Kids Return

Kids Return (キッズ・リターン, Kizzu Ritān) is a 1996 Japanese film written, edited and directed by Takeshi Kitano. The film was made directly after Kitano recovered from a motorcycle wreck that left one side of his body paralyzed. After undergoing extensive surgery and physical therapy, he quickly went about making Kids Return amidst speculation that he might never be able to work again. The movie is about two high school dropouts, Masaru (Ken Kaneko) and Shinji (Masanobu Andō), who try to find a direction and meaning in their lives—one by becoming a yakuza lieutenant, the other by becoming a boxer.

Kids Return
Directed byTakeshi Kitano
Produced byMasayuki Mori
Yasushi Tsuge
Takio Yoshida
Written byTakeshi Kitano
StarringMasanobu Andō
Ken Kaneko
Leo Morimoto
Hatsuo Yamatani
Michisuke Kashiwaya
Mitsuko Oka
Yuuko Daike
Ryo Ishibashi
Music byJoe Hisaishi
CinematographyKatsumi Yanagishima
Edited byTakeshi Kitano
Distributed byOffice Kitano
Release date
  • July 27, 1996 (1996-07-27)
Running time
103 minutes

The music was composed by Joe Hisaishi, and the cinematographer was Katsumi Yanagishima.


Shinji and Masaru are high school delinquents, terrifying their classmates, stealing money, and setting their teacher's car on fire. After some of their victims hire a boxer to beat up Masaru, he decides to get revenge, and takes his shy friend Shinji along with him to a boxing gym. To their trainers' surprise, Shinji is naturally-talented at boxing and easily defeats Masaru in a sparring session. Masaru encourages his friend to keep going at it, and quits boxing, opting instead to join the yakuza. As Shinji focuses on becoming a successful boxer, Masaru aims to become a gang leader, and their paths diverge.

While the two of them climb to the top in their respective areas, Shinji looks for guidance from someone else after being left by Masaru, and this leads him into an unhealthy lifestyle that results in the end of his boxing career. Masaru's self-confidence and lack of respect for his yakuza boss also end his time with the yakuza, getting him kicked out. In the end, they are left with nothing, and as they ride their bike together in the schoolyard, Shinji asks if it is the end, to which Masaru replies that it is only the beginning.

Cast and rolesEdit


Kids Return
Soundtrack album by
Released26 June 1996

All compositions by Joe Hisaishi.

  1. "Meet Again" − 5:02
  2. "Graduation" − 1:07
  3. "Angel Doll" − 2:21
  4. "Alone" − 1:15
  5. "As a Rival" − 1:29
  6. "Promise... for Us" − 5:08
  7. "Next Round" − 1:28
  8. "Destiny" − 3:31
  9. "I Don't Care" − 2:18
  10. "High Spirits" − 2:03
  11. "Defeat" − 2:29
  12. "Break Down" − 3:46
  13. "No Way Out" − 2:51
  14. "The Day After" − 0:44
  15. "Kids Return" − 4:40


Critical receptionEdit

At the time of its release Kids Return was Takeshi Kitano's most successful film yet in his native Japan, which until then had been notedly much less enthusiastic about his films than international viewers.[1] Rotten Tomatoes gives this film a 100% rating based on review from five critics, with an average 7.8 out of 10.[2] David Wood, writing for the BBC, described it as "a tender, funny and melancholy affair which will come as a delight to ardent admirers after the recent Kikujiro." He gave the film 4 out of 5 stars.[3]


At the 1997 Japanese Academy Awards, Kids Return was nominated for three awards and won two of them.[4]

Award Category Recipient(s) Outcome
Japanese Academy Awards
Newcomer of the Year Masanobu Andō Won
Ken Kaneko Won
Best Music Score Joe Hisaishi Nominated
Blue Ribbon Awards
Best New Actor Masanobu Andō Won
Yokohama Film Festival
Best Film Takeshi Kitano Won
Best New Talent Masanobu Andō Won
Best Supporting Actor Ryo Ishibashi Won
Best Cinematography Katsumi Yanagishima Won


In 2013 a sequel to the film titled Kids Return: The Reunion was released, directed by the assistant director of the original, Hiroshi Shimizu. It is set ten years after the original and follows an older Shinji (Yuta Hiraoka) and Masaru (Takahiro Miura). The two of them meet after their failures in boxing and crime, respectively, and they work together to improve their situation. The new film was created with minimal input from Kitano.[1]


  1. ^ a b Schilling, Mark (10 October 2013). ‘Kids Return: Saikai no Toki (Kids Return: The Reunion)’. The Japan Times. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  2. ^ Kids Return (1996). Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  3. ^ Wood, David (23 October 2000). Kids Return, BBC. Archived from the original on 1 July 2009, on Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  4. ^ Kids Return (1996) Awards. IMDb. Retrieved 20 August 2018.

External linksEdit

  • Kids Return on IMDb
  • Kids Return at AllMovie
  • Kids Return (in Japanese). Japanese Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-07-19.