Tokyo, 1947. Two years after the end of WWII, a US-occupied Japan is slowly recovering from the defeat and devastation of war. Racial tensions and wartime memories are still strong, unemployment is high, and the future of Japan is up in the air. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are in Japan to take part in the nation's rebuilding process, and with them came military clubs, army base towns, soda, chocolate bars, and a myriad of changes. Enter the world of Sakamoto Junji's 2004 film Out of This World
(a.k.a. Kono Yo no Soto E: Club Shinchugun
Based on a real story, Out of This World captures a period of great change in Japan through the lens of a quintessentially American music form - jazz. The film follows a Japanese jazz band as they try to make a living playing in military clubs, and deal with the discrimination, rivalries, memories, and inner demons that pain them everyday. Out of This World brings together two of Japan's top young actors, Odagiri Joe (Yureru) and Hagiwara Masato (Rikidozan, Caf Lumiere), alongside renowned Scottish actor/director Peter Mullan (Trainspotting) and American actor Shea Whigham (Tigerland). Other members of the all-star cast include Matsuoka Shunsuke (The Youth of Kamiya Etsuko), Murakami Jun (Yokubo), Maki Kuroudo (Brother), veteran Aikawa Sho (Dead or Alive), and singer/actress Maeda Aki (Battle Royale). A crucial part of the film, the music is in the hands of Tachikawa Naoki, who previously served as music director for Zhang Yimou's Raise the Red Lantern and Hou Hsiao Hsien's City of Sadness.
Hirooka Kentaro (Hagiwara Masoto) is a headstrong saxophonist who used to play in an army band. Ikeshima Shozo (Odagiri Joe) is an amateur drummer trying to forget what he saw during the Nagasaki atomic bombing; he doesn't know how to play the drums yet, but he'll learn fast. Rounding out the ragtag imprompto group are bassist Hirayama Ichiro (Matsuoka Shunsuke), pianist Ono Akira (Murakami Jun), and trumpeter Asakawa Hiroyuki (Mitch). Together, they form jazz band Lucky Strikers, playing to American soldiers at the Enlisted Men's Club managed by sergeant Jim (Peter Mullan). Not all the soldiers are receptive to the band, however, particularly Whigham (Russell Reade), a bitter GI and saxophonist who lost his brother to the war.