Follow TV Tropes


Film / All About Lily Chou-Chou

Go To
"For me, only the Ether is the proof I'm alive. But lately, my Ether is running out"

<<The Ether heals my pain>>
(From: Dream Child)

A 2001 film directed by Shunji Iwai, based on an online novel he wrote, that revolves around the friendship between Yuichi Hasumi and Shunsuke Hoshino. Two rather timid boys in middle school who are regularly confronted with bullying. The two boys nonetheless become fast friends and bonds over their love for "Lily Chou-Chou"——an ethereal singer who was born at the exact same time when Mark David Chapman killed John Lennon——in which Yuichi is a passionate fan as Lily's music provides an escape from his miserable life, through the 'Ether' that her music releases. He and Hoshino frequently corresponds on a fansite called Lilyphilia.

However, this changes after a fated summer vacation in which Hoshino almost drowns. From then on, he's no longer the same and the friendship between the two is changed forever.


This film is unique for the integration of chatroom texts with the plot. Events of the film is often recounted in brief, which often followed with the poster's attempt to relate said event with Lily's music. This film is told by posts from two users: philia (site manager of Lilyphilia) and Blue Cat, which are the two main characters. Until the climax of the film, it is left to interpretation on which user is Hoshino or Yuichi.

In 2003, Quentin Tarantino used Lily's song, "Wounds That Heal" as a part of the soundtrack of Kill Bill.


<<This film provides examples of>> (From: TvTropes):

  • A Date with Rosie Palms: A darker and Squickier variant, Yuichi's tormentors forced him to do this in front of them, right after breaking his Lily CD.
  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Hoshino's mother, to the point where Yuichi mistakes her as Hoshino's sister.
  • Adults Are Useless: None of the adult characters actually help them, or even aware about the horrifying events happening to the teens, with an exception of their teacher, who helped Yuichi after he got caught shoplifting.
  • Adult Fear: This film is riddled with them. All of these atrocities the characters done puts this film in the same league as Kids. Surprisingly, Yuichi's mother wasn't aware of her son being riddled in all of the horrifying events.
  • Anachronic Order: The film starts during present day, then it flashes back to events from Hoshino and Yuichi's pasts which leads up to the present day.
  • Audience Participation: The original online novel was written in a forum website in the form of posts, similar to the style of the posts in this film. The original novel's format allowed readers to openly discuss about Lily In-Universe matter. Most of these posts were later lifted to the film as posts written by Lilyphilia users.
  • Breakup Breakout: In-universe, Lily Chou-Chou reached considerable success in her solo career more than her forays in her band, Philia.
  • Break the Cutie: All of the characters started as good-natured people broken down by all the horrifying events of this film.
  • Children Are Innocent: While this movie horribly averts this trope, the characters are shown as still having a little bit of innocence.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Yuichi eventually took revenge by stabbing Hoshino at Lily's concert venue.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: After all the 'help' Yuichi gave to Hoshino, after all the torments he received, his gift? Getting his concert ticket torn apart by Hoshino at the venue entrance!
  • Driven to Suicide: Tsuda eventually committed suicide near the end of the film. Additionally, philia and Blue Cat expressed their suicidal thoughts in the website.
  • Enjo Kosai: Hoshino eventually blackmails Tsuda into becoming this under his 'payroll'. Later she sees nothing wrong with her 'job' as it pays well. At one point she even stole her client's wallet.
  • Fake Band: Lily Chou-Chou. Before she had gone solo, she was in a band called Philia.
  • Genre Roulette: The genre of Lily's music can be quite tricky to qualify. Her music ranges from J-Pop ("Breathe") to Ambient ("Arabesque") to dream pop ("Manic And Depressive").
  • Good Bad Girl: Tsuda.
  • From Bad to Worse: The events that followed after Hoshino nearly drowns in Okinawa.
  • Homage: The song "Arabesque" is a homage to Debussy's Arabesque
  • Important Haircut: Kuno shows up in class with her hair crudely shaved off after getting gang-raped.
  • Jitter Cam: Some scenes are filmed with a hand-held camera, complete with Camera Abuse, similar to the style of Dogme 95. Hoshino's trip to Okinawa are filmed in this style to evoke a 'travel log' feel.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Subverted. Hoshino is initially this during the first year, until later when someone revealed to Yuichi that Hoshino's parents are divorcing as their business crumbles.
  • Loony Fan: An overzealous Lily 'fan' attacks someone for not liking her works before her solo career during her concert, near the climax of the film.
  • Meaningful Name: Played with. Early in the film Yuichi's parents considered changing the first name of Yuichi's younger brother "Shin-ichi" to "Shin-ji", as "-ichi" meant 'first child'.
    • "Chou-chou" was the nickname Claude Debussy (which Lily hails as the first musician to have 'Ether') gave to his daughter.
  • Near-Death Experience: Hoshino during his trip to Okinawa.
  • Number Two: Yuichi was forced to become this to Hoshino,, handling his 'works', which includes keeping an eye at Tsuda's 'job' and helping Hoshino arrange Kuno's gang rape.
  • Rape as Drama: Hoshino orders his gang to rape Kuno after learning that she unknowingly offended the Girl Posse.
  • Scapegoat Creator: In-universe, some of Lily's fans blames Kamakatsu, the leader of Philia, for wasting Lily's talents and getting in her solo career after the breakup.
  • Scenery Porn: The paddy rice fields where Yuichi listens to Lily in the opening. Also in the credits with Hoshino and Tsuda.
  • Shout-Out: "the world has turned into grey".
    • The Beatles and Björk are mentioned by members of Lilyphilia during a discussion of Lily's music.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Debussy's quiet piano pieces play over such scenes as a gang rape.
  • Stacy's Mom: The boys who meet Hoshino's mom all tend to agree that she's really pretty.
  • Start of Darkness: Hoshino after his Near-Death Experience. Complete with Took a Level in Jerkass.
  • Teens Are Monsters: And how. All of the horrifying acts committed in this film are done by them!
  • Truth in Television: Unfortunately, most of the cruelty that Yuichi and Hoshino endure are frighteningly common in Japanese schools.
  • The Un-Reveal: The "Ether" that fans of Lily frequently talks about was never really explained.
  • The Unseen: Lily Chou-Chou. The closest thing audience will get is a music video that Yuichi sees on a large screen at the end of the film.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Yuichi and Hoshino after the latter Took a Level in Jerkass by becoming the class bully. Hoshino also sent his boys to torment Yuichi, as shown in the beginning.

<<The things you hold dear, friends, family, lovers will hurt you the most>>
(From: Les Paul)

Example of: