Japan strikes once again from the blind spot with yet another movie that hits right in the FEELs!
I have to confess, I was not looking forward to this movie but that poster, especially the one for the Blu-ray, was just too good for this to be simply bait! Speaking of bait, that is the vibe I got from the trailer. I seriously thought this was one of those BAD-END types of movies but I tell you all now, forget the trailer! That is one misleading trailer! Believe in the poster!
Speaking of that Blu-ray, I guess I have to get it now after being so bitch-slapped for having any doubts! I mean, my yuri-sense, that has only let me down like, less than 5%, told me to watch that trailer and I did but then I got doubts about the movie from the trailer! It was only a stupid trailer! Never doing that again I wear!
This of course means that Shoujo delivered the goods and what quality!!! I am a sucker, as most of you will know, for the types of stories where the couple save each other! Usually it is one person saving the other and that is already too much but having both sides save the other, now that is over-kill and instant WIN in my book!
This movie is basically karma and that means awesome twists that you never see coming! Something seemingly insignificant can come back later and make your brain melt and this movie has those in spades! If you are interested in watching this movie, I will just tell you what Yuki’s grandmother kept chanting in the movie. She said that be careful what you do because it will come back and bite you in the end, all in an instant! Imagine that pain condensed in just a few moments before your death.
Karma is the moral of this story but that mainly has to do with other characters not ours two girls. They were mostly at the other end of that stick, in that they were the subjects of misery! Seriously, if this movie was released in Hollywood it would be at 10% Rotten tomatoes because ‘grimdark’. But this is Japan and movies like these are cereals for breakfast!
Seriously though, this is one despairing movie! It’s got it all – underage sex, attempted rape, power harassment, domestic violence, innocent persecution, suicide, bullying, curses and more! I went in expecting some Christian girls’ school drama, innocent girls’ school drama it was not!!
So what was it then…
Still short on time so let’s do this the usual way. Really, yuri is all that matter so I am approaching this once again through our girls. First the introductions. That short haired girl is Yuki, she is played by actress Honda Tsubasa. The other long-haired one, if you have been here before chances are you know of her already. She is sometimes a deadly maid, sometimes a ghost of vengeance but she is really a nice high school girls being bullied to the point of madness but holding on just because she has someone she has to protect. her name is Atsuko!
Now, this movie is rather complicated in that it is hard to decide how to write about it. Things make sense as the time passes but that sense is needed to talk about the earlier scenes only then it is kind of spoiling the fun of joining those dots together so I am conflicted! Now that I have seen the whole movie I know what earlier special actions meant but if I talk about it all connected then it might confuse those watching it for the first time.
Ah, who am I kidding, let’s just roll with it just like usual. You see the movie portrays the characters in this light that is just so confusing. You do not know what is what, why they are doing this, you can speculate but later you are to be proved wrong! The movie opens with girls who are seemingly in a club and they come off as some kind of suicide pact club. But that is all just a bunch of bull! Atsuko and Yuki are seemingly both disabled. Is this club about people who are having hardships and are thinking of killing themselves?
Atsuko has apparently a very bad leg. She drags it around as if it was broken at the ankle and irreparable. Yuki has a very ugly scar on her left hand and she tells Atsuko that her hand will never heal to be used normally. Your brain starts having theories of where the movie is going! Atsuko looks kind of clingy and you wonder if she is going to piss off Yuki at some point, they will have a fight, she will die, at the hands of Yuki (thank you, stupid trailer!) so you are already demotivated!
Things that happen to Atsuko all point to her being a red shirt. Yuki also is being driven to madness and all my fears are seemingly coming to pass! Despite having a bad leg, Atsuko is being bullied like there is no tomorrow! Her previous group of friends that she played Kendo with all play the Death Game every single day in their circle chat app where they write death notes of Atsuko. Things like, ‘Will you just die’, ‘Seriously, just go and die’. There is this pad scene where she finds her locker stuffed with girls’ pads and one is written in seemingly blood (ewww) that has the DIE word written on it! These things that send Atsuko in a fit which always ends in her collapsing, asking Yuki to save her! The hate is mainly from the fact that when she had the accident of her leg, she made it impossible for their team to go to the nationals. Atsuko was the most promising as she was being thought of the next national champion.
