Words Bubble up Like Soda Pop – Film Review

Director: Kyohei Ishiguro

Starring: Somegorô Ichikawa, Hana Suisaki, Yuichiro Umehara and Kôichi Yamadera

Rating: 4/5

Kyohei Ishiguro makes his film directorial debut with Words Bubble up Like Soda Pop, a sweet and nostalgic look at growing up and how music can take you back to youth. Having previously directed TV shows, such as Psycho Pass and Your Lie in April, Ishiguro brings a fresh and warm approach to the coming of age genre.

Words Bubble up Like Soda Pop, which is being distributed worldwide by Netflix, captures the magic of summer and coming of age. The story is about two teenagers who struggle to communicate. Cherry wears headphones all the time so people won’t speak to him and expresses himself on social media by writing haiku about the world around him. Smile, worries that people will mock her for having buckteeth and braces, and wears a mask at all times, and streams her life online through the same social media platform.

Through a chance encounter, the two are bumped into each other and end up dropping and picking up the wrong phones. They then start to connect and fall for each other. There is an older man, who spends his time searching the mall for a lost vinyl record. Cherry and Smile work together to uncover the mystery of the record.

Words Bubble up Like Soda Pop is a beautiful, relaxing and engaging film. It’s very simple in its premise, and there isn’t really any conflict to move the plot along. Instead the pace is slow, but never boring or unengaging, it gives you more time to appreciate the beautiful animation and characters. In an almost Studio Ghibli fashion, this film captures summer in the lives of people on the edge of adulthood and shows them finding someone to connect with.

There is a melancholic tone throughout, with the mirroring of Cherry and Smile’s blossoming relationship with the old man who they pledge to help. He expresses himself through the record shop that he owns, but is growing to old to manage it, and is going to have to close down. It’s a truly heart-warming and emotional story. The two teenagers at first don’t understand the significance of the record and what hearing it once more would mean to him.

Even for an animated film, every colour is bright and vivid. Each colour pops off the screen, making you feel the heat from summer. Its use of bright colour brings out a unique feel and striking visuals. In the background are Cherry’s haikus, which his friend has spray painted over walls and signs across the town. The music, especially from the fabled vinyl, is well used and the soundtrack is something that is going to be on repeat for a while after watching the film.

Bubble up Like Soda Pop is a very slow story with gripping and engaging characters. At first it may feel that this is an ensemble comedy with a group of teenagers spending too much time at the mall, but as the story unfolds it reveals a captivating tale of first love, growing up and feeling like outcasts. It may be these that have been explored many times before, but they are presented masterfully here.   

About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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