As with many Ichikawa films, “Zawa Zawa Shimokitazawa” begins as a group portrait but coalesces around turning points in the lives of its principals. One is Yuki (Tomoko Kitagawa), a 20-year-old waitress in a boho cafe near the station. Another is the cafe manager, Kyushiro (Yoshio Harada), who leads a troupe of actors that has been performing regularly at a local theater for more than a decade. The cafe mama, Yoko (Lily), is also a longtime Shimokitazawa resident, whose relationship with Kyushiro has remained firmly on the level of friendship.
Though something of a throwback — she exudes a purity more reminiscent of an Ozu heroine than a Shibuya girl — Yuki faces a very New Millennial dilemma. She is, she feels, running down an endless track, while her relationship with her boyfriend, Tatsuya (Masayoshi Ozawa), is on the cusp of a change — but of what kind she cannot clearly say.
Meanwhile, Tatsuya drifts in and out of a job with a publishing company, takes photos, plays the bongos and hangs out with his slacker friends. He also becomes involved in a desultory affair with a woman who works in a Shimokitazawa secondhand shop — and offers him what Yuki cannot.
In thrashing out her various issues, Yuki draws comfort from her aunt (Ingrid Fujiko Hemming), a gravel-voiced dowager who plays a soulful classical piano and has survived life’s battles with her salty sense of humor intact. Yuki is also inspired by Kyushiro’s performance in a chanbara drama that he’s staged dozens of times, but still injects with sparks of passion. He may think he’s just going through the motions, but he still yearns for something more. (He talks, without conviction, of quitting show business and retiring to Okinawa.)
Yuki, too yearns for something more. By the end of the film, she decides to find it and move on. —The Japan Times
Jun Ichikawa (市川 準 Ichikawa Jun?, 25 November 1948 – 19 September 2008) was a Japanese film director and screenwriter. He was first an award-winning director of television commercials before adding filmmaking to his creative activities.His most famous film outside of Japan was Tony Takitani, an adaptation of a short story by Haruki Murakami. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage after suddenly collapsing at a restaurant, shortly before his latest film, Buy a Suit, was to premier at the Tokyo International Film Festival. —Wikipedia