SEA OF YOUTH was Ogawa’s first directorial effort. After leaving Iwanami Productions along with most of his cohort, he struck an unusual path. He gathered young activists together to make an independent documentary on the plight of correspondence students. The film features the group itself as they plot their activism. Many of the onscreen personalities would become core members of Ogawa Productions. The film met only mild success in fundraising, so they completed it by selling off books and blood.
David Desser wrote:
Ogawa’s first film, “Seinen no umi” (“Sea of Youth,” 1966), conccerns four correspondence students trying to earn a college degree. This inaugurates Ogawa’s concern with youth and with discrimination. The film (about thirty minutes long) begins with shots of the students (three men and a woman) picketing and carrying signs. This is intercut with shots of uniformed college students playing football. The crosscutting has the effect of comparing the plight of the correspondence students, who have turned to activism out of necessity, to their classmates who have time for fun and games. Through voice-over narration (a common technique in Ogawa’s films) we learn that there are 60,000 young people who attend Japanese colleges as correspondence students. Most of their number are working-class kids who hold down full-time jobs. These students are, of course, required to have the same number of credit hours for graduation as all other students. The issue at hand is the government’s attempt to enforce a time limit in which those credit hours may be earned. Such a constraint would make earning a degree virtually impossible given the correspondence students’ circumstances. To fight this proposed legislation, these four students have formed a committee to organize a protest campaign. This strategy upsets some of the faculty who discuss abandoning the entire correspondence system, and it alienates many of the full-time students who refuse to march in support of their part-time classmates. The correspondence students, despite this hostility, continue their struggle. “Sea of Youth” overtly supports the correspondence students in their cause and thus gives voice to a near-voiceless, powerless minority.
1.00GB | 54m 07s | 716×537 | mkv