Film Review: Kimi ni Todoke / From Me to You (2010)

Blue Skies and Cherry Blossoms: Miura’s Spring Awakenings

(continued)

by Ender’s Girl

(Read Part One: my Koizora review)

Kimi ni Todoke: Nice and Over Easy… (But Too Easy?)

The Cast:
Tabe Mikako, Miura Haruma, Renbutsu Mikako, Netsuna, Arata, Katsumura Masanobu

Directed by Kumazawa Naoto / NTV and Toho, 2010

In a Nutshell:
The last four decent students at West High attempt to draw out the class loner from her antisocial shell. Friendship, self-confidence and love bloom under the cherry trees!!!

(SpoilLert: Yep, there’s quite a few!)

If Koizora was the Ultimate Makjang Fantasy, then Kimi ni Todoke (From Me to You, lit. Reaching You) would be the Ultimate Shoujo Fantasy – not that this makes it a bad thing, not at all. I’ll take the most jejune of shoujo fiction over the obscene little sideshow that was Koizora any fureaking day of the year, thank you very much.

When this much-awaited live-action adaptation of the popular manga hit theaters in 2010, Miura Haruma could not have chosen a better post-Koizora palate-cleanser for fans clamoring to see him in another romantic-lead role – although this time, his character was a complete about-face from his soulful-cad-secretly-dying-of-too-much-hair-bleach-cancer in Koizora. If his Koizora character, Hiro, was the boy you loved to hate, then his Kazehaya Shota in Kimi ni Todoke was that boy in school, Mr. Perfect, the Golden Boy himself. (And forgive my inner geek-dork, but at this point I’m tempted to add that bit from the Voltron series opener: “…loved by good, feared by evil!” That’s Kazehaya-kun for you! lol) So I don’t see why fans of the original manga would ever object to Miura essaying the role of Kazehaya-kun; judging from the character’s description, the decision to cast the Most Agreeable-Looking Idoru Under 30 was right on the money.

[Sidebar: It’s quite interesting how Miura so convincingly embodies both the Ultimate Shounen Hero (in the Bloody Mondays) and the Ultimate Shoujo Heartthrob (Kimi ni Todoke). Could his idealized good looks and wholesome, sincere vibe have anything to do with it? Still, points for unisex appeal. *ka-ching!* ]

And it isn’t just Miura that’s easy on the eye in this movie. Props to the filmmakers for putting together such a visually charming package, from the pleasantly subdued palette of muted tans and neutrals to the solid, steady camera frames. I especially loved the high-angle shots of Kazehaya (Miura) and Sawako (Tabe Mikako) at the zebra crossing, both looking up at the cherry tree, with the white painted lines on the asphalt road a lovely contrast to the delicate snowy pink of the sakura petals above them. Very nicely styled.

That said, it’s the plot of Kimi ni Todoke that I’m not too crazy about. Don’t get me wrong – as far as teenybopper romances go, this one’s a smooth and pleasant ride. But is it a tad too smooth and pleasant? If Koizora portrayed Puppy Love at its most rabidly homicidal (as I said in my Koizora review), then this film seems to show Puppy Love at its most… spayed and neutered, lol.

For one, the major “conflicts” that buttress Kimi ni Todoke aren’t so much real conflicts as juvenile misunderstandings hyperbolized for effect. Such “conflicts,” which may have worked well in the source manga and the anime adaptation, simply don’t translate well to film: They fail to pass cinematic muster, being too trivial to hold up in the more expansive, drama-charged narrative of a mainstream movie, but still too contrived even for a quieter, slice-of-life kind of film. The so-called conflicts also cut up the movie into shorter episodes (each dealing with its own “conflict”), but this treatment falls short of bringing the film into cohesion. A far more suitable medium would’ve been television, and with Kimi ni Todoke as a ten-episode Jdorama. (Now WHY didn’t Miura just do a Kimi ni Todoke renzoku instead of that 2011 classroom morality play he eventually wound up in? ‘Twould’ve been more age-appropriate, too.)

Conflict-not-a-conflict # 1: Weird girl likes cute boy… but does he like her back???

I can see why the Kimi ni Todoke source material was a resounding hit with female readers, especially teens – I mean come on, what girl wouldn’t want the cutest, most popular boy in school to be secretly in love with her all along? Such is the scenario on which the film is premised: High school heartthrob tries his darnedest – though not always successfully – to reach out (*ka-ching!* there’s the title for you!) to the class misfit. Which really shouldn’t be much of a challenge… except that said misfit happens to be the most ill-discerning, socially maladroit human being in Japan!!! (*ka-ching!* there’s conflict for you!)

I normally don’t mind these opposites-attract, “handsome & popular guy falls for self-esteem-challenged weirdo” (or, in The Breakfast Club terminology, “Prince falls for Basket Case”) kinds of tropes. But it all felt too… I dunno, easy-peasy. It turns out that Kazehaya-kun has liked our heroine, Sawako, from Day 1 – now where’s the challenge in that?

Take their initial meeting on the first day of school, when Sawako spots this new boy in their West High uniform standing at a crossroads and puzzling over directions in his hand. She diffidently points him in the right way, and he walks up to her, smiling warmly in relief – but uh-oh, red flag moment here – his gaze lingers a few beats too long on her bashful little face while the camera lingers a few beats too long on the two of them standing on the zebra crossing – just in case it hasn’t occurred to viewers by now that they! are! the! OTP!

And to driiiive home the point for the rest of us, the boy plucks a stray sakura petal from Sawako’s hair – and it’s perfectly heart-shaped!!! what could this mean, pray tell??!?!? – and they engage in more meaningful eye-locking before he spots his homies down the street. OH COME ONE. Seriously??? A heart-shaped petal??? The entire money shot is pretty, yes, poetic, yes, but how believable is it? Not bloody much. In fact, not bloody at all.

