The Door Into Summer (2021) poster

The Door Into Summer (2021)


(Natsu e no Tobira: Kimi no Iru Mirai e)

Japan. 2021.


Director – Takahiro Miki, Screenplay – Tomoe Kanno, Based on the Novel by Robert A. Heinlein. Production Company – Toho.


Kento Yamazaki (Soichiro Takakura), Kaya Kiyohara (Riko Matsushita), Naohito Fujiki (Pete-1), Natsuna Watanabe (Rin Shiraishi), Taizo Harada (Taro Sato), Tomoro Taguchi (Professor Junnosuke Toi), Hidekazu Mashima (Kazuto Matsushita), Kenta Hamano (Gota Tsuboi)


In 1995, Soichiro Takakura, an employee of Future Works Enterprises, has developed a prototype for a working robot, which he calls Pete. He is involved with Rin Shiraishi and signs over some of his shares in the company to her. However, Rin conspires with Future Works CEO Kazuto Matsushita and uses her block of shares to vote against Soichiro and claim his robot for commercial sale. Soichiro’s designs and prototypes are confiscated. A disconsolate Soichiro signs his remaining shares over to Riko Matsushita, the teenage daughter of his mentor, and decides to enter the Cold Sleep cryogenic suspension facility to be awoken in thirty years. He wakes up to be greeted by a working version of the Pete android. In trying to search out Riko, Soichiro finds that things have changed. In tracking down Professor Toi, Soichiro discovers that he has built a working time machine. With this, Soichiro conceives a complex scheme to go back in time to 1995 and set things right.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-88) is regarded as one of the grandmasters of science-fiction literature. During his lifetime, Heinlein produced numerous classic novels that include Have Spacesuit, Will Travel (1959), Starship Troopers (1960), Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966), I Will Fear No Evil (1970) and Time Enough for Love (1973), among a good many other works. Heinlein won the science-fiction community’s Hugo Award four times for his novels and was nominated on six other occasions. Heinlein’s works have adapted to film several times (see below for a listing of these).

The Door Into Summer (1957) is a Heinlein novel that was originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, before appearing in book form. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say the idea of The Door Into Summer conducted as a Japanese romance would have Heinlein turning in his grave but it is one that emerges as very different from would have been Heinlein’s conception of the story. Heinlein’s heroes are techno-geniuses and very red-blooded heterosexual men of action, whereas the hero of the film is a pretty boy in his twenties that is the standard mould for young Japanese leads (actor Kento Yamazaki comes from a background as a model).

That said, the film is surprisingly faithful to the plot of Heinlein’s book – the only major difference is that Heinlein had his hero frozen in 1970 to be revived in 2000 (both of which were future dates from when the book was written but past dates by the time the film was made), whereas here Kento Yamazaki comes from the past (1995) to be revived in the Near Future date of 2025. In every other respect, the film is exceedingly faithful to Heinlein.

Kento Yamazaki and Kaya Kiyohara in The Door Into Summer (2021)
Kento Yamazaki and Kaya Kiyohara – Robert Heinlein reconceived as a Japanese romance

Thereafter, as the film follows Heinlein, it develops out with considerable ingenuity and dexterity. The story follows on from what Heinlein conducted in all __All You Zombies__ (1959), filmed as Predestination (2014). In both stories, Heinlein makes the assumption that the past is fixed and what happened is what always happened – so neither here nor in __All You Zombies__ do you get time travellers venturing into the past and readily changing the present as you get in a good many Time Travel works.

Heinlein (and by extension the film) give us an ingenious unfolding plot. It is not unlike the way that Back to the Future Part II (1989) acts in regard to Back to the Future (1985) where you get one set of events told from a linear perspective and then the plot uses a time machine to snake around and have a whole other series of events occur in the margins of everything that previously occurred. All at the same time as being perfectly respectful of the way that causal continuity occurred, allowing the past to always have been the way it was. The result is a highly pleasing work of time travel convolutions that comes together with considerable logical ingenuity like an artfully constructed jigsaw.

Director Takahiro Miki has made some twenty films since 2010, almost all of which are teen romances and ones that often contain a music theme. Some of these come with genre elements, including My Tomorrow, You Yesterday (2016), a romance with a girl who travels backwards through time; Fortuna’s Eye (2019) about a man who can see through those who are about to die, and Tang (2022) where a divorced man adopts a robot.

Other Robert Heinlein works adapted to the screen include:– Destination Moon (1950) from Heinlein’s novel and screenplay about a realistically constructed Moon landing; Project Moon Base (1953), another work about a Moon landing from an original Heinlein screenplay; the animated tv mini-series Red Planet (1994) from Heinlein’s juvenile; the alien body snatchers film The Puppet Masters (1994) from Heinlein’s novel; Paul Verhoeven’s bludgeoning adaptation of Starship Troopers (1997); and the fine Predestination (2014) based on Heinlein’s classic time paradox short story __All You Zombies__ (1959).

Trailer here

Long Japanese trailer here (no subs)

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