Insomniacs After School
Director: Chihiro Ikeda
Starring: Daiken Okudaira, Nana Mori
I remember many, many times I wanted nothing more than to simply sleep through my classes at school. For any kids reading, do not heed that advice, stay awake and get educated. However, for the two main characters of Insomniacs After School, Ganta (Okudaira) and Isaki (Mori), their desk drowsiness stems from more than simply sheer boredom. The pair are insomniacs who, in the absence of sleeping through the night, find solace in catching forty winks in the school’s astronomy observatory - initially Isaki’s refuge place before Ganta unwittingly discovered it. After agreeing to keep the shared sleeping space a secret, the pair have a better idea to cover their tracks…start an Astronomy Club and only allow for two members - themselves.
"Insomniacs After School is an easy watch, it doesn’t entirely threaten to have you reaching for the tissues, but its leisurely pace won’t have you succumbing to some shut-eye either."
As an early note, I have not read the popular manga that this is adapted from, nor have I watched the recent anime series of the same story, so I went into this story with fresh eyes and no expectations.
Insomniacs After School is a sweet film, it has a strangely comforting tone in the sense that it doesn’t carry any urgency, there are no antagonists (insomnia, aside), and it possesses two affable lead characters. Whilst the premise eventually begins to unravel due to its limitations, spending time with Ganta and Isaki who begin as awkward teens who tolerate each other's company simply because of their shared sleeplessness before transitioning into real friends and maybe more to boot - Okudaira and Mori are delightful together and provide enjoyable performances. Where the film falters is by introducing melodrama in order to offer something beyond just teen bonding, we find out that Isaki has a medical condition that ensures she is constantly trying not to fall asleep lest in her mind she may never awaken, whereas Ganta suffers from childhood trauma which occurred whilst he was sleeping. There’s no harm in introducing further subplots or definitions, it just seemed unnecessary here to bog down the story with schmaltz when there were other directions to take the characters in that would have continued on the foundations built prior in the film.
Insomniacs After School is an easy watch, it doesn’t entirely threaten to have you reaching for the tissues, but its leisurely pace won’t have you succumbing to some shut-eye either. The major problem is that, amongst the melodrama, nothing really happens by the end of the film, and it can’t claim to be a slice-of-life picture either. It has plenty of endearing moments between its two leads and if you’re looking for a fairly breezy watch, Insomniacs After School isn’t a bad choice - even if you won’t be left with any unanswered questions or pondering its thematic subjects.
July 26th 2023