Always: Sunset on Third Street
In 1958, with the impending completion of Tokyo’s TV broadcasting tower as a symbol of Japan’s escalating post-war economic recovery, rural schoolgirl Mutsuko (Maki Horikita) arrives from the provinces to begin her first job with Suzuki Auto. Initially impressed by meeting company “president” Norifumi Suzuki (Shinichi Tsutsumi), Mutsuko is shocked to discover her workplace is actually a shabby auto repair shop in Tokyo’s down-at-heel Yuhi district.
Suzuki is a bad-tempered employer but Mutsuko is welcomed by his wife, Tomoe (Hiroko Yakushimaru), and their impish 5-year-old son, Ippei (Kazuki Koshimizu). One of Ippei’s favorite haunts is a five-and-dime store managed by struggling serial writer Ryunosuke Chagawa (Hidetaka Yoshioka). Regarding now-successful writers like Nobel-prize winner Kenzaburo Oe, as overrated, Chagawa wants to be more than a hack churning out sci-fi yarns and selling cheap toys on the side.
When alluring newcomer Hiromi (Koyuki) opens a sake bar in the area, she gathers clientele quickly—in dramatically compressed manga style—but also finds herself lumbered with Junnosuke (Kenta Suga) the orphaned offspring of the bar’s previous tenant. Drunk, and smitten by Hiromi, Chagawa accepts custodianship of the boy.