And yet another great little project from Japan that manages, somehow, to hit all the right points with barely a single BGM for support! Like, how do they do it?! Even more impressive is the fact that this movie was written and directed by a graduate!! Yeah sure, one can argue that this is no regular graduate being a Todai graduate (Tokyo University graduate) but still, a graduate is a graduate!
You know I have come to the conclusion that if you want real characters in movies, especially female, you want a female director! Women directors really know how to push for emotions! They rarely rely on BGM to enhance emotional scenes but rather on the characters! Yes, this is directed by a woman (Takeuchi Lisa)! ‘A Girl At My Door’ – another great movie that relies mostly on its characters, was directed by a woman (Jung July).
Women directors know how to conceal emotions and knowing what level of yuri I prefer, you best know it that I am praying for more female directors to make more yuri movies in the future! Now of course there are plenty of good male directors who also understand characters but even then when it comes to female characters, there is something missing there. There is a bit of realism missing and though sometimes it takes a female assistant to help bridge the gap (a la ‘The Handmaiden’ and ‘As One’) it is just not the same!
Back to Michiteiku, Japan is still plenty relevant and only in 2nd place because South Korea has given us more better home-runs, because they are very good at these silent movies! By this I do not mean those early 1900s style movies! I mean that there is very little BGM if it is even used! Only Japan seems to have the guts for these movies where they rely mostly on the actors, script and nature! I really love these movies! No emotion gets passed you because there are no distractions! Directors and Writers can hide little meanings within actions and you will pick them up easily if you know what you are looking for!
Michiteiku is that movie I got with my Christmas swag and it is now time to talk about it. If you haven’t yet watched it and you do not want to be spoiled, you know what to do, or not to do. But really, I am no critic so it should be expected that there are going to be spoilers in my posts, especially the way I write about stuff!
Symbolism, I love me some symbolism! Sometimes even though the movie beats you on the head with them in the beginning, somehow when they come back full circle towards the end and it turns out the whole movie was revolving around them, it is always a surprise! I almost always go back and re-watch the movie because somewhere in the middle I lost track of them!
Michi te Iku also has such symbolism and in this case those are Michi’s (our main character played by Tobita Momoko) body markings! I do not think it is right to call them hickeys because both her boyfriend and Nita (our pony-tailed girl) aren’t very hot on putting them on Michi’s body! But of course we do not know this until later on the movie but those markings are in fact very important, especially to the main character’s life.
Now, now, if you have a frown on your face because I mentioned Boyfriend, please get rid of it! If you require evidence for satisfaction I guess I have to spoil somethings right here but in the end the Boyfriend leaves Michi because this thing Michi had with wanting to be marked was getting out of hand, especially since she did not tell him why she wanted it done to her! That is all I can say for now so smile!
Michi is a very laid back person! She is part of the track team but seeing as that team is less motivated than even I, it is no wonder that she doesn’t feel like she is worth anything, even though she is the fasted on the team, even faster than Nita, the captain and the only one who trains every single day!
Oh yes, I am super lazy when I don’t have a task to do! But when I do have a task, I am as enthusiastic as them come! It’s like I have an On-Off switch or something! Give me a task and I will do it like I am professionalized in it but give me nothing and I am lazier than Potato girl when hungry!
Anyway, on the other side we have Nita, the captain and third year student! She has grand visions for the team and is a nice person, and kind of innocent, but she is too nice to a fault! She lets her club members walk all over her despite being in classes lower than her.
Michi is less innocent compared to Nita, which is really a fresh take on main characters! There is no innocence to been seen whatsoever when it comes to her! Be it the physical kind (she has a boyfriend, way older than her and they are obviously intimate) or the spiritual kind (she steals Nita’s notes – on all the team members, denies that she has it despite the note-book being extremely important to Nita and admitting that she wanted Nita’s position as Captain).
But thankfully she is still a main character and when she finds out exactly how important the notes meant to Nita, she returns them, though without doing something else devilish while there! But expanding on the spiritual sins of Michi, when she was in possession of Nita’s notes, her boyfriend thinking that they were hers, complemented her at how serious she was about her life! I realised here that Michi is keeping secrets from her boyfriend because he doesn’t even know that she is not the captain of the track team and Nita does not correct him when he makes the mistaken judgement. She just revels in the compliments that are rightfully Nita’s. As you can see ,we have here on our hands a very different type of heroine!
But despite not being innocent she is still essentially a good person. I mean we all have these desires within us but as long as we do not let them out, we are still good! The battle in in having them and deciding not to act upon them! This is the difference between humans and animals!
And so when Michi sees that the note book is very important to Nita, she visits her in the night just to return the notes. or so I thought! Now to be truthful, I do not think that even she planned on doing what she did while in Nita’s room! Speaking of this visit, another side of Michi’s that is not so innocent is how pushy she was here. I don’t think Nita wanted her to get inside but Michi used Nita’s sister to push forward into both Nita’s home and her life, since really, this is when they finally ‘connected’.