This First Meeting scene, whose significance in both setting the tone of the film and in hooking the viewers’ interest I need not underscore, could have been great – had it been handled with less of the staginess and blatant manipulation. Clearly, the encounter was designed more for viewer fanservice than anything else. Who stands in the middle of the effin’ road staring moony-eyed at someone they’ve just met – for a full minute??? And with those (heavy-handedly) auspicious heart-shaped petals swirling around them??? You’d just as soon expect the heavens to burst open, discharging choirs of cherubim, or, in the same grand manner, for a sword wedged in a block of granite to magically appear before them with a mighty poof! *rolleyes*

I don’t like my OTPs to be railroaded into OTP-ness before the ten-minute mark, goshdarnit. I want their relationship to grow on me – organically please, without the director and editor screaming into my ears, “Look at those two, ne?!!?! *poke, poke* Look at how they can’t keep their eyes off each other, ne?!?!! *nudge, nudge* Notice the byoootiful metaphor of the kokoro-shaped petal, ne?!?!! *prod, prod* This means looove, ne?!?!!” – Please. I would’ve had a much easier time getting into the moment if Kazehaya had simply… thanked Sawako with a quick smile before heading down the road. Maybe he would’ve spared her a second glance over his shoulder, briefly taking in her bowed head and thick curtain of hair – but out of curiosity or mild interest, and nothing more. She shouldn’t matter to him at this point. Not yet. (I’ll pretend the silly heart petals never happened.)

I know there’s no point in trying to rewrite the bloody script, but I just wanted to get that little revisionist moment off my chest. And besides, even if (in a perfect world, ha!) we had gone with my version, it still would’ve fit neatly with what happens next in the chronological order of the plot, which is only revealed in flashback later in the film: Kazehaya having joined his friends down the road turns and takes one long look at Sawako, and it’s the exact moment that she’s smiling at the cherry tree. It still shouldn’t be love at first sight for Kazehaya, but now he’d be able to gaze more openly – and thoughtfully – at Sawako while feeling the stirrings of attraction towards the strange, shy girl with the incongruously disarming smile.

What follows in the film is a montage of school vignettes of Sawako crushing on Kazehaya from afar while he gets fawned over by their classmates for being – oh, perfect: She waters the campus flowerbeds, surreptitiously watching Kazehaya play football in the adjacent field… She tinkers with her chemistry lab experiment, peeking through the tripod legs at Kazehaya as he jokes around with a table of admirers – and I LIKE how his eyes ever so briefly flicker in her direction – squee! – before he turns his attention back to his posse… (I would’ve appreciated more of these subtle clues that convince you that the odd loner girl shunned by the whole class has indeed caught the resident heartthrob’s fancy.)

Other vignettes, this time from Kazehaya-kun’s POV: He walks past the cafeteria window and notices Sawako sorting out bottles for recycling… He engages in small talk with his chums but he’s really watching her tidy up the hallway, mop and pail in hand. And she obviously never notices him noticing her – which is the whole point of the story anyway, for about 4/5 of the film. And like I said, this formula had great potential to succeed had the execution been better, if only the director had let the tension between Sawako and Kazehaya build naturally and unhurriedly instead of dishing it too much, too soon. Let it simmer, let it grow… make them WANT it, dammit! (And make ME want it, too!)

And when I speak of wanting my unresolved sexual tension (UST), I don’t mean the “Argh, I can’t stand being around you in class, ‘coz all I REALLY wanna do, is EAT you… *sparkles* …nomnomnom” variety, but the kind that is predicated on Kazehaya’s growing awareness of Sawako and her seeming disinterest in making friends with anyone in their class – including him, and in spite of his repeated attempts to – *ka-ching!* – reach out to her. Rather than Kazehaya expressing frank admiration for Sawako from the get-go, I would’ve wanted a more nuanced development of their relationship – marked perhaps by a friendly smile in the hallway, or a casual greeting before the bell. Adding texture to their dynamic would be Kazehaya’s puzzlement at Sawako’s mulish unsociability in stark contrast to her quiet helpfulness around school and thoughtfulness towards others – thus intriguing him further and stoking his attraction. Now… that’s the way aha-aha-I would’ve liked it.

Conflict-not-a-conflict # 2: Weird girl’s weirdness alienates her from classmates, who see her as a walking jinx!!!

Which brings us to the character of Kuronuma Sawako, named “pleasant child” by her family but dubbed “Sadako” since primary school for her perceived resemblance to the girl from The Ring. Though kind and helpful by nature, it’s her excruciating shyness and low self-esteem that keep her walled off from… civilization. Tabe Mikako adequately channels the emotional isolation of her character, although I wish she didn’t have to glare balefully at everyone ALL the time – as if the actress were trying too hard to play up the supposedly “scary” aspects of the character. (Maybe she got the scare tactics from The Ring and The Eye all mixed up, hyuk hyuk hyuk.)

Most of all, I don’t get what turned Sawako into this weird little zombie when she had such a happy and comfortable family life. I mean, it’s not like her dad (Katsumura Masanobu) was some abusive drunk or a neglectful absentee parent; he was just a regular chap who doted on his daughter. Plus, you can’t possibly find a mean bone in someone who: (a) played cymbals for a local orchestra; and (b) was Egami from Hero (lol. but really!!! It’s – EGAMI!!! hahaha Team Josai 4vr!!!!❤❤❤ ).

So with such well-adjusted and loving parents – why the personality disorder? Was it just because of the “Sadako” moniker – and that damaged her for life? Did those bullyboys from primary school crush her spirit forever, did they? Boo, not convincing at all. I mean, you were KIDS. GET OVER IT. Sawako’s present personality simply didn’t check out with her backstory. (This sort of inconsistency begs comparisons to Kotani Nobuta, Horikita Maki’s character in Nobuta wo Produce. At least Nobuta had to put up with a mother who was never there and a step-dad who coldly rejected her as a child.) Sorry, but there simply isn’t enough background angst in Sawako’s home life to sufficiently explain her sociopathic behavior.

In the same vein, I could NOT for the life of me grasp why this film makes such a big effin’ deal over how “scary” Sawako looks, and how the students are in constant freak-out mode over the “Don’t look into Sadako’s eyes or you’ll be CURSED!” urban legend/scuttlebutt – an unfunny running gag that wears thin right from the start. I mean… GHADZ. How DUMB are these kids, anyway? I’ve seen five-year-olds with more common sense. I’m not pooh-poohing bullying or peer exclusion here – because they’re valid realities in any school society, I get that. My beef is with Sawako’s classmates ostracizing her because they actually fear her and believe she has the ability to supernaturally hurt them, and not because she’s simply weird or different (as was the case in Nobuta wo Produce).

