Life in the fishermen’s town of Nagashima appears idyllic. Pretty Akane has been working as a server in a restaurant for a year, coming up with activities for the local children, and nobody has any clue as to why she moved here from Tokyo. Satsuki helps her husband, as most wives of the local fishermen do, and aided by the grandma she raises their (foster) son Towa. When he and his foster parents are finally ready for official adoption a few years later, the boy’s biological mother shows interest in him too. Satsuki’s dream of a functional family that she was trying to create for their son is crushed. She cannot accept that Towa would leave with a woman who abandoned him as an infant years ago. The emotionally charged drama about the conflict between the child’s biological mother and the woman who the child has called ‘mum’ virtually all his life asks tricky questions. Which of the women is the ‘true’ mother to the child is left up for the viewers to figure out. It may appear that even the authors of the film are not sure about that. Beautiful coast sceneries and long sunset shots will offer you a lot of time to contemplate the difficult topic.
When a child is abandoned or even in danger, this always stirs the most powerful emotions. We can understand the mother’s desperate situation, but we will likely have a hard time understanding and excusing her worldview and the selfish preference of her own happiness, which comes at the cost of the child losing assurance and security in life. In the film, Towa the boy actually appears to be the firmest point of the triangle relationship.
In its secondary plot, After the Sunset offers a glimpse into the life and work of fishermen. It depicts the social structure in small Japanese towns and the cooperation within the fishing community, which is reflected in the local school and folkloric festivals.
©Nagashima Tairiku Film Executive Committee