Look, I know I have been giving crap to Japan recently but I am ready to turn over a new leaf given recent developments.
Yes, yes, I know you are dying to know what spell was put on me in order to change my tune and I am ready to tell you all about it, in the coming four posts! Yes, four!
While not all these projects are recent, I have only come across them just recently (see what some time off does for you?!) and I was flabbergasted! I couldn’t believe this part of current Japan existed! I thought it was deaded and degrading while the rest of the world moved on!
I’m glad I was wrong!
One of them is what I consider the best of the best SUBTEXT content in history, if I was any other person, because that movie – MIO’S COOKBOOK (Direct translation – MIO’S WONDERFUL KITCHEN), but as we know I am not any other person and personally I consider it excellent SHOUJO AI, to use the old ways! Or SOFT YURI to all the millennials. Though I think most will fail to see anything because apparently if there are no kisses or sex it ain’t gay!
But, that’s conversation for another time!
Two of the four movies; STARTING OVER and WHILE YOU STAY FOREVER YOUNG, totally surprised me in their maturity! They were no-nonsense movies that tackled young adult (college life) issues so earnestly, something that I have not seen before and left a huge impact on me! Like, I am talking sleepless nights after watching them because I could not stop thinking about them!
But most of all it was the way they handled the relationships! Like, just wow! Serious business here, no bullshit, all emotion! Hall of Fame material right here.
That, is what is coming in the future posts!
For today, I am talking about the latest and hottest serve from Japan, yes, I am talking about HIRAITE – Yamada anna’s latest and greatest!
What a serve!
Like, seriously, I expected something but it for sure wasn’t what I got with this movie! Like, my mind was totally blown! This is the Sawajiri Erika in HELTER SKELTER kind of mind being blown! I still cannot wrap my mind around the sex scenes!
Yes Fam, I said SEX SCENES!!!!
Like, how in name of all that is Holy did we manage to have this gift! Like, forget about the destiny of their relationship, they have already hands down taken the Japan trophy in this category! Sex scenes! Like, I can’t believe I am saying that about a Japanese yuri movie and this is 1/3, yes, the other two (STARTING OVER and WHILE YOU STAY FOREVER YOUNG) also have sex scenes, but they are nowhere as effortful as these!
Jaw is still on the floor, like!
Like literally not even five minutes in and I was already giggling like I was frikkin 10 years younger! Less than five minutes in a 2-hour movie!! And you know how I watch movies on the first go, especially those that are relevant!
To the uninitiated, it takes me on average, 3x the runtime to finish watching a movie the first time! I am always pausing, rewinding, pausing and repeated just to soak all the goodness in! I started to watch this movie at 22:00 and by the time I was finished it was 02:45 in the morning! Obviously, with what I said in the beginning, there was no such luck in sleeping until way past 4!
But am I tired? Hell no! Even in my waking hours I have the movie on my brain! I just know this is going to be one of those weeks, but do I care? Hell no!
If you read my posts about the trailers, I was on point with my speculations, well, mostly! Ai (Yamada Anna) and Miyuki (Imou Haruka) were in love with the guy in the beginning, Ai’s affections towards Miyuki were fake in reaction to her jealousy of Miyuki and the guy being in a relationship and finally, Miyuki ended up developing feelings for Ai, mostly due to Ai’s assertiveness and Miyuki not getting any despite being together with the guy for years (since junior high to their current third of high).
As for the ending, let’s leave that one on the side for the moment!
When we first meet the two, they were not close, like at all. They were acquainted, in that they were both in the same club and in their first year they were in the same class but when Miyuki goes off to take her insulin and Ai follows after her, she refers to her by her family name, which is a measure of distance as you know!
I still can’t decide if their first meeting in this movie when Ai goes after Miyuki is a calculated move or Ai was still innocent and that she was not aware that Miyuki was her crush’s girlfriend. From my watching I understood it as her finding out with us when she raided Guy’s locker to steal his love letters and it is then that she found out!
But before we go any further, let’s talk about our characters! First of all, Ai is the most complex, or should I say, peculiar character I have seen in recent memory! I believe she was written to be that way because even during the interview, Yamada Anna – the actress that plays her says that she too did not understand, and still does not understand Ai’s character, let alone her relationship with Miyuki!
