Momoko, Kaeru no Uta ga Kikoeru yo. (もも子, かえるの歌がきこえるよ., also known as "My Sister Momoko") is a 2003 animated film directed by Setsuko Shibuichi, based on a book written by Akari Hoshi and animated by Magic Bus. It's a tale of a boy named Riki and his sister Momoko. The two were born prematurely, and while Riki did not suffer any ill effects, Momoko developed both mental and physical disabilities.
Every morning, Momoko becomes peevish because she can't go to the ordinary school with Riki. Her family soothes her by singing her favorite song "The Song of Frogs."
One day, Momoko shouts encouragement to Riki who's playing dodgeball at an open classroom day and Riki's team wins the game. Ryuji, whose team lost the game, is not impressed and demands that Riki stop bringing his 'idiot sister' to school. Riki totally loses control and hits Ryuji with all his might.
The following year, an experiment in integrated education is implemented and Momoko begins to attend Riki's school. Unfortunately, her physical condition takes a turn for the worse and she's sent to a hospital. Riki and all her classmates want to cheer her up and they set a goal of winning a relay race so that they would be able to tell Momoko the good news. Meanwhile, the fastest sprinter, Ryuichi, insists that he won't be taking part in the race.
Despite having good reviews in Japan, and recommended by people who have seen it, this film is unknown outside of Japan and considered a cult film.
This film provides examples of:
- An Aesop: It is a movie that was and is used in Japan to help raise awareness for that many suffer from physical and mental disabilities. It is listed in the "Human Rights Library Japan" database, and is also used by Shizuoka Prefecture as well as other organizations to help raise awareness to these issues.
- Big Brother Instinct: Riki does not take insults to Momoko well.
- Bittersweet Ending: Momoko didn't make it and died in the film's climax, surrounded by her family and friends. One year later, Riki and his friends are helping people with disabilities and he said that he has grown as a person thanks to Momoko.
- Book Dumb: Riki's not a great student.
- Break the Cutie: Momoko and, to a lesser extent, the disabled children.
- Coming of Age Story: Told under Riki's perspective.
- Cool Teacher: Mr. Kuroki, Riki's homeroom teacher, is a very nice man and the kids love him. He was very accepting of Momoko from the beginning.
- Covers Always Lie: The promotional art shows Momoko in a red dress, but she's never seen wearing one in the movie.
- Death of a Child: Momoko dies at the end.
- Determinator: When Momoko falls during gym class, her brother tries to help her get to the finish line, but she refuses his helps and wants to finish her portion of the race on her own.
- Doomed by Canon: At the first minutes of the film, its revealed that Momoko was born with disabilities and the doctors said that she could not survive for long.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The film's main title. note
- Gentle Giant: Riki's teacher Mr. Kuroki, nicknamed "Godzilla" by his students. He's a compassionate and nurturing guy who "punishes" his students by tickling them, and wants them to develop compassion for others, including disabled people.
- Go Out with a Smile: Momoko dies smiling in her hospital bed, surrounded by those she loves. She ascended to a higher plane of existence, though.
- Heel–Face Turn: Almost all people who were against being with Momoko.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Momoko's raison d'etre.
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Momoko, type C.
- Leitmotif: The frog's song is a big part of the film.
- Japanese Honorifics: Momoko refers to Riki as "Onii-chan." This is indicative of their relationship- Riki is only a few minutes older than Momoko, but he has to act like her older brother anyway because Momoko has developmental delays.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ryuji is a bully who has some rather nasty opinions about disabled people and seems to go out of his way to antagonize Momoko. But this is probably a result of his father's influence and his mother's abandonment and once he has his Heel–Face Turn he makes up for it.
- Meaningful Name: Momoko means Peach Girl and Riki means Strength.
- Melodrama: So much, indeed.
- Men Don't Cry: Averted when Momoko dies. Riki and his father both cry, and all of Riki's classmates, including the boys, cry upon seeing her body. Even before that, Riki cries at several other points, such as when he has to apologize to Ryuji for punching him, when he's arguing with his father and says his parents only love Momoko, and when he's asking Ryuji to run in the relay because he thinks if their class wins the relay, maybe Momoko will get well.
- Older Than They Look: Momoko is Riki's age, but because of her disability is smaller and both looks and acts younger.
- Parental Abandonment:
- The stories told between the parents of the disabled children.
- Ryuuji's mother.
- Parents as People: Riki and Momoko's parents are good people who genuinely love both their children, but they can't always prioritize Riki's needs because of Momoko's condition.
- Soap Opera Disease: It's not really said what Momoko's condition is, besides that comes with a slew of issues, that she was born with it, and that it started affecting her when she was five years old. However, because she's shown to have it and Riki isn't, it's likely not genetic.
- Wham Line: "When Momoko saw Dad, she breathed her last breath and died in peace."