It’s bad enough that all the kids in school (except Kazehaya-kun, natch!) blow the “Sawako = Horror Girl” angle completely out of proportion, but for their homeroom teacher, Pin (Arata), an adult and a member of the freaking faculty, to readily buy into the BS – is really beyond silly. I don’t know if it’s bad acting, bad writing or bad directing (or all of the above), but the character didn’t even seem to be humoring his students’ superstitious fears in an ironic, tongue-in-cheek way (à la Catherine, the ball-busting vice-principal in Nobuta wo Produce) – he just seemed equally spooked by Sawako’s reputation. Which is – all together now – STOOPID. This, coupled with his unhealthy interest in the private affairs of his students, and that off-putting overgrown-kid-channeling-random-Jdorama-funnyman shtick, made Pin my least liked minor character in the story.

Conflict-not-a-conflict # 3: Weird girl makes new friends, but a misunderstanding gets in the way!!! And their reputations might suffer if they continue to be her friend!!!

Enter the Superfriends composed of Kazehaya-kun, his childhood tomodachi Ryu (Aoyama Haru) and Chizuru (Renbutsu Misako), and Chizuru’s BFF Ayane (Natsuna), who openly induct Sawako into their clique – evil classmates be damned! – and show her the kindness and acceptance she never experienced from her peers. It was a relief to find all four characters genuinely likable without being clichés; the actors also did a good job in bringing out their distinct personalities as well as the dynamics of their easy, omg-that’s-SO-high-school-in-a-good-way! camaraderie.

The slice-of-life scenes where the Superfriends hang out with Sawako – bonding over ramen, walking their bikes home, or teaching her the rudiments of football – captured the high school feeling really well, much like the after-school vignettes from the 2006 anime film The Girl Who Leapt Though Time. A nice bonus was the development of the Beta Couple’s own arc – Ryu and Chizuru are childhood pals, Ryu’s been in love with Chizuru since forever BUT she has the hots for his older bro… ohnoes! – which provided a more mature and realistic counterpoint to Kazehaya and Sawako’s nebulous non-relationship. (Too often I found myself wishing the movie had been about Ryu and Chizuru instead. By far the cooler and more riveting couple, sorry.)

But the “conflict” here is rather silly – really a non-issue, a case of miscommunication blown out of proportion and drawn out longer than it should. Sawako distances herself from Ayane+Chizuru and Kazehaya because nice, normal people like them shouldn’t be fraternizing with freaks like herself, or her unpopularity might rub off the two. *rolleyes* And it all gets resolved, in perfect accordance with Shoujo Canon, by a big confrontation scene in the girls’ restroom (gotta have at least one of those!), where Sawako stoutly defends Ayane and Chizuru against the school’s token Mean Girls (ah, token biyatches – gotta have those, too! lol).

This confrontation scene (conveniently) manages to achieve three things at once: Ayane and Chizuru’s reputations are restored, the salacious rumors about them debunked; the Mean Girls, humbled and moved by Sawako’s loyalty to her friends, experience a change of heart; and Ayane+Chizuru patch things up with Sawako, leading to a teary-eyed (but sweet) group hug on the rooftop (but – what’s this? – while Kazehaya’s beaming proudly at them from the ground – WTF? was this really necessary?). But all’s well that ends well in Shoujo Land, no matter how pat or manipulative the resolution. *rolleyes*

Conflict-not-a-conflict # 4: Weird girl’s frenemy schemes to steal cute boy from her!!!

Oh yes, there’s the token Frenemy too, a sneaky little vixen named Kurumi (who weirdly resembles a sluttier, over-accessorized Aragaki Yui – so I took to calling her “Evil Gakky” lol – made her scenes with Miura funnier too, in a wink-wink way). Kurumi tries (unsuccessfully) to supplant Sawako in Kazehaya-kun’s affections using  sabotage and emotional blackmail. *yawn* Ayane and Chizuru (aka the Powerpuff Girls) soon suss out Evil Gakky’s game, but when they confront her about it before Sawako, the little soft-hearted (and soft-headed?) weirdo takes the high road and refuses to expose Evil Gakky’s schemes before Kazehaya-kun and the whole world, instead showing kindness! and mercy! *rolleyes* So they can ALL BE FRIENDS at the end of the day!!! Classic.

At this point I wondered if the Kimi ni Todoke storyboard was lifted straight from “The Little Survival Book of Shoujo Crisis Management” with the following chapter titles: This is how you get a guy to like you without really trying!!! This is how you handle class disputes!!! This is how you cope with peer rejection!!! This is how you defend your friends from gossipmongers!!! This is how you deal with evil bitch girls and bullies!!! And at all times, just remember to be yourself!!! (hahaha)

If this sort of treatment worked for starry-eyed fifteen-year-olds, all I can say is… I’m not fifteen anymore, lol. I now have little patience for movies that – very patronizingly, if I may add – gloss over the complexities of adolescent peer/self-image issues by purveying unrealistically simple, stop-gap remedies leading to feel-good conclusions. So that at the end of the day, the characters can pat each other on the back saying, “We’ve learned our lesson, all’s well again, move along now people!” But then again, let’s look at the bright side – AT LEAST Sawako didn’t get: (a) deflowered by her boyfriend; (b) raped by goons; (c) preggers; (d) dumped by a terminally ill boyfriend who didn’t want her to see him die; (e) all of the above. Hahahahahaha *drinks*

Conflict-not-a-conflict # 5: Cute boy finally confesses his true feelings, but weird girl is too scared to take the plunge!!!

Kazehaya and Sawako’s romantic moments (no matter how one-sided) aren’t exactly groundbreaking and they didn’t sweep me off my feet, but they’re sweet and cute enough – especially when Kazehaya-kun steps up his game (‘coz the girl just can’t take a hint! *rolleyes*). Take the night the whole class go on a Courage Hike (some kind of team-building activity Kazehaya organizes, but really an excuse to spend a little alone time with the girl he likes. Kazehaya-kuuun you sly one youuu!). He and Sawako find themselves alone on a forested hilltop, although she largely remains impervious to his little overtures that would undoubtedly have gotten noticed had they been directed at someone who could actually READ SOCIAL CUES, DUH.

