Be with You / Takuji Ichikawa
Mio Aio’s death leaves her husband Takumi and six year-old son Yuji to fend for themselves. Takumi is congenitally disorganized, suffers occasional fainting spells, and fears that his health compromised his dead wife’s happiness. Yuji overhears relatives speculate that his own difficult delivery compromised Mio’s health, and blames himself for his mother’s death. Mio had left Yuji a picture book; in the book, Mio departs for a celestial body she calls “the Archive Star” but reappears in Japan during the following year’s rainy season; turning the pages, Yuji eagerly awaits her return.
Villain / Shūichi Yoshida
A young insurance saleswoman is found strangled at Mitsuse Pass. Her family and friends are shocked and terrified. The pass—which tunnels through a mountainous region of southern Japan—has an eerie history: a hideout for robbers, murderers, and ghostly creatures lurking at night.
Soon afterward, a young construction worker becomes the primary suspect. As the investigation unfolds, the events leading up to the murder come darkly into focus, revealing a troubled cast of characters: the victim, Yoshino, a woman much too eager for acceptance; the suspect, Yuichi, a car enthusiast misunderstood by everyone around him; the victim’s middle-aged father, a barber disappointed with his life; and the suspect’s aging grandmother, who survived the starvation of postwar Japan only to be tormented by local gangsters. And, finally, there is desperate Mitsuyo, the lonely woman who finds Yuichi online and makes the big mistake of falling for him.
The Eighth Day / Mitsuyo Kakuta
A woman named Kiwako (Hiromi Nagasaku) abducts a baby from a man with whom she has had an affair. For four years Kiwako has raised the child as her own until she gets arrested. The child named Erina is then returned to her birth parents, but she can’t find peace. As an adult, Erina (Mao Inoue) also has affairs with a married man and gets pregnant. To confront her past, Erina goes to Shodoshima where she has lived with Kiwako as a child. There Erina discovers a shocking truth and makes a decision.
The Briefcase / Hiromi Kawakami
Tsukiko, thirty-eight, works in an office and lives alone. One night, she happens to meet one of her former high school teachers, “Sensei” in a local bar. Tsukiko had only ever called him “Sensei” (“Teacher”). He is thirty years her senior, retired, and presumably a widower. Their relationship, traced by Kawakami’s gentle hints at the changing seasons, develops from a perfunctory acknowledgment of each other as they eat and drink alone at the bar, to an enjoyable sense of companionship, and finally into a deeply sentimental love affair.
The Housekeeper and the Professor / OGAWA Yoko
He is a brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem—ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.
She is an astute young Housekeeper—with a ten-year-old son—who is hired to care for the Professor.
And every morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship blossoms between them. Though he cannot hold memories for long (his brain is like a tape that begins to erase itself every eighty minutes), the Professor’s mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. And the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her young son. The Professor is capable of discovering connections between the simplest of quantities—like the Housekeeper’s shoe size—and the universe at large, drawing their lives ever closer and more profoundly together, even as his memory slips away.