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Film / Nobody Knows

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Nobody Knows (誰も知らない "Dare mo Shiranai") is a 2004 Japanese movie directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda.

In Nobody Knows, we get the story of four kids: Akira, Kyoko, Shigeru, and Yuki, who are between 12 and 5 years old, half-siblings, and live in a small apartment in Tokyo, Japan, with their mother, Keiko. While their lives were odd, they seemed happy, even if the younger kids couldn't go or do anything outside or if their mother often leaves them. However, things change when their mother leaves and doesn't come back.

Tropes for Nobody Knows:

  • Adults Are Useless: Played with, as, adults can't help because they don't really know the situation and, unfortunately, Akira doesn't tell them either. However, on the other hand, telling the adults about their situation could end up with the kids evicted from their home because Keiko (their mom) rented the apartment without mentioning Shigeru and Yuki.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The movies ends on an ambigous note as, after Yuki dies and is buried, the kids with Saki appear to move on with their lives but we never find out if they ever get help out of the situation (which would make a Bittersweet Ending if they did), or whether Akira and Saki would hook up.
  • Based on a True Story: The movie based on the 1988 Sugamo Case
  • Children Are Innocent: Yuki, who doesn't understand that their mother isn't coming back. The other kids catch on after some time but Yuki remains clueless.
  • Compensated Dating: A girl Akira makes friends with, Saki, does this. Akira wasn't real keen on taking money from her because of this.
  • Death of a Child: Yuki's in a household accident.
  • Kill the Cutie: Yuki, who dies in a household accident, while Akira was out playing baseball.
  • Minor Living Alone: Happens to the kids when the mother leaves.
  • Parental Abandonment: We get a deconstructed version of this as, when Keiko leaves and with no one knowing who their fathers are, the kids try to cope with the best they can.
  • Parental Neglect: Keiko is more negligent than caring when it comes to her kids, as she leaves them for months on end and then comes back with presents. She then leaves again to chase a new boyfriend, promising to come back after she gets married but she doesn't, nor does she give them any financial support either..
  • Parent with New Paramour: Keiko leaves her children to chase after a new boyfriend. Eventually, she gets married but doesn't come back for the kids.
  • Promotion to Parent: Akira, in a deconstruction. He's the oldest and so has to play the surrogate father role, especially when their mother leaves them. He takes much of the hardship.
  • Really Gets Around: Keiko, from what's implied, as the four kids are half-siblings and, like the kids, she doesn't know who their fathers are either. This adds more problems when the money runs out and the Akira tries to get help from two of Yuki's potential fathers.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Because only one other person knows about their situation, no one can help the kids and things get worse down the road as they risk being evicted entirely if the landlords find out.
    • Their mother, while she abandoned them, did leave them money but, unfortunately, she didn't leave them enough to last more than a few months, let alone a year, so, when money gets tight, the rent can't be paid and the utilities are cut off. Adding to this, the oldest, Akira and Kyoko, are too young to work, so they have no means of financially supporting themselves.
    • While deaths from household falls are a common occurrence, we can guess that what played a part in Yuki's death was malnutrition
  • Tragic Dream: Akira promised Yuki that he'd take her to see the Japanese Monorail and to the airport to take watch airplanes to take off. Sadly, by the time he does do either of those things, it's after she died and he buries her there