The storyline of this movie was so interesting to me that at first I assumed it was a documentary. I’d never heard of anything like it, but it also isn’t something that would surprise me to hear. The movie takes place in Japan about a girl named Yuma who is a very talented manga artist with cerebral palsy, who works with a YouTuber who takes all the credit for Yuma’s work. Just that plotline was interesting enough to me, but it actually ended up focusing more on Yuma finding independence in multiple aspects of her life.
One of the aspects that it focuses heavily on is Yuma’s sex life. I actually really love that out of all the things going on in Yuma’s life (I won’t spoil it for you), the director chose to focus on this the most. It’s hard enough finding representation on-screen for differently-abled people (we don’t like using the term disabled), especially when it comes to exploring sexual experiences and relationships. Yuma ends up becoming really good friends with sex workers that help give her confidence and look after her.
Beyond the incredibly interesting plot points, there are a few things that I really loved about this movie. I’ve seen very few movies and TV shows with main characters who are differently-abled, one of my favorites being Atypical on Netflix (10/10 recommend). Even then, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one where the main character has a physical disability. While I think all differently-abled people definitely need more representation in this industry, people with physical disabilities are even less likely to have stories told about them. Another thing that I loved about this movie was how it broke stereotypes about sex workers. The people who most treated Yuma like any other “normal” person were the people she met in the sex work industry. I find it super important to change the narrative around people who do sex work and I love that that’s something I’ve seen more recently in the industry as well. One of my favorite moments of this movie is how the audience finds out why it was titled 37 Seconds.
I think a lot of times, people, including myself, underestimate the ability of differently-abled people to get by on their own. This topic was definitely addressed in Yuma’s relationship with her mother. While she had the help of some amazingly supportive friends along the way, I became very invested in Yuma’s independence in the different aspects of her life. This movie did not disappoint.