In a later scene, Kazehaya sticks up for Sawako (very sweet of him, too) when their classmates set them up on a date as “punishment” for Kazehaya’s last-place finish at the Courage Hike (which was deliberate anyway – he stayed behind for Sawako). (And, um, it’s nice to see Kazehaya telling his classmates off without screaming death threats at them and then dragging Sawako to the library for a little… afternoon delight, hahaha. E.G. will you STOP it with these Koizora references??? hahaha)

Sawako’s naiveté mixed with her insecurities (i.e. “What can a guy like you ever see in a freak like me?” *scuffs ground with shoe* *shambles off to… go water the flowerbeds. or something*) only blind her to Kazehaya’s intentions and prevent their relationship from making ANY kind of headway. And sometimes it can be endearing – like that afternoon when Kazehaya starts to confess his feelings under the cherry tree but she stiffly cuts him off, adding how much she admires and respects him as a human being (lololol) – which ain’t exactly the most encouraging thing to hear if you’re laying your heart bare to the girl you like, teehee.

Other times, however, all that innocence and self-doubt will make you grate your teeth and do God-knows-what-else, and you’ll want very badly to go over and thwack Sawako on the head with enough force to shame a daytime Kdrama ahjumma. This is especially true watching Kazehaya’s Big Confession Scene – yes, the one where he scores two tickets (two!!! meaning it’s a DATE, silly Sawako!) to a Christmas Eve show at the planetarium (planetarium!!! meaning he’s just DYING to try all those star/angel/heaven pickup lines on you, silly Sawako!). But poor, poor Kazehaya-kun!!! Courting Sawako is like courting a two-year-old: you have to sit her down and patiently explaining such complex concepts as “boy”… “boyfriend”… “crush”… “love”… “special feelings”… and “date.” (For goodness’ sake, WHY couldn’t this girl just have been more NORMAL??? *bangs head on cherry tree trunk*)

And the Best Scene Evar of the whole movie? Let’s just say it’s the scene involving a near-empty (but not quite!) gymnasium, an orange cone marker, and one very, very jealous boy (teehee!!!). It’s also the one time during the film that actually got me of my seat screaming, “YEAH. BABY, YEAH!!!” *double fist-pump* *body-slam throw pillows* (lol) Though very brief, it’s intense, it’s charged, it’s hardcore! Saints alive, finally we get A MOMENT that shoots past the fuzzy cuteness of earlier moments and straight into CrazySexyLove territory. Oh yes, Kazehaya KAN!!! (lol)

But it doesn’t end there!!! The gym scene flows into this lovely intermezzo on the soccer field. (And he’s still kind of mad at this point – driven mad with jealousy all right, woohoo! – so all the better for everyone, woohoo!) And as for me, well… time also stopped during this scene, and I remember saying in equally slow measure while wiping my drool off the remote: “Guhhh… hey Miura, why yo’ grip so tight? Guhhh… hey Miura, why yo’ hair so soft? Guhhh… hey Miura, why yo’ cheekbones so chiseled? Guhhh… hey Miura, why yo’ sparklin’ in tha sun?” (errr scratch that last one, lololol)

This movie being the quintessential shoujo romance, expect a climax that soundly delivers those moments of adolescent suspense (i.e. “Aieeee, will they or won’t they get together on Christmas Eve???”); heartwarming father speeches (with an especially poignant symmetry given the circumstances of Sawako’s birth; very nicely done); and lest we forget, that obligatory soupçon of sappiness – particularly when the Telltale Heart-shaped Sakura Petal makes a surprise appearance inside someone’s pocketbook one New Year’s Eve, lol. But overall a satisfactory ending, and one of the better-edited sequences of the film.

Ah, well, those were my issues with Kimi ni Todoke. True-blue manga fans far more steeped in shoujo canon than I will probably find my gripes negligible or plain unwarranted. For the record, I really, truly wanted to fall in love with the story and characters, but I also hoped to find that emotional heft underneath the feel-good fluff, something thematically deeper and more resonant than what was being served. So forgive my frustration at finding this movie a little too benign and – at times – juvenile and shallow for my liking. (If I set my expectations too high for Kimi ni Todoke, blame it on Nobuta wo Produce and its pitch-perfect depiction of adolescent life. Perhaps that show has spoiled me rotten, but it also made me realize that high school plots don’t always have to be all fuzzy frivolity *coughKimi ni Todokecough* or morally (and intellectually) bereft soap operas *barfKoizorabarf*, lol.)

Even the character of Kazehaya-kun, for all his choir-boy goodness, comes across as too idealized and blandly perfect to be real. I don’t mean to say that he HAD to be a pathologically messed-up prick in order to be interesting (*cough Hiro cough*), but I would have wanted a meatier portrayal of Kazehaya that went beyond the sunny smile and genial disposition – in other words, something that added texture and emotional traction to an otherwise two-dimensional vanilla character. Oh well. At least Miura’s performance in this movie didn’t make me want to down a whole carboy of peroxide or commit random acts of indecency in a school library, hahaha. So, points for improvement! You’ve come a long, long way, Miura my dahhling!!! Lulz

My criticism notwithstanding, Kimi ni Todoke is still for the most part a charming two-hour trip to Pleasantville – and for once, it’s nice to watch a teen romance that isn’t a train wreck. Anyway I’m probably just carping over nothing, because we all know that this movie could have turned out so, so, sooo much worse. Again, look at the bright side – at least no unborn babies, teenage uteri, or bottles of hair bleach were hurt in the making of this movie… which is MOAR! than I can say for *other* productions out there… (I’m looking at you, Koizora!!! I’m laughing at you, Koizora!!! HAH HAH HAH HAH)