Meanwhile Yuki is an aspiring writer. She has just gotten a break through, a script that is very important to her and even more important to Atsuko. She has almost completed it, only one page to go, but while their class is practicing for some festival event I gather, when they are on break she comes in and finds that her script is gone! Before this we see a man reach in her bag and take it so we know someone has taken it. That someone turns out to be their homeroom teacher, who publishes Yuki’s script as his own work, almost breaking Yuki who looks ready to murder the bastard! We do not find out the real importance of this script until towards the end but the gist of it is that it is about Atsuko!
While Atsuko’s misery is mainly in the present, Yuki’s was during her childhood. There is this scene that made me go WTF in the beginning when we first see that Atsuko’s leg is actually a farce! Her leg is already healed and the limping is just for show. Even her family think that she is still playing Kendo but in school everyone thinks that she is done with a broken leg. Anyway when she gets home there are these photos of her childhood with someone that at first I thought it was her sister we have yet to meet, or maybe she is dead but it turns out it was Yuki. These two have been friends since childhood and they were both into kendo and Yuki only got into writing because she could no longer use her left hand.
They interestingly give the point away when they focus on Yuki’s grandmother’s ruler she is hitting with the ground with and they instantly cut to a close up of Yuki’s hand. Without even the flashbacks happening yet you know what happened! But it’s not the time for that yet. The point of this first few moments was to mislead us. It seemed like these two’s closeness would not last the test of time! Atsuko was getting mad at Yuki because she was not there to save her during the bullying and she spits fire towards Yuki saying that she doesn’t know how it feels, feeling so bad you want to die! Yuki of course tells her that they might not be feeling the same thing but that Atsuko is wrong. Yuki too has known feeling so low she would want to die.
Things really start to get interesting when more supporting characters get introduced! Interestingly both if them get one. Atsuko get a friend in the new girl that pushes her way into their lives and Yuki gets a guy who is interested in her strange personality. They both needed this break but it seems like these new connections are what is driving them apart even further.
Atsuko is feeling like she is losing Yuki and she truly seems to depend on her, life dependency! But she does not hang out with the new girl because she wants. She is weak and the new girl is commanding so Atsuko is like a lackey to her. She lures Atsuko into her dark world where she seduces men, steals money from them when they try to sexually abuse her and she uses it to buy herself gifts that Atsuko like, just like any other girl, but can’t afford. New girl takes her to errands with her but it is clear that Atsuko is not enjoying it.
Meanwhile Yuki is hanging out with the dude, who thankfully doesn’t seem so romantically interested in her and he is just in it for some other agenda. But she hangs out with him because he is tolerable and she thinks that Atsuko doesn’t want to spend time with her anymore too.
So they are both already gotten things wrong about one another. Atsuko is even having nightmares about Yuki killing her instead of saving her. They are both secretly suffering and that suffering intensifies when they walk into one another with their significant other. Atsuko with the new girl, all already drilling money from a guy who they accuse of molesting Atsuko on the train. They are on either side of a train tracks. Atsuko looks over and sees Yuki looking toward her but then a guy walks up to her and they seem so close. The looks on both of their faces…heart-breaking!
Atsuko runs straight away when the train comes between them because she can’t handle it anymore. Both the fact that Yuki so her in such a shameful act and the other fact that she saw Yuki with someone else, a boyfriend, and this does not make sense now but she also feels like she has been discarded, that Yuki does not ‘need’ her anymore. She feels like they are so far apart now they might even be strangers.
