Miko is a room launderer — someone who moves into an ‘undesirable’ home when a person has died in it, so that the real estate agent can later rent out the property without advising the tenants of what happened there. But, Miko (Elaiza Ikeda) isn’t your average 18-year-old, because she can see ghosts. So, when she arrives at the home of a punk rocker who took his own life, it comes as no surprise when the bleach-haired musician Kimihiko (Kiyohiko Shibukawa) makes an appearance.
He’s loud, charming and talks with a dialect that she finds difficult to understand, but Miko is willing to listen to his worries, and what led to his untimely death. At first, Miko doesn’t want to do anything more than just talk to the ghosts, give them a brief respite from their solitude. But, when her uncle Goro (Joe Odagiri) makes her move again, she meets Yuki Chikamoto (Kaoru Mitsumune), a murder victim who’s desperate to find her killer. Miko decides it’s finally time to act, and with the help of Yuki, Kimihiko, and her new neighbor Akito Nijikawa (Kentaro Ito) they will do whatever it takes to solve the case.
What follows is a fascinating -and surprisingly fun- adventure with an unlikely group of friends, which sees the reserved Miko learn to come out of her shell and find her purpose. It helps that the characters are all so charming, especially punk rocker Kimihiko who likes to joke around and find the positive in even the worst of situations. Shibukawa plays him as an energetic yet fragile soul, and through his character the story can shine a light on the unfortunate situation that many people face every day.
Elaiza Ikeda also does a brilliant job of bringing her character to life, giving her a vulnerability that both moves the audience and makes them root for her. Not only that, but her character development over the course of the film is also sublime, as she goes from silent shut-in to self-assured teen. Room Laundering is a film that lends itself to future stories, with its lead character acting as a gateway for lost souls to find peace by discovering what it is that keeps them here. So, it makes sense that the story isn’t over thanks to a sequel TV show in the works, and we can’t wait to see it.
Room Laundering screened as part of the 26th Raindance Film Festival.