Ai is on the wrong wavelength, it’s the best way I can think of to describe it! All her relationships, be it with her parents, Ai, her crush on Guy or her friends, it is all wrong! The thing is that she is not a bad person per say, and sure what she does hurts others (something Guy calls her on and wreaks her). She is just ‘straight’ at what she does without filter, which means that she does not think of the consequences, but the funny thing is that it is what ends up making Miyuki fall in love with her in the end and at the same time, end that way of living for her because she is changed by Miyuki’s feelings at the same time.
As for Miyuki, she is the perfect so, nice, home grown, caring and fragile girlfriend material. You just want to stay with her and take care of her and she will give her all to you! You see, something happened in Miyuki’s past which made her decide to live for someone else other than herself! In the beginning, she also believes that she would not live as long as other people but in the end she ends up deciding that she will live longer than everyone of her classmates.
Miyuki is such a great person that were it any other, there is no way this story would have worked given Ai’s character! I most certainly don’t see myself getting behind that kind of relationship, which I guess means that most might not appreciate this movie like I do, now that I think about it, especially when they see a certain portion of the movie, which I confess, got me a bit riled up too but then the ending happened and I was on cloud 9 again. More on this in a little bit!
Continuing the trend that I totally love for 2022, the lead Guy, his name is Tatoe but you all know how we roll around here, no guy names allowed and if the character is not likeable, their name is Dick, if they are likeable, then their name is Guy! Hence, our main guy in here will be referred to as Guy hence forth. There is a Dick in this move too but I probably won’t mention him at all, maybe in passing.
Guy, as you can tell by me not calling him dick, is pretty decent guy. He is faithful to Miyuki, even though he kind of loses points (or maybe gains points?) for never giving Miyuki some affection despite dating for years! Dude never even kissed her! Like, there’s being nice and there is being nay-ce! Oh well, thanks to him denying Miyuki some action, she was a bit more susceptible to seduction, well, if she weren’t already a nice person like I said. Guy is so nice he totally beat the trend when he turned down the main girl, like, who does that?!! And he did it twice! I almost loved him!
Now, I am not saying that he was a dick to Ai, otherwise he wouldn’t be named Guy, no, he treated Ai the way she should be treated! Seriously, that girl was wild! I mean, who sleeps with their love rival in the pursuit of their crush!?! And then she goes and flirts with her best friend’s crush just so she could sneak into the school after hours to steal her crush’s letters?!! And then confess to her crush that she slept with said crush’s girlfriend!?!!
Anyway, Guy was likeable and I totally agree with the way he handled Ai’s desperate advances and putting her down! Too bad it wasn’t enough to snap her to the right course but that was Miyuki’s job all along I guess so all is well that ends well!
The film starts string with a kiss already within the first five minutes! Now, it was a kiss of life more than anything but blight me if I do not count it! And I know that I am skipping all over the timeline and it’s too soon for it but speaking of kisses, there is a whole lot of kissing in this movie that it was shocking! And that is only the kissing. Do not get me started on the advanced levels!
Like, seriously, I don’t think I have showed you all how so off-guard I was caught by this movie! I was not expecting a lot of what I saw in this! The trailers did a great job hiding all the great stuff and what was shown took up very little of the runtime, even though the main thread of Ai being in lust with Guy was still in the background and even when it happened, it was brief, albeit, almost anger inducing when it looked like they were about to do what I hate most – THREESOME!
Welcome to my world, where threesomes are forever banned!
Thankfully, that ship didn’t sail!
Alright, I think it is time I put some logic to this post by laying out the plot of the movie before I lose everyone, including myself!
In a nutshell, Ai is in complete lust with Guy! Despite being a straight forward person, for some reason she had yet to approach Guy, until it is implied that way, with they way she had to use tactics to get to speak with him when we see her try in the movie! She has to pretend to trip or pretend that she needs help with a Math problem (how original Ai!?!) or for him to stay behind to help with the class project (building a life-sized cherry blossom tree using only paper and paper cranes for leaves)!
When we meet her, like I already mention, she was not aware that her crush had a girlfriend, given that the two for some reason decided to act like strangers at school (maybe in public) and despite being together for over 4 years, the very first time they get touchy is during the movie’s pre-climax!
