Okay, you’re familiar with my style by now right? In which I announce I’m on hiatus… and then an entry pops up. Similarly, this is kind of embarrassing ha since just an entry ago I wrote I’m not sure when I’ll be back to writing about other stuff, but I figured you’d be happier to see a new entry and I’m the only one who actually cares that I’ve just backfired on my own words! You can thank Heisui at My Drama Tea – I was catching up on her entries (she’s so funny!) and they spurred enough in me to write a short one right now, for your reading pleasure. Believe me, I’m trying to get myself back into the groove of writing about things again, namely on shows (and movies, as seen here) which have been piling up in my mental compartment. Plus no, I didn’t forget about my Japan trip…
I am adamant to finish my Movie Digest because I have thought about it all summer long so yes! It will be completed… Someday, but it will. Promise. This isn’t Part 2, rather the in-between because Part 2’s supposed to be on Korean movies. I’m fitting these two movies right here and only now because I watched it just last week during what else? My long-haul flight back, as usual. Thank you Cathay Pacific, for having my favorite guy Nishikido Ryo on board with me, first time ever! Such a pleasure.
Plus, I do think it’s kind of fitting that these movies are compiled together in an entry because they’re both unintentionally quirky, definitely offbeat and yet again – equal contenders for the mixed bag category.
Movie Digest: Summer at the Movies, Part 1.5 – JAPANESE SELECTIONS!
Kencho Omotenashi Ka (lit. Prefecture Government’s Hospitality Division) (2013)
Two words: Nishikido Ryo!
Ahem, seriously though: this movie is weird. It has the most boring synopsis and title for a movie ever, despite boasting a rather popular leading man and woman, as well as secondary characters. I won’t lie – if it wasn’t for the pairing of Ryo and Horikita Maki – who by the way, looks oh my goodness so gorgeous now; Nobuta who? – this show would never cross my mind, what more interest me to pick it up. But thanks to the casting, I gave it a go.
Verdict? Like I said, it’s weird. On paper it sounds like one of those Gambatte! themed show, those which are common in Jdramas, keeping in line with the Japanese’s never give up phrase and if you’re familiar with those kinds of shows, you’d know that they typically have zero romance. If there are any, they’re often only teased or hinted upon but are left open-ended or frustratingly unexplored. This movie however? There’s a part of me that feels like it’s really a rom-com or love story, but disguised as a quirky, typical Japanese fare. For one, there’s two romance and coupling – that of our main couple and the second one between Kengo Kora (my new favorite guy, I think he’s got appeal!) and Megumi Seki (whom I remember from the poorly written Jdrama Sunao ni Narenakute). Both couples are really, really cute and well worth the watch honestly, because while unfortunately no kisses occurred in the movie, there’s enough tenderness, cute and warmth in the characters and their relationships that have you rooting for them. Plus, this needs to be said – Ryo and Maki need to be paired up in a drama. Seriously. I don’t know about you but while watching the movie, I thought he showed genuine interest i.e. crushin’ on her…
On the non-romance front or rather the plot that circles around the couples, it’s pretty intriguing and interesting but I’ll say this: it’s nothing new. I think it’s really sweet of the director to try to revive this small-town (the same one in Osozaki no Himawari ~Boku no Jinsei, Renewal ~ !!) and after watching both this movie and that drama, I can see why there’s so much interest in highlighting this place on the Japanese map. Story-wise, it’s still a heartwarming story and one that I think is worth telling only because it’ll create awareness, gather attention and hopefully with that – propel impact. Having said that however, the plot and especially the tie-ins between characters are sometimes really, really random. I get it we need to connect the dots but… It’s rather weird, to me at least.
One thing I did like about the movie is that the characters don’t feel like Jdrama-caricatures, which is what I think of characters in episodic/formulaic Jdramas (note: I stand to be corrected) despite the premise being tonally similar. Ryo‘s salarymen character is relatable as that average guy who strives to make an impact best he can within his capabilities and means, while Horikita Maki‘s temp worker role also feels very relevant to the youth these days. Kengo Kora‘s character is one of those random ones, in my opinion – not that he’s unwelcome, but I don’t know, I’ve trouble connecting logic dots.
Overall though, I think this movie turned out to be a surprisingly feel-good one. I wouldn’t say highly recommended, but if you’re looking for something not entirely unforgettable and with some surprisingly swoony (okay, almost) budding romance between pretty faces with a meaningful enough back story – here’s for ya!
REAL – Riaru Kanzen Naru Kubinagaryu no Hi (2013)
Another mixed bag. Casting? Fantastic, or at least very intriguing match. Storytelling? Also intriguing.
It’s kind of ironic in the sense that where the above movie has the world’s most boring synopsis, REAL actually has a compelling one – enough to propel me to tune in. My quick Googling tells me the movie originated from a novel and I’m not surprised; it’s not terrible – not like Platina Data – but… truthfully and in my opinion at least, the execution still falls rather flat. The buildup was pretty good and really, I though the first two-thirds of the movie was engaging…. Okay, so I have a problem with the ending. It was… Lame? Not bad, but still lame. I quite like the pivotal game changer in the middle of the story but the ending… You’ve to see for yourself, I suppose. Plus, for the curious – there’s no doubt that Takeru Sato and Ayase Haruka are both extremely visually appealing folks but it saddens me to tell you that unfortunately, the chemistry between them is nothing to write home about.
In short, I wouldn’t strike REAL off completely, but I thought it’s not as good as it could’ve been.