Weekly Geeky Question #6: Japanese Science Fiction Slapstick Comedy…the Sequel!

Every week in 2018, the plan is that my friend Rod is going to ask me some geeky question that will answer in a post. This week is Week #6, and the question has to do with one of my favorite movies:  Summer Time Machine Blues.

What would the theoretical sequel to Summer Time Machine Blues be about?

Summer Time Machine Blues Plot Summary 9

Now, regular readers know that I’ve written about this movie before, quite a few times.  Readers from this week especially know this as this is the fourth post in the last few days centred around the movie.  That’s not completely fair, though, since it was because this post was coming that I ended up talking about it a bunch of other times.  Specifically, I wrote this blow-by-blow spoiler-filled plot summary, for the benefit of anyone who really wanted to understand the proposed sequel but hadn’t seen the original film.

In any case, Summer Time Machine Blues is a Japanese film from 2005, directed by Katsuyuki Motohiro, about what happens when five geeky college guys discover a time machine and try to use it to save the remote control for their air conditioner, which broke the previous day.

In writing up theoretical sequel there are a couple of ground rules established by the first film that I felt had to be complied with.  (By the way, from here on out everything is going to be one giant SPOILER for Summer Time Machine Blues after another.

First, there can be no changing history.  As stressed as everyone is about this, it is clear that there is never a genuine risk of this taking place.

Second, everything has to add up, in terms of causes and effects.  That’s one of great strengths of the film.

However, closed time loops are permitted.  And indeed expected.  For instance, the events that lead to the remote breaking would not have taken place if the boys hadn’t gone back in time to try to save it.

In addition to these ground rules, there are also a couple of questions that are left open with the previous movie, that a sequel might or might not address.  Specifically, they are

1. Where did the time machine come from?  It is implied that it might have been invented by Hose, the student’s faculty advisor, but that’s never confirmed.

2. Who are Tamura’s parents?  The prevailing theory within the film is that he is Haruka’s son, and that his father is either a guy named Tamara or it’s Komoto, having changed his name.  But we never know for sure.

And finally, one that probably only I have been asking, but I’ve always wondered…

3. How does the old Caretaker recognise what the Time Machine is?  Is he just familiar with the Rod Taylor movie from the 60’s?  Is there something else going on here?

Now, it’s worth saying here that I don’t actually want this movie to be made.  I love Summer Time Machine Blues, but I’ve never really had the desire to see a sequel, distrusting, I suppose, whether such a thing could re-capture the magic of the original without simply being a retread of it.  But, the question has been asked and it will be answered.

(I’d like to point out, though, in my own defense, that the question was posed on Saturday and the basic draft of the answer was written on Wednesday.  Just to say that I don’t think it’s my best work.)

So…without further ado, let’s get onto…the movie!

Prologue – Aug 20, 2030

The prologue bears some similarities to that of the original film, in that it should contain some abrupt edits and obscure hints that there is more going on than is immediately apparent.  I haven’t thought through most of the details of these, but we’d want this to help set up what happens later, and also because viewers will be hoping to see a bit of this.

Actually, we begin late on August 20, 2005, as Tamura (henceforth referred to as Mushroom, for reasons I hope will become clear) says goodbye to all his 2005 friends on the rooftop of a building near the Sci-Fi Club.  Off he goes, to his own time.

Summer Time Machine Blues Plot Summary 10

Mushroom arrives in 2030.  Of course, he is someplace that none of his friends were expecting, so he has to call them and excitedly tell them to come and help him bring the Time Machine back to the Clubhouse.

They all show up, cackling away with questions for Mushroom, and he relays his adventures with characteristic dramatic flourish.

After bringing settling the Time Machine in the Clubhouse, Mushroom’s sister Aiko calls him on the phone.  She’s a student at the same university, and is sweet and pretty, and far more brainy and less socially awkward than her brother.  She reminds Mushroom that their dad is coming by to drop off some things they need, but she won’t be able to go so can he please meet him.  When he does, the shot cuts before we can see who their father actually is.

A bit later, Mushroom realizes that he has left his camera in the past.  He races back to the Clubhouse, does a quick hop back in time to get it, and returns, successful.

That night, he hangs out with his friends at a cafe or something, continuing to brag.  They are not fully sure if they believe everything he tells them.  He says he can prove it, and they go back to the Clubhouse.  He sees Aiko nearby, and she has a bittersweet expression, but won’t explain why.  When he goes inside, he arrives just in time to see–to his confusion–the Time Machine disappear.