Anyway, it is their last year in High School so I guess it was time Ai made her move but unfortunately, she had to find out that the girl she had kissed to life earlier on (our first kiss) was in fact her crush’s girlfriend who was sending him love letters that she decided upon herself to read as if they were hers! Girl even got to the point of sneaking into the school at night just to steal said letters every time!
Even more unfortunate, Ai finds out that she really did pick the best guy because he was so great, again like I mentioned that he could not betray Miyuki even as Ai was there throwing herself at him, going so far as to strip in class for him after she had just had sex with Miyuki BTW, as if her saying that she cheated with Guy’s girl would somehow get him to like her!
Yeah, Ai was on some other plane of existence in this movie I tell ya!
Guy obviously shut her down so hard, with a bit of word-thrashing, that I almost felt sorry for her! But for some reason, instead of that exchange being a face-heel-turn moment for her to realize her mistakes, it instead made her even worse! Make no mistake, the rejection totally had an effect on her, she like, went full on depressed I was surprised she was not suspended. But then again she was a bright student so I guess the teachers cut her some slack!
Meanwhile, instead of working on getting Guy to get to know her and like her, she was instead spending all her time with Miyuki, flirting with her, making out with her, going out with her, confessing her love for her (THAT IS A LIE) while she drilled Miyuki for some information on Guy, pretending to be digging dirt like a normal girl friend gossiping about love!
She does come clean later on after Ai mentions that Guy was leaving for Tokyo and that she was planning on going with him, which now that I think about it, was the first SIGN. Why? Because From the get go Miyuki did say she was in a relationship with Guy and Ai knew this. She also knew that Guy had applied to a Tokyo school and also knew that he had a high chance to pass so she was aware that Guy would leave anyway so why the sudden mood swings after Miyuki told her that?
We all know why! But Miyuki did not know it! Seriously, that girl was so in lust with Guy she would have done anything to be with him! Kudos again to Guy for being able to resist not once, but thrice that temptation and just continuously telling Ai to give it up! Bro literally told her that he hates people like her that trample over others’ feelings to get whatever they wanted!
Which Ai had been doing all movie; with Ai, with her friends and even with Guy! She hurt him by sleeping with his girlfriend, reading their private letters and yet there she was expecting to be loved by him!
I have seen the movie three times now and it took me that many times to figure out the secret to Ai’s character! It was all in her eyes! Even as she changed expressions and put on smiles, got angry, or seemed sad, or seemed on the verge of a breakdown, her eyes were D.E.A.D! Even when she was fake-affair-dating Miyuki and pretended to laugh, even when she was confessing her love to Guy and seemed angry that he told her she seemed fake, even when she seemed on the verge of tears when he totally shot her down, her eyes remained dead! There was no feelings there! Shit, it pains to even think it but when as she was having sex with Miyuki, it was still the same dead eyes! And second most importantly, when it seemed like Guy sparked something within her in their last meeting and there was sunshine and roses all around, her eyes still were dead!
But then the ending happened!
Miyuki’s only letter to her, happened!
I did not fully get what she was saying in that letter, only a few bits, like finally deciding to live a long life, where before she was pretty pessimistic about life, given her health. Then there was the part about wishing for Ai to show her what she really felt, to show her the real Ai, to open herself to Miyuki, and were she to do that, she would never ever forget that moment. She also thanks Ai for having given her those earth-shattering feelings (during sex obviously).
This of course comes after many a conversation of them wanting to forget what they had done, first way earlier in the movie after their karaoke date when Miyuki says she did not want their friendship to fail because of sour feelings and that she was ready to pretend that the kiss they hard was nothing as she had thought that Ai was just fooling around.
Of course at the time Ai was in full Fucker mode so she got angry fighting for gay right and asking why she had to sit there and listen to those words coming from Miyuki when her feelings were real (FUCKIN LIE!). Miyuki of course is not that kind of girl and she corrects Ai saying that she did not care that a person was a boy or a girl that she knows what feelings are and that she did not wan to forget about the moment as well.
This conversation was followed up by the awesome first FETCHING (Fingersmith dictionary) scene, which got epilogue by Miyuki’s Mom arriving BTW!
Then later after Miyuki tells Ai about her being invited to go to Tokyo with Guy, as they have that sour conversation where Ai reveals that everything was just a sham and that she is in lust with Guy since forever, she also suggests that Miyuki forget about whatever it was they did. To pretend that it was just fooling around!
