Tatsuo “Fuku-chan” Fukuda (Miyuki Oshima) is a 32-year-old painter living in a charmingly decrepit apartment complex called Fukufuku Flats. Since moving to Tokyo from rural Tochigi Prefecture, Fuku-chan has held a steady job at a small construction firm where he spends his days channeling a longtime dream of becoming an artist into painting buildings. His lonely evenings are spent mediating disputes between the oddball denizens of Fukufuku Flats, which include a panty thief, a slack-jawed reptile enthusiast, and an aspiring enka singer.
Fuku-chan is kind, generous, and well-liked by everyone around him. Romantically, however, his shyness around women has rendered him a disaster—until one day, a stranger turns up at Fukufuku Flats. She is Chiho Sugiura (Asami Mizukawa), Fuku-chan’s first love from junior high school 20 years earlier and the person responsible for the traumatizing incident that led to his fear of women.
This new film from Yosuke Fujita delivers all the idiosyncratic humour we can expect from a Fujita film, with an added layer of pathos and emotional complexity. The film’s real revelation is Miyuki Oshima, a popular television comedienne who plays a male character in the lead role. Her miraculous performance as Fuku-chan—deadpan hilarious with heart-rending emotional underpinnings—earned her the Cheval Noir Best Actress Award at the 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival. Oshima is ably supported by other Fujita favourites: Yoshiyoshi Arakawa, Miyuki Oshima and Asami Mizukawa. — JH