Grade
Artistic & technical merit: B
Entertainment value: B-
Overall: B

***
Photo credits: aigoo-iichan.blogspot.com, angryanimebitches.wordpress.com, asian-eiga.blogspot.com, asianmediawiki.com, ciachiaa.blogspot.com, club.ados.fr, darling79.blogspot.com, fadedshadow.xanga.com, flickr.com, fymh.tumblr.com, fyifamilies.com, gatopardos.com, hyorina.tumblr.com, jfilm.tumblr.com, jktcraze.blogspot.com, maypang-amin.com, micacola.glogster.com, mylot.com, m-y-m1nd.blogspot.com, nikpi-0409.blogspot.com, nipponcinema,com, pom16.multiply.com, randomc.net, secretbear @ polyvore.com, singlelittlethingofmine-evelynwann.blogspot.com, ssangcheo.tumblr.com, whattamessgurl.wordpress.com, yousaytoo.com

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32 Comments on “Film Review: Kimi ni Todoke / From Me to You (2010)”

  1. gieasakura Says:

    LOL! this made my friday.

  2. MaAkusutipen Says:

    Thanks for the review. I have been reading the manga and as for most manga to movie productions, they did not change anything but upped the ante of the fanservice. Well, as with all of these productions, they are cash cows. Like with what you said, it would have been better if the cinematic version re-arranged things to make the Sawako-Kazehaya become more organic rather than be Black and White Shoujou fantasy

  3. kaigou Says:

    I had read some of the manga, then watched the anime, and then saw the live-action film. Miura does a great job of channeling the character’s physical quirks (from the anime-version) — like his goofy smile followed by covering up his smile with a bit of embarrassment, then a quick glance to see Sawako’s reaction. That kind of thing spoke quiet volumes in the anime about where his heart was heading, but… it never felt like he’d liked her “from the beginning” so much as maybe was intrigued by her, somewhat attracted to her, and responded to her/clicked with her.

    The movie, in contrast, just felt (script-wise) very rushed. Like, they had to get in issues A, B, and C, and as much of D and E as they could, in a format that could’ve barely fit A and B, if done properly. There just isn’t enough time to cover that much, in two hours. The opening segment in the movie, with that stupid cherry blossom, made me react same as you — the whole anvil o’ luuuurve, KABAM. While the anime version felt more like a random and incidental meeting, where her impromptu unguarded smile startled Kazehaya, and I got the sense that was when he started thinking maybe there was something more to this girl.

    As for Sawako… some people are simply terminally, even pathologically, shy. It doesn’t have to be trauma; it can just be the personality. Sawako seems straightforward and honest, but also unbelievably shy. (Unlike NwP, where I got the sense the antisocial shyness was a result of trauma, in some way.) What I liked about the original story was that the mangaka taking the usual bullying of the quiet kid — the whole Ringu thing — and flipping it around: Sawako actually feels bad because she *can’t* live up to that expectation. That kind of turnaround wouldn’t have worked, if the torment had been some other kind (like, what, apologizing because you don’t have more lunch money? or aren’t actually a slut? or however else kids will be cruel).

    The anime & manga versions work because those are formats with the time to develop the story, casually, slowly, with plenty of focus on the little things. The movie didn’t have that, and the story just couldn’t be compressed and still hold up. It has some nice touches, but overall, I much prefer the anime version.

    Plus, the anime/manga version has Sawako reacting to Kazehaya’s eventual confession with a startled, “that’s so mature!” …which I really *liked*. She’s mature enough, herself, to recognize that she’s not quite ready to jump into a romantic endeavor. She puts off Kazehaya because she needs time to process, at her own speed (and he does sulk a little, understandably, but mostly respects her request). I liked that she wasn’t the usual shojo twit leaping at “let’s go out” like this was the ultimate validation — the “I’m a real girl, because I have a boyfriend!” high school crap. Sawako moves at her own pace, and she’s cautious but she makes her own decisions, including in terms of her heart. That’s actually pretty rare, from what I’ve seen of shojo manga. The movie blipped past that too fast, though, so she just sounds kind of childishly panicked.

    Although the movie did reflect the other versions, where Kazehaya doesn’t fall for the manipulations but goes right to the source and asks Sawako directly. I’m willing to take a shojo hero who opens his mouth and freaking asks, right up, over any of those other shojo-hero morons who suffer in noble (or asshattish) silence. He might not have many flaws (although to be fair, we mostly see him through Sawako’s eyes, and she doesn’t look for anyone’s flaws), but that idiotic believing-what-you-overhear misunderstanding is one flaw I’d pay money never to read/watch again, and I liked Kazehaya ten times more because he jumped right over that trope.

    Then again, I’d probably watch Miura read a freaking grocery list and still find something to enjoy. I mean, I watched both seasons of Bloody Monday, and at least a grocery list would have a plot that makes sense.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thanks for your insightful analysis of the anime/manga and live-action, it makes for a much richer discussion. ^^;; It also gives a more complete picture of the plot points and character motivations that the movie missed. I had an “aaahhh!” moment at every paragraph, lol😉

      The anime & manga versions work because those are formats with the time to develop the story, casually, slowly, with plenty of focus on the little things. The movie didn’t have that, and the story just couldn’t be compressed and still hold up. It has some nice touches, but overall, I much prefer the anime version.

      Oh, how I wish they had turned KnT into a dorama instead. There’s no guarantee it would come off better than the anime, but at least the more leisurely pacing would’ve fit better with the mood and plot structure of the original serial.

      Lol at the “anvil o’ luuuurve”!😀 The mallet of mush!

      Then again, I’d probably watch Miura read a freaking grocery list and still find something to enjoy. I mean, I watched both seasons of Bloody Monday, and at least a grocery list would have a plot that makes sense. << Bwahahahahahahaha this cracked me up because it IS true😀 In that case, ditch the Bloody Mondays, save the grocery list!!! xP

  4. inuyatta Says:

    Yeah, it helps to have read the manga, because the movie really just kinda glossed over a lot of what makes the characters really fleshed out.

