T. alt.: Janken Girls. Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo di Minoru Nakano. Scen.: Naoyuki Hatta. F.: Taiichi Kankura. M.: Koichi Iwashita. Scgf.: Shinobu Muraki. Mus.: Hachiro Matsui. Int.: Hibari Misora (Ruri Asami), Chiemi Eri (Yumi Chiaki), Izumi Yukimura (Hinagiku), Shinji Yamada (Matabei Saito), Tatsuji Ehara (Seiji Mori), Chieko Naniwa (Oshin), Minoru Takada (Kamezawa, un maestro), Yoshie Minami (Kinuko, la madre di Yumi), Yoshio Kosugi (Komei, il padre di Yumi), Sadako Sawamura (Oinu). Prod.: Sadao Sugihara, Tsujin Fukushima per Toho · 35mm. Col.
Shot in Eastmancolor, this light-hearted popular musical comedy was Toho’s fifth colour production and its biggest commercial hit of its year at a time when the studio was spearheading the genre of the Hollywood-inspired musical in Japan. Its three lead actresses, Hibari Misora, Chiemi Eri, and Izumi Yukimura, appeared in two subsequent films as the so-called sannin musume (“three girls”). Based on a popular novel by Minoru Nakano, which had been serialised in the pages of the weekly magazine “Heibon Shukan”, it features song and dance, pop culture references, and a blend of friendship and romance, and has been called the prototype of the modern Japanese idol film.
The films were all highly popular, especially among young female audiences. Although Donald Richie, reviewing So Young, So Bright on release, dismissed it as “completely superficial”, Michael Raine has praised its “delirious reflexivity”, and argued for its significance in a time of rapid social change. The film, he argues, “ameliorates contradictions between so-called ‘traditional’ values and an ‘Americanized’ mass culture”. Meanwhile, reviewer Brian Camp praises the film’s “beautiful display of Japanese color cinematography and production design”. The film was partly shot on location in Japan’s old capital of Kyoto; in a witty in-joke, director Sugie appears in an onscreen cameo as the director of the period film the girls see being shot during their visit to that city.