Reel Asian Film Festival: THE MIRACLE OF CRYBABY SHOTTAN (Japan 2019) ***

The Miracle of Crybaby Shottan Poster


Toshiaki Toyoda


Shôji Segawa (biography), Toshiaki Toyoda (screenplay)

Shogi is the name of Japanese chess.  This film tells the true story of shogi (Japanese chess) player, Shoji “Shottan” Segawa. Despite consistent dedication, Shottan (Ryuhei Matsuda) fails to go professional by the time he turns 26, permanently forfeiting his chance according to the game’s strict rules. Shottan does not abandon his dream and continues as a top amateur until, at 35, he makes an unprecedented bid to go professional.  MIRACLE is a feel good crowd pleaser that works best when the unexpected occurs – showing that life can dish up unexpected twists.  And that is the miracle and wonder of it all.  The film is inspired by the director’s

personal shogi experience (he trained to go professional as an adolescent).   This tale of late-blooming self-realization is an inspirational study of perseverance against all odds.  Both a sensitive character study a fascinating glimpse into the closed world of shogi, director Toyoda’s film though based on the chess player’s biography does not feel like one.  A bit lengthy at over 2 hours, the film could be improved if edited more tightly.   Excellent camerawork too!