Opening Titles:

Autumn Time Machine Blues

Sept 20, 2005

It’s early Autumn, a few weeks after the end of the first movie.  In one of the college buildings, everyone is getting ready for classes while Haruka and Ito are trying to stir up interest in the Photography Club.

Komoto is still taking Haruka out, but feeling awkward about it as he’s learned that it’s actually not so easy for a guy to change his name.

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The girls meet a very good looking, outgoing guy who is interested in joining the Photography club.  His name is Tamura, which of course is something everyone takes note of.

The Caretaker also wanders through, babbling vaguely incoherent things from time to time.

Summer Time Machine Blues Plot Summary 1

Soga discovers, to his shock, the Time Machine, in a closet in the building.  On it is a magazine, from the future, dated 2030.  Closer inspection shows that it has a sci-fi story about time travel published within, written by one of their own, Ishimatsu!  Also, written in red letters on the page of the story is the word “HELP”.

They all look at it, and tease Ishimatsu for apparently turning into somebody who is genuinely into sci-fi.  The help message is written next to a date in the story, August 20.  They decide to go to August 20, 2030.  Haruka, who never traveled in time before, wants to have a go, so Komoto of course volunteers to go as well.  He enlists Soga to help (the others have classes, etc, and can’t leave right now).

Aug 20, 2030

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Komoto, Haruka and Soga arrive in the university of the future.  It’s a bit different, of course, but not too different.  They look around, but find no evidence of anyone needing help.  Indeed, since it’s still Summer, it’s pretty quiet.

They decide to go to the Sci-Fi club, and realize that this is the day that Mushroom made his visit to them from.  They are cautious about interfering, and watch Mushroom’s friends send him through time for the first time.

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However, they are spotted by Aiko, who wants to know why they are sneaking around the Sci-Fi club, and also where her brother has gone off to.  Aiko is suspicious of our three heroes and ends up going with them back to the University building where they left the Time Machine.  None of them realize, however, that they are being watched and followed by a mysterious Old Lady.

Back at the other building, Soga goes to check on the Time Machine while the others try to get Aiko to leave them alone.  However, the Old Lady has followed, and when she finds the Time Machine she shows that she’s obviously familiar with it, and tries to use it.  Only interference from Soga stops her, but in the struggle, the machine activates and whisks him away, leaving the Lady behind.  The others hear enough to see the last wisps of the machine as it leaves.  Aiko is shocked of course, but Komoto is more worried about Soga, especially when he doesn’t return right away.  Meanwhile, the Old Lady hides, unseen by all of them, and frustrated.

Aug 16, 1972

Summer Time Machine Blues Plot Summary 7

Soga arrives in 1972, and finds the Machine in an open field, since the building hasn’t been built yet.  He feels horribly sick and stumbles off the machine to throw up.  A young boy is watching him, and when Soga is trying to recover, the boy climbs on the Time Machine.  As Soga looks on helplessly and shocked, the Boy messes with the controls and disappears!  Now what will he do?

Aug 20, 2030

While they decide what to do, Komoto decides they need a place to stay where they won’t get in the way.  Since nobody is ever at the Student Office, they decide to go there, only to discover there is someone there, their old advisor Hose, who now works there to make extra money.  Hose has spent the past 25 years trying to develop the Time Machine that he once saw, but has always been unsuccessful.  Still, he decided that at the very least, he could make sure the Sci-Fi Club gets their new air conditioner!

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The group, including Aiko and Hose, talk about what to do.  Komoto and Haruka decide to try to track down their old friends in the future, though they struggle with advanced google searches, and so on.  They can see that Ishimatsu is now becoming known as an author (of sci-fi stories) but don’t know how to reach him.  However, Hose knows that Niimi still lives in the area.

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Older Niimi is overjoyed to see them, and is a bit vague about what happened back in 2005 after Komoto left.  He knows where they can find both the others, though.  Ishimatsu works at a science fiction bookstore, and is beginning to make local name for himself writing stories, while Koizumi lives nearby and practically has a warehouse full of things he’s collected. They decide that Komoto and Haruka will go see Ishimatsu, while Niimi recruits Koizumi

Komoto, Haruka and Aiko go to see Ishimatsu at the book store.  Along the way, Komoto is able to quietly confirm that Aiko & Mushroom’s father is indeed the Tamura he met earlier, which saddens him.  Haruka also discovers modern digital cameras, and with Aiko’s help, buys one from 2007 or so, so it’ll be new and cutting edge when she gets back.