    They did get the right girl to look like Sawako, but they failed to write or direct her well enough to portray the subtleties of her character so that she makes sense–because canon!Sawako is not sociopathic in the slightest; rather, she actually just thinks too hard about how to make friends, and in doing so, comes off as creepy. The other thing that irked me is that Miura’s Kazehaya was pretty much written without any of his flaws or tics that make him so hilarious in the manga. You’d never know it from the movie’s choir-boy persona, but the actual Kazehaya pouts quite a bit and has a hell of a jealous streak.

    The movie was pretty good, but if they really wanted a live action portrayal, a tv drama would have been the best medium to do so. Not to mention, the director probably could have not made the cast hold back so much–so that characters like Pin and Chizu could really be just as crazy hyper as they should be.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Lol thanks for correcting the sociopathic part. So in the original manga/anime, Sawako is actually more normal than in the movie, while Kazehaya is less perfect? When you mentioned Kazehaya being pouty and prone to jealousy — heyyy I like! I like damaged — er, flawed heroes, the more flawed the better!😀

      Totally second the “tv drama over film” as a more effective medium, but er, I dunno if I’d want to see Pin (or Chizu) to go all jdorama-OTT on us, even if that’s how they’re portrayed in the original. I’d much prefer if the tone and treatment of (our theoretical hypothetical) Kimi ni Todoke live-action dorama were closer to a Nobuta wo Produce than to a Hana Kimi. But then that’s just me😉

  5. Jenny Says:

    I really like the manga but I felt that this would have worked better as a dorama instead of a movie. A lot of smaller but still important scenes were skipped and it just seemed like bang Kazehaya liked Sawako when it was something that grew gradually.
    The cinematography was beautiful but it didn’t save the movie from feeling rushed.

    Miura was adorable as Kazehaya(it’s nice to see him portraying a softer character) and Tabe Mikako suprised me in a good way.
    The supporting characters were nice even though I would have liked them to concentrate more on the girls friendship. And Pin(the teacher) was funny in the manga but in the movie I didn’t like Arata’s portrayal of him.

    I guess I can understand Sawako, I’ve always been extremely shy and as a child I was incredibly introverted and even talking to some relatives was difficult, but I wish they would have showed more how did the stories regarding Sawako start and why did it continue all the way to high school. I agree with you that in Nobuta we got to see why Nobuko was what she was when again here we have doting parents and a loving home.
    Evil Gakky is Kirei Miritani a kouhai to Maki and Meisa from Sweet Power, she does a lot of the “bitchy” roles. Next up though is Arakawa under the bridge where she has the leading role.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Ooooh so Evil Gakky is Arakawa eh? Are you following that series? How is it? I don’t know if there’s anything good this season… x_O (Or last season. Except JIN. I have the raws but not the subs so I can’t watch it yetttt x__O Must. get. up.to.date… @_@)

      • Jenny Says:

        Yup, she’s Nino ^^ Arakawa under the bridge is hilarious, better then I expected. Yuusha Yoshihiko To Maou No Shiro with Yamada Takayuki is low budget but awesome, I’ve been laughing so hard watching the show.
        Ikemen desu ne was a positive suprise for me while Jiu was a let down. For quality I would say Eita’s dorama Soredemo ikite yuku has a heavy basis for the story but the cast is perfect and it’s just really well made. Those are the ones I’m watching, the ouran live actions I’ve heard is okay but haven’t watched that.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Hey thanks for the recs😉 Yeah, my best friend is watching the new Eita drama and says it’s “good stuff,” if a little heavy.

          Er, no Hana Kimi 2011 on your to-watch list? =P

  6. jicks Says:

    I watched this today~~ my initial reaction: YES VERY PRETTY, enjoyed it, but… wished it was (alot) better.

    I’m agreeing you and many of the other comments: this definitely would’ve been better as a dorama. I know they were trying to follow the manga/anime as much as possible, but by trying to squeeze in all the key scenes, they ended up sacrificing so much of the character and relationship foundation and making it feel piecey, hectic and rushed- something that just wasn’t in the spirit of what made the anime so likeable. I think this also contributed to your observation on the conflicts not being conflicts because, well, if it doesn’t last more than, like, 2 minutes, it’s not a freaking conflict right, children!

    Rather than Kazehaya expressing frank admiration for Sawako from the get-go, I would’ve wanted a more nuanced development of their relationship – marked perhaps by a friendly smile in the hallway, or a casual greeting before the bell.
    ^^Spot on! This gradual strengthening in their relationship is shown in the anime but it certainly lacked in the film. Not that I didn’t enjoy seeing pretty little Miura’s eyes light up and THAT sunshine-of-a-smile of his within 10 minutes of the movie rolling (did you SEE the way he first greets her in class?? Did you? Did you? *falls over* *stumbles back up* I seriously would have… flicked my hair and batted my eyelids right back in the boy’s face, I mean, I would’ve just smiled back…) but I much prefer experiencing the build up to things. In the anime when Sawako puts her hair up for the first time (during the soccer game) and Kazehaya sees her, he’s like, oh my goodness she’s more kawaii that I thought, And when he sees her all dolled up on her birthday/NYE, he’s like, oh my gosh she’s even more beautiful than I thought. That’s the kinda stuff I would’ve liked to have seen xDD

    I also really, really wish they developed Ryu and Chizu’s story more. In the manga/anime, Ryu is arguably the better dude in my eyes because he’s always been by Chizu’s side silently supporting her, being her shoulder to lean on when she’s down (but in the live-action film, well, you know, tight-grip, soft-hair, chiselled cheekbones FTW xDDDDDD)

    Oh, your favourite scene was my favourite too! LOVED it when he got all red-faced on the soccer pitch ^_^ LOL@ your verbal outage during this scene xDD The moment that got me talking out loud was near the end as they are welcoming the New Year and Kazehaya says to Sawako something along the lines of, “Please, take care of me.” I think my response was, “Oh baby you know we’ll all take care of you.” >_>;;;;;;;; *shoves paper bag over head & runs*

    Ahem, so ultimately, my verdict is: Miura playing a high school boy (good or bad, with our without bleach hair, lol) = WIN! xDD

    Btw, have you had the chance to see that “2011 classroom morality play”? Any headsup tips? I’ve got it purchased but I’m not so sure if I’m prepared to see such a different image of Mr M.H. >_>;;;

