Best known in the West for his supporting role as the flamingo-dancing fiend in Shall We Dance?, Naoto Takenaka takes a turn at directing with this deadpan film about love and longing in Japan's boondocks. 119 is Japan's number for emergency assistance, but the fire fighters in the remote rural backwater of Harari haven't seen any action for a good 18 years. Much of the day at the local firehouse is spent polishing and repolishing their engine, playing shogi, and napping. To add to their tedium, all available women in town have left for the big city. The lads are forced to dance with each other at the nearby bar on weekends for lack of women. Things change when a goateed academic ventures to the town to study the crabs along the local beaches. His assistant is Momoko Hibino (Kyoka Suzuki) -- a stunningly beautiful lass who quickly garners the rapt attention of the entire firehouse. Two firemen in particular fall completely for the young biologist. One is Ishii (Hidekazu Akai), a burly lad who is too bashful to speak to Momoko. The other is Tsuda (Takenaka), the fire chief and an avid collector of toy fire trucks. Soon Tsuda tries to help Ishii -- à la Cyrano de Bergerac -- to land his dream girl. This film was ranked as one of the ten best Japanese films of the year by the prestigious journal Kinema Jumpo.
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