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Finally arriving at the bookstore, Ishimatsu is excited by their presence.  He doesn’t know anything about the “help” message in the magazine, which is from a magazine that he’s just published.  He carries around lots of copies of it and gives one to them. He set part of the story on August 20, 2030 because it was an upcoming date, and as a bit of a commemoration of their time traveling adventures, since he knew this was the date Mushroom left from.

Niimi and Hose meanwhile visits Koizumi who is about to leave on a trip to buy some collectables.

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In the course of the conversation, it is revealed that there is some mystery to do with Soga that they haven’t told Komoto about.  Then Koizumi reveals that actually, he has the Time Machine!  He found it on the side of the road when he had a flat tire, about 12 years previously.  It’s broken, though, and is currently at his warehouse in a secure room.  He is too busy to go with Niimi to look at it, but he absent-mindedly writes down the security password for his friend to go and look himself: 6134.  He has done this on a copy of Ishimatsu’s magazine in red ink.  Niimi realises that Koizumi has just created the magazine that was found earlier (6134 reading as “HELP” when it’s upside-down), and lets out a bit “Whooooaaa!”  Excited, Koizumi cancels his trip.  They call Ishimatsu and tell him and those with them to meet at the warehouse.

(Somewhere in here, Aiko makes the phone call to her brother that we saw at the start of the movie).

The whole group (Komoto, Haruka, Niimi, Ishimatsu, Koizumi, Hose and Aiko) all meet at the Warehouse, where indeed, there is the Time Machine.

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It’s broken, in that the lever won’t go backwards and the year dial is stuck at “2”.  Hose attempts to examine it but it is Aiko who sees the problem, and is able to fix the damaged gears.  Hose is impressed by her brightness.

They also find a note attached to the Time Machine, which has every even-numbered year from 1972 to 2016 written and crossed off.  Koizumi reveals that it was in 2018 that he found the machine, right on the edge of town.  What has happened to Soga, they all wonder.

Aug 16, 1972

Back in 1972, Soga is despondent.  He has gone to the Sci-Fi club, but it is just ordinary housing that year, and he doesn’t know what to do.  Suddenly, the Time Machine shows up, with the young boy sitting on it, looking stunned.  Soga helps him off–it’s only been a few hours since he’s been gone–but when he tries to get back on he finds that the controls are broken now.  He can only go forward two years at a time.  He pulls out a piece of a paper, writes the year, and pushes forward to 1974.

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Aug 16, 1974

Arriving in 1974, Soga feels sick again, but he pulls himself together, crosses 1974 off of his list, and goes again…

Aug 20, 2030

Back in 2030, the group decide to go back to the day Koizumi found the Time Machine and look for Soga. They move the Time Machine back near the place where Koizumi found it, by a road on the edge of town, which they realise is the same place they found it in 2005 (that building is demolished by 2018). Ishimatsu, Koizumi and Niimi, eager to Time Travel again, volunteer, and set off.

sequel Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 8.47.56 PM

August 20, 2018

The three boys (well, men, now) arrive back in 2018 and look around.  After some time, they find the Time Machine (broken), a bit out of sight…but no sign of Soga.

Aug 20, 2030

As the group waits, some philosophical and metaphysical discussion ensues.  Hose talks about how dangerous it would be to the universe if two people or objects met each other at different points in their time stream.  The theory is that if they touched, there would be a release of energy that could destroy the universe.

They also talk about fate and free will.  They learned last time, ponders Haruka, that their actions were already part of history, so can they really do anything about finding Soga one way or the other?

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After thinking, Komoto decides that even if their actions are part of history, they still have to actually do them, so nothing is really any different.  Aiko hears all of this, and quietly comes to a point of resolve.

Suddenly the Time Machine shows up, without a rider.  On it is a note from Niimi – “Found the machine, no sign of Soga.  Please help!”  Komoto and Haruka are about to board when suddenly Aiko pushes herself on–she’s carrying the copy of the magazine with the “Help” message on it.  She announces that she’s going to 2005, and that she’ll see them later, and then she leaves!

