Relive the Summer Vacation with “Drifting Home”: An Animated Danchi Adventure Brimming with Excitement


※This article is an English translation of the article here.
The persisting summer heat extends into September, and the remnants of summer still linger. However, for many individuals, the onset of the new school term may already evoke a sense of longing for their summer vacation or a reminiscence of the melancholy associated with its conclusion.
“Drifting Home,” an animated film set for a nationwide release on September 16, with simultaneous availability on Netflix, presents an optimal cinematic venture for individuals missing summer vacation.”
This fantasy film revolves around a boy and a girl in the 6th grade of elementary school who venture into an apartment complex(“Danchi” in Japanese) during their summer vacation, only to become entangled in a mysterious phenomenon. The narrative takes the audience on an unexpected journey of exploration through the suburbs of modern Japan, evoking childhood memories and providing an opportunity to relish an exhilarating adventure.

Exciting drifting life just for children

During a summer vacation, Kosuke, a sixth-grade elementary school boy, observes his classmate and childhood friend, Natsume, clandestinely entering an apartment complex named “Obake Danchi,” which is slated for demolition. Natsume feels sorrowful about the imminent destruction of the apartment complex where she spent time with Kosuke and his grandfather.

Subsequently, Kosuke and his companions pursue Natsume into the apartment complex. Unexpectedly, they become entangled in an enigmatic phenomenon, and to their astonishment, Obake Danchi is engulfed by the vast blue sea.
Within this setting, they encounter a mysterious boy named “Noppo,” prompting Kosuke and his friends to collaborate in order to navigate the challenges of their drifting existence.
This narrative constitutes an adventure tale reminiscent of “Two Years’ Vacation.” It resonates with those who possess memories of solitary exploration with their children during summer vacations and those who can empathize with the allure of trespassing into abandoned buildings like an apartment complex on the brink of demolition. The work evokes such childhood memories, offering a depiction of the struggles faced by child drifters in the absence of adults, yet also highlighting the absence of nagging and the film’s overall sense of excitement akin to a camping trip.
Nonetheless, the grandeur of the ocean can at times turn hostile, subjecting one to storms and uncertainties. The life of drifting at sea is not solely thrilling but also replete with apprehensions. Given the uncertainty surrounding the direction of drift, viewers can relish the exhilaration of being adrift alongside characters.

Nostalgia for “Danchi” symbolizing postwar Japan

The salient feature of this film lies in its backdrop, which centers around an apartment complex. As viewers engage with the movie, they will discern the captivating allure of these architectural structures.
The film’s director, Hiroyasu Ishida, himself exhibits a profound fondness for apartment complexes and even moved into one several years ago. The inception of the film was sparked by the notion that it would be intriguing to envision a building akin to MUJI, characterized by its simplicity and minimized superfluousness, embarking on a voyage across the sea (reference “teteblog,”).
Apartment complexes can be regarded as edifices emblematic of the bygone era of high economic growth. During the Showa period (1926-1989), a considerable influx of individuals aspiring to attain middle-class status migrated from rural regions to urban centers, making apartment complexes their dwelling of choice.
However, as economic growth waned and the nation entered a period of economic recession in the Heisei era, a growing number of apartment complexes fell into disuse, becoming desolate ghost towns, and many were demolished. Nevertheless, in recent times, some have undergone renovation to cater to the lifestyle preferences of young people. Ishida noted that these buildings, once symbolic of the country’s resurgence from the ashes of wartime devastation, now stand as testaments of neglect and destruction. Nonetheless, their capacity to rejuvenate and endure captivated him (reference the official website of the film “Drifting Home“).
Danchi, or apartment complexes, embody a rich tapestry of modern Japanese history. Perhaps due to its setting in such a locale, the film exudes a profoundly evocative sense of nostalgia. The artwork and backgrounds vividly portray the accumulation of the experiences of those who resided in the apartment complex, and as the memories of the grandfather, who holds the key to the narrative, are unveiled, they evoke poignant emotions in the viewers.

Hiroyasu Ishida, a burgeoning and promising figure in the realm of Japanese animation

Ishida”s previous film “Penguin Highway” finds its origins in a novel penned by Tomihiko Morimi; nonetheless, the film itself is an original creation spearheaded by Ishida. Throughout his career, Ishida has consistently endeavored to infuse his films with the essence of a “child’s heart.” In his previous work, he skillfully portrayed a young boy’s fascination with science and his enthrallment with the marvels of the world, interwoven with his innocent longing for an older woman. Similarly, in this film, he once again adeptly captures the spirit of adventure and camaraderie shared by boys and girls in a dynamic and engaging manner.
Nevertheless, it is crucial to emphasize that this film does not exclusively cater to children. Just as exceptional animated works directed by Hayao Miyazaki and the classic “Doraemon” films resonate with audiences of all ages, Ishida’s productions possess the rare quality of captivating both adults and children alike.
The film effectively transports adults back to the realms of their childhood, skillfully evoking a sense of nostalgia while keeping them at the edge of their seats. For children grappling with post-summer vacation blues, this cinematic experience is certain to reignite the essence of summertime joy. Undoubtedly, “Drifting Home” stands as a compelling must-see film this autumn.
Animated Feature Film Drifting Home
9.16(Fri.) Netflix Worldwide Exclusive Distribution & Nationwide Roadshow in Japan
Cast: Mutsumi Tamura, Asami Seto Ayumu Murase, Daiki Yamashita, Yumiko Kobayashi, Inori Minase, Kana Hanazawa, Bin Shimada, Nana Mizuki
Director: Hiroyasu Ishida
Screenplay: Hayashi Mori / Hiroyasu Ishida
Music: Umitaro Abe
Theme song/Insert song: Zutomayo
Planning: Twin Engine
Production: Studio Colorido
Distributor: Twin Engine / Giggly Box
©Colorido Twin Engine Partners