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      I think this also contributed to your observation on the conflicts not being conflicts because, well, if it doesn’t last more than, like, 2 minutes, it’s not a freaking conflict right, children! << ROFL ahaha I love how you put it.😀 Yeah I really did wish the "conflicts" had been less shallow. The filmmakers shoulda just chucked the bullies/Evil Gakky arc altogether and focused on developing Sawako's friendship with Kazehaya and the other 3. They didn't need all that drama to drive the friendship arc. @__@

      “Not that I didn’t enjoy seeing pretty little Miura’s eyes light up and THAT sunshine-of-a-smile of his within 10 minutes of the movie rolling” << Yes I saw it toooooooooo *self-destructs at the memory* Seriously, that boy is a walking "alskdjfhg" lolz😛

      Oooh the actress playing Chizu is so pretty! I like her. The Ryu guy wasn't bad-looking either.😉 They're one of the few beta couples in J-film/drama that I actually cared about in a long time.

      I think my response was, “Oh baby you know we’ll all take care of you.” >_>;;;;;;;; *shoves paper bag over head & runs* << Oh ehm gee I can just imagine you saying that in a Barry White voice!!!!!!!! lololol xDDD Gimme an extra paper bag!!! I want one too!!! Or better yet, let's shove a paper bag down M's face and cart him off to some deserted… er… never mind. lol x_O

      Ahem, so ultimately, my verdict is: Miura playing a high school boy (good or bad, with our without bleach hair, lol) = WIN! xDD << Well I'll drink to that. ;-D He gets extra points from me if he goes around in a hoodie and is good with laptops and cries every time evil terrorists kill off a friend, haha. I just realized that my favorite Miura role bar none is Fujimaru, not that it's any positive reflection on the Bloody Mondays =D

      Ack, have not had the chance to get my grubby fingers on Miura’s first “adult drama” (whatever that means lol). Have you given your copy a spin??? So is the drama really as sick and dirrrty as it’s cracked up to be? lulz xD

      • jicks Says:

        ^Nope, still haven’t touched Miura’s attempt at a grown-up drama! Partly because I was dragging myself through that drama where MatsuJun plays Takeuchi Yuko’s toyboy but also I think because subsconsciously, I’m just still not emotionally prepared see our baby little Miura go sancha-preying~~ lol.But I am nearing the moment soon >_>… Btw, I’m just putting it out there, I think it would be most fun for us all for you to review it ;D :D:D

        But ahaha I had an inkling you liked him best hacker-style! Now that I’m thinking about it… I have to say Fujiwaru would probably be my favourite role of his, too. The sweet, protective brotherly side earns BIG points, likewise starring alongside and just head & shoulders outshining his BFF^^;

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Oyaoyaoya I’m kinda torn b/w reviewing the Miura Grown-Up Show and… um… Kame’s monster drama ahahahaha. What to do what to do??? >___<

          (Rly, the MatsuJun toyboy drama's a drag? But — but — the teaser that you posted was sooo purrtyyy…😦 )

          Speaking of our Miura button's BFF, dija hear Sato's playing Kenshin in the new Samurai X movie??? I wonder how big they’re gonna make that “X” on his cheek without making him look altogether disfigured lol. Srsly though I’m looking forward to this one — after all, Sato-kun seems to be the only one who can pull off the wild ‘n’ bushy hair haha =P

          • jicks Says:

            ahaha, You should do both! And make it a battle off somehow.Fictitiously swap their roles and see how it pans out or something, lol.

            And btw, apparently I’ve been living under a rock! Miura’s series for the season Hi wa Mata Noboru is done and dusted already! Apparently he wears uniform… ~~hmm, shall we be checking it out? xPP

            WTF, Sato Takeru is playing Himura Kenshin?????? Nooooooo!!!!!! But Kenshin is so beautiful!!!!!!!!!!

            Finally, YES, unfortunately MatsuJun & Takeuchi Yuko’s series together failed (big time) to live up to the cutesiness of the teaser. All the chemistry they had was in that short clip alone, and the I found the characters in the series (and the story for that matter) really lacking in any emotional connection. I wish they would’ve concentrated the story more from the standpoint of Jun’s character, focus more on his journey to become as great of an actor as his father was and having Takeuechi Yuko’s love as a source of empowerment, Instead, both elements seemed a little disconnected, not really showing any sense of direction and in the end, everything just felt a little half-brewed -_-“

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            Oooh Miura in Police Academy? Do let’s checkitout!!! xDDD *salutes* *blows rusty whistle* Cute guys in uniform are my Waterloo, heh heh heh. (I mean Kimura in Good Luck was just alskdjfhg)

            “WTF, Sato Takeru is playing Himura Kenshin?????? Nooooooo!!!!!! But Kenshin is so beautiful!!!!!!!!!!” >> Hahahaha touche baby touche😉 But could you srsly stomach, oh… Miura walking around with a giant scar on his face?😀 (Although admittedly, the scar was part of Kenshin’s beauty. Huh? huh? now I’m confuuuzed lol) But doesn’t Kenshin’s story end horribly, anyway? I watched the Reflection OVA and was totally “WTF??!?!? he’s supposed to live forever!” (lol) at the ending. So if it’s not Sato then, who d’you see as Kenshin? Jin? lol. Kame? double lol. (Alas, all I know is Johnnies!😦 )

            “Half-brewed” is not good! >__< Which reminds me, I have Smile and Kimi wa Petto somewhere, both unwatched. I guess MatsuJun only works for me as a rich, sociopathic jerkbag with a bad perm😛

  7. bbmecury Says:

    Like you, I was hoping for more development on the Ryu-Chizuru arc too! In fact, that’s the reason I am following the manga now… that part of the story is kinda reaching its climax. The two characters are just awesome. Now, if only they will make this into a Renzouku (just like Koizora) and retain the main actors/actresses. Or if that is too much to hope for, retaining just Miura will work for me too🙂

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hahaha, if Miura/Amuse/studio execs had any sense in them they’d sit up and listen to what we’ve been saying in this comments thread — KnT oughtta be a renzoku!!! @__@

      Lol retaining just Miura will work fine for me too! srsly I could watch him run across the soccer field all day😀 Or they could do a spinoff series starring Ryu-Chizuru and have Miura as a recurring character. ^^;;

  8. maybeline Says:

    I thought I wouldnt cry. But I cried while watching.