And this is after a while back as the New Girl was giving the story of how she had seen a dead body before, a body of her best friend who had committed suicide, during that time she had asked about Yuki’s hand, who said that it was from her grandmother. This surprised Atsuko as we find out that Yuki had told her that she had injured herself but really, it was her mother that had given that reasoning during their childhood to their kendo teacher and that is what Atsuko believed. So to see Yuki tell such an important thing to this new girl, something that she did not know, helped in splitting them further.
These new characters introduced jealousy in both our girls. They both need one another desperately for their survival and here they were losing each other to someone else. Things got so bad that Yuki gives us a flashback to what happened to her hand and gives us answers as to who that was in Atsuko’s photos of her childhood. We see that Yuki was helping her sick grandmother, she seems to have a brain sickness to because she wailed on young Yuko to the point of hitting her so had her hand’s tendons were split.
Afterwards her mother is seen explaining to the kendo teacher what happened to Yuki and it is then we see young Atsuko who is trying to comfort Yuki meaning that they are childhood friends. When her hand starts to bleed through the bandages Yuki begins to have a fit. Atsuko grabs her by the hand and whisks her away from the dark space that was ready to devour her sanity and out into freedom of space that is the vast world. Those words that she says to young Yuki, words of the world being too big stay with Yuki into present day.
Yuki is crying as the memory ends. She obviously misses Atsuko desperately!
Atsuko is too not faring well. She walks alone in the dark towards the sea and breaks down and I am afraid she is going to jump into the sea or something with the darkness in her eyes! They desperately need one another to survive! Yuki even tries to commit suicide by drowning herself, a scene that transitioned nicely into that memory of her childhood but instead of dipping her head in the pan of water, she was dipping in a cloth to put to her sick grandma’s forehead.
But why do they need each other so much. We have an inkling by this time on why Yuki might need Atsuko but things don’t make sense. So far we have seen that it is Atsuko who needs Yuki the most. The young Atsuko is a far cry from the weakling we see in current time. What is going on exactly? We of course do not find out what that is until towards the end.
Since we have an idea of why Yuki needs Atsuko, let’s begin with her. It turns out that ever since that incident when Yuki had a fit and Atsuko saved her by whisking her away into the open world, a world where nothing would hurt her, Atsuko had made a promise to always protect Yuki. She worked hard to be the no.1 in kendo so she could be strong enough to protect Yuki. But that dream was squashed when she hurt her foot and got disqualified. She could no longer be able to protect Yuki. That accident traumatised her which is partly why she is still going around as if she is disabled. It is also why she had fits every time she gets bullied.
But this puny scared cat Atsuko is not who Yuki needs. Yuki needs the old strong Atsuko back. Who would save her when she next needs saving? And so it is here that Atsuko needs Yuki. While Yuki needs physical saving, Atsuko needs spiritual saving. How would Yuki go about doing something like that? How would she bring back the old strong Atsuko? She got an idea and that idea was to write a strong based of Atsuko as the character and that it would work its magic and save Atsuko, once she reads it.
And we know what happened to that story she had written! It got stolen by their teacher, and even if Atsuko kind of got an inkling that it was about her and had her suspicions, especially seeing Yuki’s strange behaviour, it did not make sense to her. Why would their teacher write a story about her? She asks him and he of course denies it twisting the story saying that everyone who read it thought it was about them! And so the message never truly went through to Atsuko. Also remember that there was a page missing, the last page.
While on their internships, Atsuko runs into a guy who mentions a book that Atsuko immediately recognises. She asks him if he still has it and to borrow it to her. She reads it finally and she gets it in the end. She gets what Yuki was trying to tell her. But the message is not complete. That would come later after she has returned to herself and has once again managed to do her duty and save Yuki.
But for the time being, her soul is restored and where she was hesitant to see Yuki before, this time she did not even hesitate to go to Yuki’s home and meet her. She doesn’t then but is instead referred to where Yuki was working.
