
Seventeen-year-old high school girl Asako (Ueto from Ryuhei Kitamura’s Azumi), feeling her individuality being crushed by the dull daily grind of her studies, takes to skipping class, sealing herself in her bedroom after her mother goes to work and lying spread-eagled on the floor staring at the ceiling. An attempt to rid herself of all material possessions brings her into contact with Kazuyoshi (Kamiki), a sexually precocious 10-year-old living in the same building as her. Kazuyoshi takes charge of Asako’s computer, and starts lurking around sex chatrooms where he meets a young bored housewife Miyabi who works in fuzoku hostess clubs while her husband is at work. With Asako at a loose end, Kazuyoshi drafts her in to help him set up paid dates for Miyabi, leaving her hidden in his closet sitting in front of the screen and talking dirty to anonymous strangers while he attends elementary school. Internet sex-talk indeed proves a lucrative business for all parties concerned, but in the world of the internet no one is really who they seem, and with neither of them having ever "done it", Asako soon finds herself needing more than just a vivid imagination to maintain the pretence.
With its gracefully gliding cameras and bright vibrant colours, the story cracks off at a bouncy energetic pace within a squeaky clean format honed to perfection by TV director Kataoka, making his feature debut. Though pitched at the teen market, Install rises above the level of a diverting curiosity and turns out to be a pretty fun ride that doesn’t outstay its welcome, and has some interesting things to say about role-playing and the socialisation / sexualisation of youngsters in the early years of the twenty-first century.