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Short Film Review: Future! Future! (2023) by Kairi Manabe and Yoshihiko Yamamoto

Go to college, Kids!

A big question around science fiction has always been whether the genre is all about mindless escapism, a way of evading the dreary reality of everyday life, or a mindful way of looking at reality in order to change it. This is the question at the heart of “Future! Future!”, a sweet, endearing short film about everything scifi can bring us.

Future! Future! is screening at Short Shorts Film Festival and Asia

The story focuses on Makato, played by a delightful as a quirky high school girl and a huge fan of science and science fiction. We know that from the very start, when the camera introduces her by showing first all the posters and paraphernalia in her bedroom: a poster of “This Island Earth” (a memorable Hollywood film from the 1950s), a drawing of Marty McFly's DeLorean time machine in “Back to the Future”, an endearing doll of Einstein, etc.

Makato's whole life revolves around imagination. Her personal motto is a quote by Jules Verne, the father of science fiction: “Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real.”  Unfortunately, it turns out Makato has very bad grades in school and might not make it to college. Which could be a problem, given that she soon learns the future of humanity depends on her going to university and becoming a brilliant inventor…

This is the setup for the whimsical tale of how Makito slowly wakes up to the fact that one needs to work (hard) in life to get an education and achieve one's dreams. Every good story is centered on an emotional journey, and this one is no exception. On the way, Makito pairs up with a mysterious (and cute) time traveler from a dystopian future straight out of “The Terminator”, as Makito herself points out. The short film is full of such playful references, which makes sense given that it is both an homage and a pean to the genre.

The short is also nice science fiction on its own, boasting convincing direction and even special effects (the final shot especially). You can tell this was made by professionals who clearly drew from their own background: co-director Yoshihiko Yamamoto hails from the Hiroshima area, where the story is set, and his family, like Makito's, also owns a sento (a public bathhouse).

What is nice about “Future! Future!” is how it weaves together a coming-of-age story that tells kids to work hard in school, and a larger idea of how hard work and faith in science, and in oneself, can bring about progress and a better future for everyone. Jules Verne would have appreciated.

About the author

Mehdi Achouche

Based in Paris. My life-long passions are cinema and TV series, and I enjoy nothing more than sharing my thoughts about the latest film and TV show to grab my imagination. I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s watching Hong Kong cinema and the Zhang Yimou/Gong Li films from those decades. The Takeshi Kitano films from the same era completed my early film education. I have never been the same since then.

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