Features Live Action Movies

See You ‘This’ Week!
Kono Taimu Ruupu,
Joshi ni Kizukasenaito Owaranai,

Director – Ryo Takebayashi – 2022 – Japan – Cert. – 82m


A comedy in which a group of office workers must find a way to escape the week-long time loop in which they find themselves trapped – plays UK cinemas in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2024 between Friday, 2nd February and Sunday, 31st March

A dream. A Friday night conversation with the client she’s always wanted to work for and with whom she starts a job next Monday. Monday, October 25th. Akemi Yoshikawa (Wan Marui) wakes up in the office where she and advertising her co-workers have just pulled an all-nighter to get the presentations done for the client. They are exhausted, necks in travel pillows as they kip on the floor. A hapless bird strikes the window. Their middle-aged boss Mr. Nagahisa (Sports Makita) saunters in after a restful weekend.

Now Yoshiwaka must get working on that Miso Soup Soda Tablet product launch that the client wants to sound like something out of the ordinary. But then, the two guys at the next desk try to tell her that they are trapped in a time loop. They, as in, everyone in the office. She doesn’t really have the time to listen. She takes a cab to a meeting and gets a flesh wound to her forehead in a taxi accident.

The two guys knew this was going to happen. Just as they know that at specific times, a man will be caught playing golf on a rooftop and a woman’s dropping a handkerchief on a pedestrian crossing will start a romantic encounter. They’ve researched possible causes of a loop in esoteric magazines and have the answer: it’s the boss’ green bead bracelet on his wrist. If they can destroy that, all will return to normal.

But the boss won’t listen unless the information is told him via his immediate subordinate in the company, and they must inform several layers of management of the problem in order to get to this one person to whom the boss will listen.

The first weeks take about 20 minutes on the screen, the second week five minutes and after than that the weeks, represented only by their significant fragment moments, pass swiftly. To help first her and then others remember they are re-living the week, the two guys slap two crossed hands on the desk with a thump and tell the listener to remember the word ‘pigeon’, which will show them the bird strike incident is a repeat and trigger memories of everything else that happened in the week.

More and more of the staff get involved, but when they convince the boss to destroy the bracelet halfway through the film, they realise that isn’t the cause – it’s something else. That something else turns out to be an unfinished draft manga sitting in his desk drawer, his dream which he abandoned to facilitate the day-to-day running of the office. Only by selflessly working as a team, to ink the comic artwork and persuade Mr. Nagahisa to finish writing the manga, can they break the time loop and return the office to normal time.

With echoes of Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993) and other loop movies, this boasts a winsome ensemble cast who draw the audience in just as the various office workers and boss are one by one drawn into the conspiracy in order to resolve the situation and extricate themselves from its tyranny.

Quite a few moments (the track though the Monday morning office as various sprawled staff members attempt to wake or get up, the boss arriving after the bird strike has taken place to deliver the same, cheerful banter to his young employees word for word, a power cut late on Friday when the lights go out for 15 minutes) are lovingly and innovatively constructed so that when they play over and over again, they hold the audience’s attention every time.

To this English outsider, the narrative feels extremely Japanese in the sense that it opens on a lone, office worker and her various concerns, however by the time we arrive at the end of the tale, this emphasis has shifted, one office additional worker at a time, from the needs of the individual to the needs of the group i.e. the half a dozen plus people who work in the same office.

Curiously, it never mentions that the Sunday before everything goes back a week is October 31st i.e. Hallowe’en, although its original Japanese release date of Friday, 28th October 2022 would render the fact obvious to those who saw it on its opening weekend there.

While the genre is very definitely comedy and very definitely not in the slightest horror, although it has clear science fiction and fantasy overtones, it’s likeable rather than riotously funny. Yet, the plight of the office as more and more of its workers come to realise what’s going on, effectively holds the audience’s attention throughout.

While Groundhog Day is the obvious comparison, this film plays out very differently from that US classic. Mondays: See You This Week is hugely enjoyable, highly original and well worth catching. It’s also extremeely well put together, traversing its unique tale in a lean 82 minutes. Sometimes, less is more.

(Review 400 wds) 

Mondays: See You ‘This’ Week plays UK cinemas in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2024 between Friday, 2nd February and Sunday, 31st March.


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