This was is of those movies you don’t really want to watch but feel like you should. The titular seven days refers to the period dogs are kept in the government shelter before being killed (in Miyazaki prefecture specifically, but I think the period is pretty standard). So it was obviously not going to be a feel-good movie. I went with two dog loving friends, one of whom has a shiba adopted from our prefectural shelter. We were expecting to have a bit of a cry, but we really weren’t prepared for how quickly the film moved into “dear god someone save that dog” territory. The entire cinema was in tears literally five minutes in, with the first dog dying within two minutes. It was utterly wrenching (don't worry, the trailers are relatively free from "I hate the human race" moments).
My local Board of Education has been promoting the film to schools and there has been an accompanying poster campaign about being prepared for a life-long commitment to a pet before deciding to keep one etc. This is sorely needed in Japan. I follow a no-kill privately run shelter called “Heart Tokushima” on facebook and although it is cheering to see the wonderful work they do, the sheer number of cats and dogs who come through and the number that the local government shelter kills rather than allowing them to take is heartbreaking.
As a movie I don’t think ひまわりと子犬の７日間 was particularly well made. The plot is a vehicle for the message, and the story line suffers as a result. Nevertheless, it wasn’t terrible and the message is important enough that I’m happy to overlook the slightly torturous script. You can see some of the additional campaigning for shelter dogs accompanying the movie on the official website.