When I thought I could fly in the sky with my bicycle.

Recent SF movies are challenging. Many people seem to have a basic understanding of “special relativity theory” (somehow), so despite advances in science and technology, the idea of “aliens coming to Earth” is theoretically very difficult. Hence, they appear before Earthlings by incorporating multidimensional narratives like in “Interstellar,” suggesting that time from past to future exists simultaneously like in “Arrival,” or overcoming the three-body problem (unsolvable by humans) like in “The Three-Body Problem.” It’s truly intricate. Depicting aliens in contemporary SF movies has become more complex than before. Filmmakers, it’s a tough time indeed.

In that regard, the story of “E.T.” (1982) is straightforward. Alien botanists visit Earth for plant collection, and E.T. (real name unknown), mesmerized by the nighttime scenery of LA, gets left behind. He meets the kind-hearted Elliott and bonds with him and his siblings, eventually using Earth’s equipment to build a communicator and call his spaceship to take him back home. So simple.

However, E.T. is a bit of a klutz (considering he’s supposed to be more advanced than humans). I mean, he misses his ride on the spaceship (which would have gotten him in trouble later), he drops things (despite having hands almost identical to humans’), and he even gets drunk and causes a scene (Sōichi Noguchi wouldn’t pass out drunk on a stranded planet). Yet, his charm still captures children’s hearts, maybe it’s his charisma after all.

Actually, “E.T.” is quite the bicycle movie. In the first half, Elliott rides his bike to lure E.T. with candy (a scientist, but still…), and there are scenes like flying through the sky with the moon as a backdrop on Halloween. A must-see is the bike chase in the latter half. The scene where they race through the suburban development outside LA is still cool to watch today. The high-ten frame BMX used is made by Kuwahara. In 1979, the Kuwahara BMX Team was formed in the USA, and Kuwahara BMX bikes were a dream for kids. Spielberg, researching for the movie, heard about Kuwahara from children and decided to use it (at the time, the Kuwahara representative didn’t know Spielberg’s name and was reluctant to provide them for free). It’s not hard to imagine that after the movie’s release, Kuwahara made a significant impact in the BMX and MTB scenes.

Upon revisiting “E.T.,” I was drawn in by its simple story and well-paced narrative. The fashion of the time (now experiencing an ’80s revival), the culture (pre-video game era teen activities look fun), and family issues (divorce due to infidelity, which may be hard for children to grasp) are all worth revisiting. Take some time to watch “E.T.” again. Its charm never fades with age, offering new discoveries with each viewing. It’s a chance to rediscover the joy of riding a bike. Just be careful not to succumb to the desire for a BMX bike—it’s hard to resist!


Text_Hideki Inoue
I am from Amagasaki City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. I work as a writer and editor. My hobbies include hot baths, skiing, and fishing. Although I have no personal connection, I am independently conducting research on Shiga Prefecture. I prefer an active fishing style called “RUN & GUN,” which involves moving around actively instead of staying in one place. Purchasing a car to transport bicycles for this style of cycling seems like putting the cart before the horse.

Illusutration_Michiharu Saotome

“Izakaya Choji”
The coolness of Ken-san riding a bicycle on the slopes of Hakodate.

When I was traveling through Hokkaido by train, there was a peculiar announcement. It warned us to be careful because the name of the next station had changed for a drama shoot. The atmosphere in the train buzzed with excitement. It was a popular drama set in Furano, Hokkaido. The train arrived at the station, but we passed what seemed to be the film crew. Then, in the corner of the platform, I saw a tall man. Even though he had a hat pulled down low, I immediately recognized him as Ken Takakura. Perhaps he had come to visit the filming location of an old friend (Kunie Tanaka). Acknowledging our gaze, Ken-san shyly raised his hand in greeting. It was an overwhelming coolness. Since then, although not from the same generation, I started watching films starring Ken Takakura.

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“Kids Return”
Keep pedaling towards the darkness ahead.

Director Takeshi Kitano’s works are often associated with yakuza films, perhaps due to the influence of movies like “Violent Cop” and “OUTRAGE.” However, looking at his lineup, it’s evident that he has produced a variety of styles, including “A Scene at the Sea,” “Kikujiro no Natsu,” and “Zatoichi,” amidst his violent works. Director Takeshi Kitano, along with comedian Beat Takeshi, is capable of portraying both tranquility and dynamism, representing two extremes. Among his diverse range of works, “Kids Return” (1996), which focuses on boxing, stands out as a unique piece. Depending on the viewer, generation, and background, the interpretation of the main themes, such as sports films, youth dramas, comedies, tragedies, and yakuza films, can vary significantly.

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