So what did Michi do that she was not counting on when she showed up on Nita’s door-step? Well, up in Nita’s room after Michi gives the note-book back (I don’t even think that she apologised) she does something that had my eye-brows rising the first time it happened! She stands in front of Nita, who is sitting on her bed, started to pull her shirt out of the skirt and raised it. At first I thought she was going to undress right there but she was only showing her stomach.
Nita is as dumbfounded as I am when she asks why Michi is showing her that! Michi simply answers ‘ I don’t know’. This answer is what she gives throughout the movie when someone asks her something, especially Nita. As to why she actually did this, it kind of goes back to before when they were in the club room at school, Nita asks the members to undress for a meeting but they refuse. Michi too did not undress but you could she that she was uncomfortable and felt bad coming off as a rebel. Showing Nita her ‘marks’ was like her way of saying that this was why she did not change into her gym clothes in front of the others.
She does not want the other to see these marks of hers and the first time I watched the movie I thought that her boyfriend was doing it against her will but as we see later on it was her asking for it. The reason why we find out later towards the end but she does not want anyone to see these markings but for some unknown reason she showed them to Nita. That bold move, even though it came out of nowhere got Nita’s attention and since then they were connected!
The first time we see evidence of Nita having noticed Michi is one of the mornings (if not the very next morning) on the train. Almost usually Michi falls asleep on the train to school and most times her friend (A Kouhai) wakes her up as they travel often to and from school but that morning Michi was alone (probably because she could not sleep thinking of the impossible stunt she had pulled in front of Nita) and there was no one to wake her but thankfully Nita was on the train that morning too and she noticed the sleeping Michi.
it was rather cute seeing her deciding on what to do! She would look towards Michi then away then back but finally she decided to wake Michi, even though she bolted before Michi could notice her, heh. But she did wait for her outside and offered Michi a ride on her bike.
From then on they were connected! Nita finally found someone to be close too, since before then and even after we don’t see her with anyone, not until later on when she finally gets close to her classmate that sat right behind her. But before Michi Nita had no one!
Meanwhile Nita was not such an outcast as Nita but her friendships seemed kept at arms’ lengths! It was to Nita that she truly found someone to open up to. Even her boyfriend had only one foot inside her life and she was with him mostly due to her fear, we shall talk about that later.
The two bring out this side in each other that we have not seen before! You would not have thought Nita could smile before she met Michi and on Michi;s side, Nita forced her to change and switch from this quiet girl that seemed impossible of expressing herself out loud to someone ready to take on the world, one step at a time…
While they are chilling in the club room they bask in their secrets, Michi’s being the bodily harm she revel in and Nita, her notes she has on the members. Nita now casually touches Michi’s skin where she is ‘marked’ and Michi casually reads Nita’s valuable notes. Michi asks why Nita doesn’t tell their teammates about them but she fires back at Michi asking her why she doesn’t want the others to see her ‘markings’. Michi replies that because it is a secret, maybe! To which Nita replies that she too doesn’t share her notes because it is a secret!
So, these are secrets but they share them casually with one another?! Okay!
And then to really prove that something good can always come out of something bad happening, the club does finally fall apart and Nita’s notes are rendered useless. She is finally had enough and proceeds to rip the note-book to pieces and throws them into a river! Michi watching this painful scene walks over to Michi and asks her out on a date!
A date spent at the planetarium and one that helps Nita get rid of her fear of Space when Michi tells her of what her classmate told her about space and our place in it.
Speaking of classmates, both Michi and Nita had classmates that though seemed weird, they actually gave our girls a life lesson in that while Michi and Nita’s lives seems miserable, there were others that had it worse than them, had harder decisions to make, had worse things to deal with in life then our two girls. When Nita get’s time out from school after leaving Michi in charge as Captain( something she had been dreaming of and we will get back to), she gets to spend some quality time with that weird classmate that she needed nothing to do with before. Nita who had bought a new diary to replace her lost note-book and also got a present in the form of pencils from Michi to help her write again, seemed to have nothing to write about, all her motivation gone.
It is this classmate of hers that helps her start writing again. She asks Nita to write about what they do together during the days they spend together (and without Michi) and we find out that this classmate is actually going to get married and move out of town. A girl in high school is already making a decision so big, that explained her weird behaviour in class and that was because to her education was not in her future. Her life had already been decided but since she was not close to anyone she also felt sad because no one would miss her and in a very emotional scene where they say goodbye she asks Nita to remember her, which is why she wanted her to write about their adventures in her diary.
That was a great motivation to Nita, who stepped away from writing about merely what happened in the day and to include her moments spent with Michi! The diary becomes her new secret, a secret that she refuses to share even with Michi when they next meet.
Meanwhile Michi’s classmate’s issues went way further than Michi could ever even think of. She all but attempted to commit suicide in front of everyone through cutting her wrists (girl, you should have jumped through a window if you were serious! Then again maybe they were not that far up?). But while Nita got her eyes opened with her classmate’s truths, here Michi almost got the opposite effect!
