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Call Me Chihiro review: This Japanese film proves ordinary is special

Chihiro is a special character who deserves to be celebrated.

Call Me Chihiro review: This Japanese film proves ordinary is special
Call Me Chihiro.
  • Shaheen Irani

Last Updated: 01.25 PM, Mar 03, 2023

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Chihiro is a sex worker who has now transformed her life. She is not afraid to hide her identity but often times, gets judged for who she has been. Will she be able to find herself and her purpose in a world that looks down upon her?


“A fish goes to the bottom to sleep and when it wakes up, it starts swimming again.” That is exactly what the life of Keisuke Chihiro looks like. She reaches the bottom, stays afloat and comes back to the top to breathe, well, almost. Loneliness never leaves her side which makes her just as human as we all are. That is the beauty of Call Me Chihiro. It is a human story. There’s nothing extraordinary in this film but the ordinary bits are what make it so special.

Call Me Chihiro begins in the cutest manner possible. Kasumi Arimura is introduced as Chihiro aka Aya soon into the story. She is free-spirited and child-like, which makes her instantly loveable.

She is the perfect example of a woman who lives her life. Keisuke Chihiro does exactly what she likes and even helps those in need. Her life seems just perfect but of course you know that something huge is waiting for you if everything seems alright.

“If you want to know what someone’s like, look into their eyes,” she believes. When you look into her eyes, you are sure to get lost. There’s a lot of mystery she carries, a lot of pain that hides behind the beautiful smile. Chihiro describes love in the purest way possible and yes, you will fall in love with her character. It is no wonder that while the men drool over her, the women seek her out.

She has a different side to her too, which is just as relatable. This is especially true for a woman of her stature, or women in general but especially because she has a hidden side. Thanks to that, she has a good mother/teacher side. This quality is important because you see it in her since the very start. She is either a mother or teacher to the two most important living beings in her life. You get to know that later in the story.


There’s anime and manga reference in the film. Our lead, Chihiro, fantasizes manga characters just like any one of us, making her even more normal. Toward The Terra and Keith Anyan are the focus here, more than once.

Another culture reference from Japan is the focus on its wholesome and colourful food. Of course, the whole family sits for dinner with no TV on and discuss life. However, the one missing element is that they are not seated on the floor. That said, the family we talk about is richer and thus, it likely has a US influence.

Tragedy strikes and the execution of that scene and everything before it is slow but still works because it is beautiful. In fact, what happens after the scene is also beautiful. It shows that life moves on and you take the good bits with you.

Hana Toyoshima as Okaji is a treat to watch. She’s almost like Chihiro but almost the geekier version of her.

The film leaves you with great lessons and one of them including befriending the right kind of people so you are never left with a bitter taste in your mouth.

Scenes in this movie go back-and-forth. However, it establishes well and so, you never feel lost even for a minute.

There’s an intense conversation soon after. The movie gets dark very soon and if you dig it, you definitely will love where the film goes.

Life goes on, past life creeps back into the present and much more. How the film deals with it all, is what makes Call Me Chihiro special.

This one debates the age-old topic – can a man and a woman be friends without a physical relationship? The movie deals with this topic through a scene, where two females are conflicted over a man.

The movie has a lot of surprises and adorable moments which make it a definite watch. The camera angle in the last scene wraps the film well. You see how each character has grown and that makes it one of the best endings. It is not the last scene, not yet but the last scene is also a good flashback. Not that impactful though.


Call Me Chihiro is a sweet film with a message. It shows that all humans are exactly that – humans. It shares the simple message of not to judge people by their profession, especially because you do not know what the person is going through internally. The message is important and that makes the film special. Do watch this one for it is well executed and has a sweet and warm message.