When people think of Japan, most think of its popular culture, neon signs and the busy streets of Tokyo. But when one leaves the busy hustle and bustle of Japan’s modernised capital, Japan’s mountainous countryside reveals a vastly different world which on many fronts is the total opposite of what the city life has to offer. Wood Job! is a film that explores this world through the eyes of a down on his luck city boy, who ends up working at a forestry devision deep in the Japanese mountains. And we are there with him to enjoy as he experiences a whole different kind of hustle and bustle.
Yuki (played by Shota Sometani from the Parasyte series) could use a bit more luck in his life. He failed the university entry exam and gets dumped by his girlfriend on the same day. He decides to get drunk with friends to forget his sorrow and stumbles upon a pamflet. The pamflet is from the Japanese Forestry devision, which features a beautiful girl (Masami Nagasawa). Intrigued by her beautiful smile, he decides to go for it and before he knows it he finds himself in the middle of nowhere deep in the heart of the countryside, training to become a woodsman. It doesn’t suit him at all, and it doesn’t help that he is teamed up with a tough, short tempered superior named Yoki (played by Hideaki Ito). But slowly, and certainly, he starts to fall in love with this new way of living.
Wood Job! is a warm story about life in the Japanese countryside, the power of its lush nature, and most of all, finding one’s self. Yuki is lost in life and is confused with what he wants, a very relatable topic to many. The film strongest point is definitely that it has a lot of energy and releases this on its audience through different elements. First of all, its characters. Next to the ignorant and naive Yuki, woodsman Yoki bursts of the screen with his energetic character. Hideaki Ito (who we know from Lesson of Evil) plays him as a tough guy, but also throws in a softer side. Masami Nagasawa is Naoki, the girl that motivates Yuki to come to woods, is also a welcoming part of a fun cast with her performance as a strong country girl.
Exploring Japanese traditional culture as well as exposing the viewer to beautiful visuals of nature, the story is light and has a very pleasant vibe. It isn’t short of humorous situations and keeps the viewer’s attention from start to finish. If you are a practiced movie goer the story is kind of straight forward and you can basically guess what is going to happen, but this of course doesn’t spoil the fun for one bit. The film packs quite a lot of humorous surprises and director Shinobu Yaguchi paces his film well so that it keeps flowing pleasantly forward.
Wood Job! does a very good job indeed (sorry, had to say it), and is an entertaining addition to contemporary Japanese cinema. Just sit back, put your feet up and let yourself go with the flow of the woodsman lifestyle, deep in the Japanese mountains. As you can see in the picture at the top of the page, thumbs up with a big smile indeed!