  9. thanks 4 de review.i tried to watch the anime b4, but i think it’s just not my cup of tea that i gave up watch it after a few eps, so when de live action came out, i was intrigued to watch it bcoz i find someone catch my eyes fr the trailer, yeah it’s Haruma. but i watched around 15mnts, then gave up already. this’s really not my type. but i fell for his charming smile & end up watching Bloody Monday.
    but thanks to your review,i was like, i should watch this.emm and i love it. it’s like u’r eating s/thing that just enough flavor, not too sweet or bitter. it’s just good for your digestion.but maybe how they end it is a bit rush. yeah a drama would be better, but i’m not sure if i would watch it even Haruma in it.
    my favorite scene also the gym one. just love it when he grab his hand, aww imagine if it’s my hand there<3<3

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Glad you liked the movie after all! Nice analogy there with the flavors and being good for digestion. So true!😀 Unlike Koizora, which will give you frickin’ ulcers from all the trauma and melodrama yecch hahahha =P

  10. CryW01f Says:

    I have decided to come out of lurking, I cannot take this anymore! Thanks for doing all this work you do on your blog I greatly enjoy reading other’s povs on things like this. I can only hope someone, someday finally finds that *cough* Goro Inagaki *cough* movie *cough* Private Lessons 2 *cough* that’s on youtube and does a review of it *cough* cause it must be known to all Johnny’s boys that these wonderful movies had to start somewhere >.<

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      You’re welcome muchly! And thank you for bearing with my little brog, lol😀 I’m enjoying myself and I’m glad some of you are, too!😉

      Hahaha I wasn’t even aware of Goro’s Private Lessons (2??? so there’s a 1??? oh wow). But now that you brought it up I feel compelled to take a really quick and random peek one of these days…

  11. rossi321 Says:

    I partially dl-ed this b/c of the pretty and also because the plot sounds similar to Nobuta (which I have a forever love for) and Wallflowers (not the drama, the anime, although I didn’t mind the drama so much as others. It wasn’t something that could ever translate well into live action for one and for another, Kame was decent in there. Kame is such a bias for me when it comes to defending his acting. He’s not great, not by a long shot. But for me, he has that “it” quality that could become greatness if he stops picking crappy projects that is *sigh*). Now after reading your review, am not sure if I will finish dl-ding it.

    In my experience, Japanese movies tend to not be that great, they’re either really slow and really off the chart that you’re left with a bucket of WTF? at the end. On the other hand, I love their drama though. I forgot how much I love jdrama until I started watching them again recently (and no, the kdrama didn’t get me. It was real life and its annoying habit of making me do things instead of having time to watch stuff *shake fist*). The one that drew me back is “Nagareboshi”, it’s been two weeks and I still pine after that drama. Have you watched it yet?

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Your assessment of Kame was totally spot-on.🙂 And I suppose we can chalk up Kame’s upcoming monster dorama as another of these “crappy projects.” Sigh. At least we’ll always have Nobuta, ne?

      Nageraboshi comes highly recced by a few people I know, and I’ve been meaning to give this series a try. But the series looks sad and I’m kind of dreading the ending! Yikes X__O

  12. purplebasket Says:

    First, I can’t compare the movie to the manga or anime because they are of totally different media. But I agree with you that the style, trees, wind, night and color made it more beautiful. I disagree, however, on the account that there were hints that Sawako liked Kazehaya from the start (i.e. the hooded glances, whatsoever). I think that part was very subtle. I didn’t think she realized that she really liked Kazehaya until she was confronted by it. Nevertheless, I really like your writing style and opinions. Thank you!🙂

  13. rani25 Says:

    im soooo suprised by a lot of mangas representation of high school life in japan.hope they are not bad as they are made out to be in mangas .srsly the amount of they time they are fixed on the boys looks(more like girly looks) wat do they actually study ??i saw one drama with kame where the whole issue was him being pretty ?wtf

    hated the anime but i was realli infeted in her frens relation than the main girl

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Oomfff, Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge was NOT I REPEAT NOT Kame’s best work. >___< If you want to see him (and YamaPi heehee) in a high school-based dorama that DOESN'T feel cartoonish and infantile, try giving Nobuta wo Produce (2005) a shot😉

  14. noiha Says:

    Thank’s for your review. I had a nice laugh. You didn’t leave that epic heart-shaped petal! Haha. I nearly fainted in every of your Koizora reference. xD

    Personally, I think this movie isn’t bad at all. It is a fluffy romance every typical shoujo manga offer. Unlike Koizora which is my first encounter with Miura Haruma and left a lol-astic impression for me, this movie is fine, gave me a hunch of how handsome Miura Haruma can be with fine hairstyle. It’s nothing mind-blowing but it is cute and I love the Powerpuff Girls and Sadako combination here (lol).

    Also, I especially like the casts. Like I’ve said in my comment in your Koizora review, Miura Haruma is originally nice and warm boy. Unlike the non-existing baddass in Koizora, he pulled off this character naturally with his alluring smile *gasp*. I also like Tabe Makiko here and for some reason I feel like she’s the one who carrying this fluffy romance by herself (while Miura is just there, smiling, be a good boy). Thus, I’d like to give her props.

    However, I agree with most of you that everything in this movie seems to be rushed. This would be a nice drama. It might has a long way to go before it reached the Nobuta wo Produce level, but it has potential to be a fun ride like Yamada Taro Monogatari. But not that I complained. I still cherish this movie.

    Anyway, thanks again! Hopefully I can read more of your writings in the future. Miura Haruma Part 3 would be awesome! Kke. Cheers. ^^

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Yeah, this movie would def. rank much higher than the joke that was Koizora. At least the characters and situations in Kimi ni Todoke won’t make you die howling in laughter (or from self-inflicted head injuries, lol).😀

      But thanks for the encouragement! It’s nice to know that readers like you are looking forward to more stuff on my blog, even though I haven’t written it yet (yikes!) lol😛


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