September 19, 2005

Aiko arrives in the closet again, dropping the magazine she was holding (with the security passcode on it) in the process.  She begins to sneak around the school and the Clubhouse, obviously looking for somebody.

sequel Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 7.35.11 PM

Aug 20, 2030

Back in 2030, everyone is a bit stunned by Aiko’s actions.  But they are still worried about Soga and their other friends.  Haruka gets an idea–she knows where there is another Time Machine.

Returning to the Sci-Fi Club, Komoto, Haruka and Hose realise they just have to wait until Mushroom comes back with his version of the Time Machine.  Soon, he does, with his friends carrying it from across the field (where he left 2005 from).  Komoto and the others keep out of sight until they’ve replaced it inside and left.  Some of these scenes mirror the Prologue, revealing what was going on during the opening that seemed incomplete at the time.  Then, Komoto and Haruka prepare to go back to 2018.

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Before they go, Komoto and Haruka realize that they have to be back in about half an hour, as that’s how long it was before Mushroom showed up to recover his camera that he’d left behind.

September 20, 2005

“Meanwhile”, Aiko is still in the “present”, where she meets Ito, and sees the current versions of Niimi, Koizumi, and Ishimatsu, as well as Tamura.  She gets Ito to show her around and tell her about the campus, without revealing who she is; and being careful to keep out of sight of Komoto, Haruka and Soga.

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 9.38.49 PM

August 20, 2018

Komoto and Haruka find Niimi and the others wondering what to do in 2018.  In this process, Niimi eventually reveals to Komoto and Haruka the sad truth:  Soga never came home.  After he disappeared that day in 2005, none of them ever saw him again. Knowing they don’t have much time (because of the deadline of Mushroom coming back), Komoto helps the others to move Soga’s Time Machine to the position it needs to be in for the present-day Koizumi to find it (on the side of the road).  As they are finishing the job, Komoto tells the boys that he and Haruka will bring the Time Machine back to 2030 for Mushroom to use it, and come back and get them later.

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 9.48.23 PM

Niimi, Ishimatsu and Koizumi wait for the Koizumi of the day find it.  Just after he does and leaves again, a Time Machine  shows up behind them!  It has no rider, but contains a note which says “Pick up Aiko, Sept 20, 2005”.  Concluding the machine was from Komoto, they leave to follow the instructions.

September 20, 2005

Returning to 2005, Niimi, Ishimatsu and Koizumi sneak around the campus, keeping out of sight of their younger selves, and moving their Time Machine back to the Sci-Fi club. Aiko discovers that her Time Machine is the one that Komoto and the others take away to 2030…leaving her stranded!  But then she is found by the three men from the future.  Ito also sees them and realizes the truth.

sequel Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 9.03.09 PM

Aiko disappears with Niimi and the others before they are seen by Niimi from the present.  In the process, though, there is an accident, and Ito’s camera is broken.

August 20, 2030

Within minutes of each other, two Time Machines show up near the Sci-Fi clubhouse, just before Mushroom is about to enter:  one is Niimi, Aiko and the others from 2005, the other is Komoto and Haruka from 2018.  Komoto orders Aiko to take one of them away, anywhere, while he and the others move the other one to the precise position it needs to be in for Mushroom to find it.  Then they hide, and Mushroom takes it back to 2005 to recover his mother’s camera.

sequel Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 8.51.03 PM

August 20, 2018

Aiko has taken her Time Machine on the emergency run back to 2018.  She is surprised when she arrives to see another Time Machine directly in front of her, with the Old Lady sitting in it, looking at her, and with a barely conscious Soga sprawled on the machine as well.  The Old Lady pushes Soga off who lands with a thump.  While Aiko runs across to get him, the Old Lady disappears.

Aug 20, 2030

Shortly after Mushroom has returned from 2005 for the final time and left the Clubhouse, Komoto, Haruka, Niimi, Ishimatsu and Koizumi come out of hiding, waiting for Aiko to return.

sequel Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 7.36.07 PM

Just then the door opens and it’s the Old Lady, who is now revealed as Old Aiko.  Old Aiko is the inventor of the Time Machine (though she claims she had help) and was testing it by coming back to 2030 when she got separated from it and her past-brother ended up discovering it and using it.  Now she wants it back to go home again.

Somehow in this conversation, Komoto asks some awkward questions to Old Aiko privately and discovers that Haruka is not her mother.

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In fact, Old Aiko laughs at the idea…she knows her own mother.  Maybe her brother wouldn’t (he’s a bit vague) but Aiko wouldn’t make a mistake like that.