Though it might seem like she wanted to stop her classmate from cutting herself, I think that Michi saw a new way to mark herself! I think that she either wanted to be cut by the classmate or get the razor and cut herself! That would definitely be a permanent mark that would not disappear like all those bites her boyfriend was making for her.
Before we get to the secret of the bites, let talk about another symbol used in the movie and that is the Moon! If you watch the movie you will see the moon shown in different stages through out the movie. This is important because it is also part of the story. From Michi’s sister we learn that when one makes a wish on a New Moon, when that moon turns into a Full Moon their wish will come true!
There were two wishes one from Michi and one from Nita. both of their wishes come true but we can only speculate on what Nita’s wish was. We know it came true only because when Michi’s sister was telling her about the legend of the Moon and wishes, Nita says that hers had come true. This is after she goes to visit Michi, who had reached a point of no return and something happened there for Michi to be saved. More on this.
But we do know what Michi’s wish was and that came true the day after their date when Nita passed over the Captain role to her. Despite everything Michi really loved track. She would run to and from the train everyday as a way to keep in shape and why she was faster than everyone else. Michi knew this when she made her captain.
And so it was quite poetic what happened! Michi became the captain of the track team but in doing so lost what she loved about it! There was no Michi since she had taken a break from it. The members were listening to her even less than Nita since they felt they were more deserving of being captain than their junior. Despite training even harder than she had before Michi was getting slower but each passing day! She trained so hard her heals hot scalds but she was getting slower and slower!
In addition to track, the only thing that she was known for and loved, becoming less fun, her boyfriend breaks up with her because he was tired of this fetish of getting hurt that Michi had going even when she would not tell him why he had to do it! Hers and Nita’s lives couldn’t have gone into opposite directions! Where Nita was finally free to have fun without the responsibility of the track, Michi was getting constrained and losing her free spirit as the new captain of the track. She wanted less and less to do with running!
Then Nita came to her rescue after finding out what had gone on in her absence from Michi’s friend.
There was this scene in the Nurse’s office after the wrist incident, where Nita went to visit Michi who was resting there. I’m not even thinking of the fact that Nita just out of the blue lifted up Michi’s blouse and peeked under it or the fact that she asked Michi to show her like they were lovers and Michi just easily lifted it up and bared her stomach or the fact that Nita just as easily raised her fingers and touched Michi’s skin then let her hand slide lower and lower until it rested on the inner thighs of Michi’s, all this in that dark small room just the two of them face to face!
No, I am thinking of the fact that Nita offered her arm so Michi could ‘mark’ her because she wanted to understand at least what it felt like! Michi did bite her but it was all pain and no gain to Nita who said that she did not get it!
So, thinking of that scene and what happens here in Michi’s bedroom when Nita comes over in a rush to save her, really drives the point home! As expected things begin with once again this new intimacy between them. Nita asks Michi to show her (meaning her markings) and since it had been a long while since she got any, her boyfriend having left her, Michi’s marking’s have almost disappeared! But asking her again why she does this to herself would not give her answers so Nita first offers something to get something in return.
She finally gives over her new diary that she had denied Michi before saying it was a secret. Within it are things she enjoyed doing and remembers and most of them are the times she spent with Michi (Awwww). Having gotten a secret from Nita, Michi finally tells us why she was marking herself. She says that it made her feel real and without them she felt like she would be nothing, that she would disappear!
Nita moved to sit closer to Michi. She takes Michi’s hand and raises it to her mouth. She bits down hard on it leaving her teeth marks! The surprise on Michi’s face was delicious! Nita says that, that will also disappear but she begs her to stay. She begs her not to disappear (from her life?). And my mind is whirling thinking of all the things this could mean!! Does this mean that Nita had now taken Michi’s boyfriend’s place and that she is saying that she will be there to bite Michi as much as she wants? Does it mean that now that Michi has figured out that she means something more to someone, that she now is with Nita, that she doesn’t have to worry about disappearing?!
Either way this is BEST END scenario! In any context that moment with Nita taking Michi’s hand an biting her could have been a kiss! But to Michi a bite is more important and meaningful than a kiss so in this case BITE = KISS! Nay, this is basically a confession! Nita just out right took responsibility of Michi’s life here!
And when they go out later than night, Michi can’t wait to run again. She jumps off the bike and runs ahead, shouting for Nita to join her! Not only did Nita restore her essence to live but she also restored her love for running, which really, is as important! How much are you dear Readers willing to be that she would have broken her fastest record had she been up to a challenge in that moment?
And the Full Moon that is shown before the screen goes black is, according to Nita, Michi’s Moon! she named the Full Moon after Nita! I really wish we were told her wish! She says it came true, after the confession night (as I like to refer to it as) so what was her wish? Was it Michi? Was it to save Michi? What was it?!!!
But really, BEST END right here, as the two run off into the night, with Michi’s Moon watching over them in its Full Glory! I love it! And I am a sucker for these real hero types of movies where characters save one another! Where they once were lost alone they found their true paths in life together! How can I not love this?!
So, if you are interested, see below after the trailers…