Two friends in their final year of high-school, Asuha (Rina Ono) and Hikaru (Marin Nishimoto), arrive to watch a baseball game, a sport they know very little about. They are joined by fellow student, Fujino (Amon Hirai), who used to play but has since given up, and later the studious Miyashita (Shuri Nakamura) whose reasons for being there are less clear. Despite the urging of the enthusiastic English teacher, Mr. Atsugi, the four are at first uncomfortable cheering on their team who are playing much stronger opponents.
“On the Edge of their Seats” plays out almost as a one-act theatre piece, with the majority of the action taking place on the bleachers at the baseball game. We never see the field or players, instead the camera is firmly fixed on these often indifferent spectators, creating a unique dynamic as we see their reactions to the game and their discussions, and attention, wandering to and from the baseball. The actors are believable in their roles, with their naturalistic performances helped by a well observed, lightly comic script from Tetsuya Okumura. The story moves deftly from the humour of Asuha and Hikaru’s complete ignorance about the sport they are watching to themes of strained friendships, broken dreams and unrequited love. We learn that Asuha and Hikaru are members of the drama club, their hopes of participating in regional finals dashed by Hikaru catching the flu at the last minute; Fujino is pining for the quiet Miyashita; top student Miyashita is dealing with losing out on top place on a recent test to her romantic rival Kusumi (Hikari Kuroki). The script builds all the elements quietly, slowly introducing new strands to the story and creating believable characters who have a good chemistry together. It cuts away from the stands occasionally, using the setting of the baseball stadium well to break up the action.
A fun, coming-of-age film that takes a unique approach to its familiar themes. The friendship of Asuha and Hikaru being tested; the faltering romances of several characters; the stress surrounding test results; and teenage angst, are all encapsulated in a single afternoon spent watching baseball. Although we do not see the game, baseball is used as an allegory for life throughout. The idea of the outfielders, paid little attention until they make a mistake, or the incompetent batter who nevertheless remains determined to succeed, provide parallels with the way society treats those unlucky individuals who fail to make centre stage. The idea of the characters as observers, rather than players, emphasises this idea, with them sitting as far away from the ‘action’ as they can. The teacher character of Atsugi, as might be expected in a teen drama, offers several words of wisdom throughout. The four characters, who have largely given up on their dreams, are shown that it is not the result but the effort that is most important; and that people should continue chasing their dreams no matter how many setbacks they encounter.