Swing Girls

A ragtag group of misfit girls in a summer remedial math class accidentally give food poisoning to the entire brass band club when they deliver their lunches. The sole survivor, a boy named Nakamura, demands that they take over for the band in time to play for an upcoming baseball game. The gals all pick their instruments, and Nakamura puts them through their rigorous training. The regular brass band recovers just in time for the game, but by then the gals all have picked up the Jazz bug, and decide to keep their little band together and try out for a Winter competition. They recruit a conductor in the form of their math teacher Ozawa (played by the great Takenaka Naoto, who should and does appear in every single film in this genre), and hijinks ensue. (Amazon.com)
Year Released
Running Time
105 minutes
Date Released
Sep. 11, 2004
Average: 4 (1 vote)


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Swing Girls

Field of Interest/Specialty: Japanese
Posted On: 01/07/2016

Swing Girls-Film Review
Isabel Espino de Valdivia
Japanese and Spanish
Grades: 9-12
Pittsburgh Allderdice High School
Swing Girls is a charming, inspirational and a great movie for high school students. The 2004 film, directed by Yaguchi Shibuno (Waterboys), tells the story of a group of high school students, four girls and one boy, and their struggle to form a jazz band. In the process these students conquer their shortcomings, overcome challenges, and find their rhythm in jazz.
The story starts on a one hot summer day when a group of girls taking a remedial math class figured out a way to escape from their boring classes to deliver “obento (lunch)” boxes to the band team at the baseball game, however they fell asleep and missed the train. Under the heat, the obento boxes got spoiled and all the band members ended up in the hospital. Only one boy, Nakamura, did not get sick because the girls ate his lunch box in the train. Nakamura, then, made the girls take responsibility and decided to form a swing band to perform at the following game. The lazy girls did not know how to play any instruments and through intense physical training and perseveration, they are able to learn. But then the band members recovered and returned to play with the band. The girls disappointed at this turn of events decided to take a part time job to buy instruments to continue pursuing their dreams to form a swing jazz band.
As a Japanese teacher, “Swing Girls” provides a lot of authentic materials for the Japanese language class. For example, I can select different video clips to demonstrate the use of the local dialect, the Yamagata ben. Yamagata ben has a special intonation, some different vocabulary and ending particles and the film provides a natural setting for the students to get familiar with the dialect in real life conversations.
In addition, the movie portraits some important aspects of Japanese society, such as team work for the achievement of a common goal, Japanese cultural perspectives on friendship, physical training to learn to play instruments and other unusual training practices uncommon in the Western world. Other aspects of Japanese culture products that can be observed in the film are, for example, school grounds, uniforms, remedial and summer classes, school sport matches, music competitions, family dynamics, house interiors, tatami floors, supermarkets part time jobs routines, sales and advertisements, and also the hilarious rural scenes around the story of the mushrooms and the boar.
In other others words, the film brings a rich and immense collection of Japanese culture products, practices and perspectives to the classroom in a very entertaining way.