Young Aiko returns with the very sick Soga, who is dehydrated and nearly dead from all his time jumps.  Soga opts not to travel in time anymore, he will stay in 2030 (probably has no living parents in 2005, etc)–possibly motivated by the promise of romance between him and Young Aiko.

Old Aiko makes to leave on the Time Machine that Mushroom used, and she realizes the levers are getting a bit sticky.  Young Aiko sees (and says) that neither machine have been fixed by her yet, but the one that Old Aiko is on must be getting close to breaking.  That means there are still some things for her to do.  Old Aiko leaves, but not before making clear that she knows how to make it move around in space, not just time, and she can also read it’s movement history and knows where it’s been.

Aug 18, 2018

Old Aiko finds the very sick Soga, having fallen off the Machine shortly after his arrival.

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Aug 20, 2018

Repeat of the above scene where Old Aiko delivers the sick Soga to her younger self.

Aug 20, 2030

The others ask Young Aiko why she wanted to go back to 2005, and it’s revealed she wanted to see her parents.  He dad is a bit distant, and her mother died when she was only 10, and wanted to find her again.  Komoto is confused–Mushroom talked about his mother like she was still alive (he said she’d kill him if he lost her camera), but Aiko says that’s just how Mushroom always talks about her.

Hose has joined them all again.  He doesn’t know about Old Aiko, but he opts to give all his notes about the Time Machine to Aiko, in the hopes that she can do something with them someday.

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Haruka and Komoto bid goodbye to Soga and Aiko and Hose, just as they realize that Mushroom is returning.  Aiko distracts him while Soga and Hose slip out, and Haruka and Komoto leave on the Time Machine.  Mushroom just glimpses this as he returns inside the Clubhouse (as we saw at the beginning).

Sept 20, 2005

Returning home, Komoto and Haruka are reunited with their other friends.  They set the Time Machine to go to 2018 to be found by older Niimi and the others, and say goodbye to it forever.  The Caretaker, however, sees it disappear, and is actually overjoyed to finally know for sure that it exists and that he didn’t just imagine it all.

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Aug 20, 2050

The young boy–clearly now revealed to be the young version of the Caretaker–shows up in the future, seeing some high-tech stuff, and gets terrified.  Old Aiko appears in her machine next to him.  She helps him off his machine and onto hers, and sets the controls to take him back to 1972.  Then she gets onto her machine and leaves.

Sept 20, 2005

Ito laments her broken camera and Haruka gives her her old one (now that she has her new-fangled one from the future).  Komoto realizes that it is actually Ito who is Mushroom’s and Aiko’s mother.

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He is sad that this means she will die fairly young, but takes comfort in seeing her enjoy herself with the attractive Tamura.

Current-day Hose is nearby, not really aware of everything that is going on, but struggling with his sense of self-worth.  Haruka promises him that she is certain that his work will make a big difference someday.

Komoto and Haruka give a vague but encouraging report on the fact that Soga won’t be coming back, but that they will see him again someday.  The two of them are clearly established to be a couple now.

sequel Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 8.46.19 PM   Summer Time Machine Blues Plot Summary 11

Aug 21, 2030

Aiko is helping Soga settle in somewhere, when Soga’s old friends show up – Niimi, Koizumi, Ishimatsu, and even and older version of Komoto and Haruka!  They all are excited to see him again, though they take a moment to pay tribute to Aiko’s mother, their old friend Ito, who is now gone.

2070

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Old Aiko arrives back in the future.  She is greeted by her husband, Old Soga, and reveals gladly that their experiment was a success!

The End!

At least until the third part of the quadrilogy, Winter Time Machine Blues comes out, which is all about how something happens to the remote control in 2030, stressing Mushroom out because he won’t have it to give to his younger self on Christmas!  Hi-jinks and hilarity ensue.

Then, in Spring Time Machine Blues – The Final Chapter, we meet Komoto and Haruka’s daughter, who reveals that all the time travel is causing a breakdown of the space-time continuum.  History is eaten away by a wall of anti-matter, but not before it is revealed that the daughter eventually grew up to become the lady who ran the public bath in the first movie.

Anyway, what a cumbersome read, huh?  I’m sure there are some ways to streamline it, but that’s going to take a whole lot more work!

Or maybe, just maybe, all things considered, it’s better if none of this ever happens.

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