Understandably, Miyuki is angry for the first time like, ever and I am killing myself for not catching it until the third watch but she says that she finds Ai scary, that her eyes are scary because what did I just say?!
It was all in Ai’s eyes!
They were dead eyes!
It didn’t click with me until the third time watching and sadly, I am sure Haters will use it as ammunition to say that Anna doesn’t know how to act because she seemed to have this same un-feeling look in her eyes but what they will fail to understand is that it was intentional!
Because lo and behold! In comes the ending that totally throws everything into perspective (to be fair it took me three tries to get it but I am not the most intelligent out of humans out there so…)!
After that letter, which to sum it up in my own personal perspective, was Miyuki saving Ai’s life, Miyuki finally deciding, not because of some fantastical illusions of the future (let’s be honest, her and Guy got together in middle of Junior High, had never held hands, nor kissed, nor hugged), she had experienced something in the real life that wasn’t in their fantasy of letters and as per her decision to live for someone else, she finally decided to live for Ai, if Ai would do this one thing, this one thing that she has not done to anyone, heck, not even her parents!!!
If Ai would show her true self to Miyuki, Miyuki would live for Ai. Ai, who was searching for a particular kind of love that mistakenly stumbled upon in her scheming of Miyuki, she would finally have it for real!
The words in that letter were the magic incarnation that was needed!
In the middle of class, Ai all but bolted out of there, ran across the yard to Miyuki’s class, burst in…
EYES ALL FULL OF EMOTION FOR THE FIIRST TIME EVER!!!!
Made her way through the flabbergasted students, towards an equally shocked Miyuki’s seat, knelt down in front of her, took her hand, stared into her confused and shocked and excited eyes, and as everyone and the teacher watched, Ai all but gave herself over to Miyuki and gave to her what she had requested of Ai – her true self through her emotional eyes, by asking Miyuki for them to sleep together again!
I literally felt like a dry well being flooded with a torrent of rainfall!
After a mid-climax that implied a threesome with a depressed Ai and then an eyebrow-raiser where I thought Guy was deciding to love Ai (thank fuck it did not happen and that was the last time we actually got to see him, I see you director! Heck, even in the scene where Ai read the letter from Miyuki, they made a point of showing that Ai did not even once look in the direction of Guy’s seat, which she always did before then, like, was he even there?! Had he already left?! But then we would have been shown him leaving as he was important to both girls! But then where was he? He all but ran away from home and his abusive and controlling father!)
After those moments I really thought we were in for another shitty no balls ending, which would have been all the more infuriating given the fact that it was a female director! But close to the other movies mentioned, this was too ended on a HOPEful note!
Ai choosing to bare her real self to Miyuki out of all people and having the balls to do that in the middle of school class, like, what is even there left to say?!! Miyuki was already a lost cause after all the loving she got from Ai, even as Ai was doing it for her schemes, at least she was telling herself that!
Because there is this scene where Ai is going home from school and she catches her best friend going into a love hotel with Dick (hah, finally mentioned him) and right after, she does a U-turn and heads for Miyuki’s place!
You don’t need to guess what happens!
Our full-on sexing of course!
Like, until I watched STARTING OVER a few weeks ago, my most shocking gay content was HELTER SKELTER and Erika having that role and then sweet Miki in SHISHUNKI GOKKO! This totally blows everything out of the water, firstly, this is Yamada Anna we are talking about here!!!
The only way I can se this being topped is if Korean actress Kim So Hyun, starred in a totally R16 lesbian drama!
In other words, chances are very slim but never say zero!
Damn, I feel like my life has been revitalized just from watching this movie! Five minutes in and my flat mates thought I was turning into the Joker, the way my face was split by a unnatural grin! That ending totally sent me into the stratosphere, especially given the happenings in the climax! Like, I was initially bummed because there wasn’t some side content like what we got with SHISHUNKI GOKKO but then afterwards I was like, the ending is perfect!
It’s still sudden like most Japanese movie but it was much more than what I expected! I was greatly surprised and I am totally putting this one in the top tier category!
Hope you all get to see it too soon. It is Yamada Anna we are talking about here so for sure it will be ripped and shared online soon, if not already!
Have a lovely day.