The karma, that I mentioned, that happened there sends Yuki into one of those fits she hasn’t had since childhood. But this time her knight is here. Atsuko saves her like she did before. She frees Yuki from her darkness by whisking her away into the vast open world of light. Yuki’s surprise and happiness is plain as day to see in her features. It is that day in their childhood all over again. They are finally back where they should be, where they haven’t been for a really long time.
With one another.
But not completely. There is still a cloud there. They need to explain what has been going on for the past couple of weeks. Why they drifted apart. They both come clean of course. Atsuko tells how she felt un-needed by Yuki, mentions her jealousy on seeing Yuki with her new boyfriend. She says she felt like she had no place in this world anymore because she thought Yuki did not want her anymore after her failures, failure at becoming the nation champion and thus not strong enough to save her.
Meanwhile Yuki too comes clean, she tells Atsuko of her book, its meaning, how she had wanted to so badly save Atsuko and return her back to her old self but that she did not know how. She tells her of how she came up with the story idea, an idea and chance to save Atsuko that was ripped away from her by their teacher. We finally see them as they are fundamentally. Yuki as the weak one as she breaks down and cries and Atsuko as the strong knight that comforts a crying Yuki.
Yuki finally also gives Atsuko the true ending to that story, the last page! The page that made sense of everything. The page that sealed the deal and made sure that this was all about Atsuko, it was always about Atsuko! They hug and cry into the free sky over the town below.
And I am so not crying, okay?!
The movie ends with the two of them riding off into the sunlight, Yuki holding onto her knight Atsuko who looks so strong and confident, a nice contrast to the happy, safe and content Yuki relaxing on her back.
The world around them has not changed! It is going on in its misery. People die and their deaths makes no difference to the revolving world. New girl commits suicide, finally understanding why her friend did it, a question she had said had been plaguing her since. But no one is missing her, her death text is being laughed at by her fellow students. A text that goes un-noticed by Atsuko and Yuko who are in their own world now.
That is that karma I was talking about. New girl was leeching off men by tricking them into sexual harassment. It turns out that her father was the worst of those men. He had a school girl complex and the police found collections of girls’ clothes in their house. New Girl did not even know this. That the men she hated, her father was the worst of them. She killed herself and her death was just so meaningless!
Meanwhile the teacher also committed suicide by jumping in front of the train. Interestingly it was not because of Yuki exposing his underage sex videos she had found on his laptop. He just jumped, which put a twist of fantasy in this movie. It sometimes seemed like Yuki had black magic. At first she cursed the teacher to die and he jumped into an oncoming train. Then later when she found the hidden ruler that her grandmother had beaten her with as a child, she had burned it and at that exact moment her grandmother had a stroke but thankfully Atsuko was around and she saved her. Once again playing the knight’s role because I am sure had she found out her grandmother had died at her hands, she would not have been able to live with it, despite how much she hated her.
But the karma did not stop there, one of the victims of New Girl’s shenanigans was Atsuko’s boss in her job. He tells her that his family was split apart because of a false accusation of molestation. One of his boys was terribly sick and was in the hospital that Yuki was working it. Oh the irony. The thing that gets Yuki into a fit was that when they met, that man had come to visit his son, that son had bonded with Yuki and he hated his dad. That dad happened to be Atsuko’s boss. When they meet, instead of a happy reunion, the son stabs his father blaming him for everything.
Yeah, the karma was strong with this one. But once again the presence if Atsuko saves another life when she acts fast where everyone else was frozen and after quickly knocking the knife out of the son’s hands, she calls for the nurse and the dad is saved. They of course makeup after.
Okay, this now sounds much better than I originally thought. It looks like I need another re-watch. Anyway, you need to watch this! Sadly, there are no subs I could find but hopefully they come soon. I am going to be getting this Blu-ray too, Special Edition of course, because this is such a gem that deserves preservation!
Thank you all for coming this far. You can find it at the usual place or try YouTube too.
See ya around…