grub + travels + perspectives

Weekend Movies #11: Going Japanese

I went on full Japanese flicks marathon around the middle of this month! Early November was peppered with a lot of news that sent little ripples through my placid state of mind. It's nothing major, really. Just a few tweaks here and there. Anyway, as I've mentioned a handful of times before, reading manga has been one of my preferred past times recently. Reading manga consequently makes you watch the anime versions and/or its live action film adaptations. So here's a couple that I've watched a few weekends back: (There are some spoilers.)

1. Kimi ni Todoke. (From Me To You) I thoroughly enjoyed watching this film. A few months back, I just decided to download a bunch of shoujo/slice of life themed movies after sorting through different lists when you Google 'best romantic comedy Japanese films.' Hehe. I've seen Koizora prior to this and I have to admit I like Haruma Miura better here. Kudos to his acting chops for being able to pull it off, considering the characters are from different ends of the stick (I read that he's in Attack on Titan as well, maybe will watch it later). Kimi ni Todoke is a feel good, light-hearted film that I found myself watching after a stressful day at work. Mikako Tabe is just sooo cute! What I like about it too is that the usual exaggerated actions of manga/anime characters are executed well. (µ)

2. Kinkyori Ren Ai. Based from the shoujo manga penned by Rin Mikimoto, in a nutshell, is about a love story between an 18 year-old student and her 27 year-old sensei. Now that may raise eyebrows but it's actually a common storyline with mangas. The first one I've read with the same age gap angle was Hirunaka no Ryuusei, which I really, really loved. Anyway, back to the film. Tomohisa Yamashita (Haruka Sakurai) is such a looker, which I thought was great for the part; Nana Komatsu (Yuni Kururugi) was spot on with her deadpan, cold personality. And they look good on screen. They have great chemistry which makes it all the more believable, no awkwardness at all. Some points I do not like: no back story for Yuni's character and the ending. But overall, it's still a good film. (µ)

3. Ao Haru Ride. (Blue Spring Ride) For Ao Haru Ride, I was able to finish the manga before watching this live action version. If my memory isn't all wonky, the film was able to stay faithful to the manga for the most part. Though as someone who has read the manga, Masahiro Higashide was not the type I envisioned to play Kou Mabuchi. He doesn't look like a high schooler to me at all. But he got that bottling-my-feelings and standoffish behavior going on. Tsubasa Honda's (Futaba Yoshioka) acting was a bit too much for me. It was too anime. It felt a bit forced. I loved that the movie included some of my favorite bits in the manga (*heart heart*), and how there was focus on friendship and leadership. I wish there was more emphasis on Futaba and Touma's dating because it just felt too abrupt. Not a favorite but not too bad, all in all. (µ)

4. Kanojo wa Uso wo Aishisugiteru. (The Liar and His Lover) You know what's better than Takeru Sato as Kenshin Himura? Takeru Sato playing the guitar! Mainly watched this film because of him. This one is by writer Aoki Kotomi who also made the manga I am In Love with my Sister (Yes, incest. And yep, I did manage to read a few chapters LOL). It's also got that age gap theme again -- the girl's a 16 year-old high school student and the guy's a 25 year-old sound engineer, but this one revolves mainly around music and of course, romance. No incest but a lot of lying. Hahaha. The cinematography is great (lots of great shots of Japan!) and I was captivated by the slow build-up of the story. I personally think Sakurako Ohara (Riko Koeda) was so tiny, it appeared like she was much younger than 16. But that's just me. I also loved the music! (Never could fully comprehend Japanese yet but music's a universal language :P) This is different from usual Japanese pa-cute love stories! Takeru Sato's performance was great! (µ)

5. Ookami kodomo no Ame to Yuki. (Wolf Children) Initially, I thought this was actually a Ghibli film simply because of the elements of it. Kind of reminded me of Howl's Moving Castle a little bit (animation director Mamoru Hosada actually was almost part of HMC but had differences with SG, he set up his own studio). Wolf Children is a warm, charming family drama that's both real life and fairy tale. The elements of drama in the form of the family's everyday struggles are there but there are also tender scenes that enfolds even though there's an abundance of scenes that are silent and wordless. It leaves you a haunting feeling at the end of the film. I highly recommend it! (µ)

6. Summer Wars. This almost 2-hours feature by, again, Mamoru Hosada (same director/animator who made The Girl That Lept Through Time) is a trippy, candy-colored animation that's a cross between romantic comedy and the virtual reality; a dream world and actuality; end-of-the-world battles and struggles with your overly concerned family. A cyberthriller that tackles the pros and cons of the world that exists in the time of Internet. Those scenes that took place inside the Oz was just so colorful and vibrant! The story is energetic as opposed to the beautiful lulls of Wolf Children -- there's action, romance, suspense, drama and sci-fi! If you've enjoyed watching The Girl That Lept Through Time, you'll definitely have a grand time seeing this film. (µ)

If you have anything to recommend, please do sound off at the comments below! I would love to watch more Japanese films! :)