Monday, June 6, 2011

Hanamizuki [review]

Hanamizuki tells the story of two person over the span of 30 years, or 20...I'm not sure. But it begins with two strangers, studying in different schools (if I'm not mistaken as I watched this without subs, such a rare occasion though), but meet by chance or fate, however you want to look at it. Sae (Aragaki Yui) is an ambitious student who wishes to study abroad upon finishing high school. She pushes herself hard and meets Kouhei (Ikuta Toma) one day when she was late for a very important exam. Kouhei helps her by driving someone's little van, despite the fact that he doesn't have license yet, and they both got into a small accident, causing Sae to miss the exam.
Time passes and they get to know more of each other before finally dating. However, they both have different purpose in life. Kouhei hopes to inherit his father's business as a fisherman while Sae wants to explore the world. Sae finally leaves for New York to study abroad while Kouhei stays behind. They try to maintain long distance relationship which proves tough as time goes by.

And soon after, they break up because it is just too much to bear, especially when Kouhei's father loses their family fishing boat, causing them to also lose their main source or income. His father passes away due to heart attack, leaving Kouhei with a huge responsibility to support his family. Sae continues to pursue her ambition, graduates and finally finds a job. As to not spoil it further, as I already did...let's go to some topics.

Wow...I miss Ikuta Toma a bit especially after his role in Unubore Deka, which was hugely comedic. His role here is much more toned down and serious. For both leads, I have no complaint. They did good, if not better than I expected, especially Aragaki Yui. Honestly, I haven't watched much of her dramas or movies, I think the only one was Code Blue where she acted as a young doctor in training there. I always find that role was a bit too much to take, especially when she looks like a kid! Too young to be believable as a doctor. But then again, she did okay there. At least better than what Yamapi did. Here, her character is so much more believable, more realistic up to the point that I can see how she aged during the course of the movie. They mess around with her hairstyle and clothing, which is a good move to show maturity. She also took up English course before filming, as her character requires some English speaking. I think that helps at least not to make her pronunciation so awkward. Ikuta the same, though he doesn't look much different from when he first appeared, except maybe more tanned? Lol...
I really like this movie. It's also the first time I didn't feel like fast-forwarding at all for a Japanese movie, which is very very very rare. So, the pace is right and not too draggy. I think the whole 30 years thing is a major contributor to this reason. I am always curious of how they'll age, what they'll become in the future. And it's great to see that change and transformation of the characters. It's definitely a love story but it's not mushy mushy that turns me off, thank god for that. It's actually realistic how they look at love and also ambition in life. The soundtrack is good too, I should find the OST when I have the time. I give this 4/5.

And here are some scenes or takes that I really like. The director uses the scenery both in Japan and countries like Canada and New York to the max. So thumbs up to him.

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