A new young Japanese director that you may not of heard of, Ryohei Watanebe was 23 years old when he wrote the script; a year later he started to make Shady (2012). Up until then he had only made short films, none of which had a running time of more 5 minutes. Bong Joon-ho's Memories of Murder (2003) influenced the young director in how he seemingly made a quite ordinary murder story into a very interesting and entertaining movie. Watanebe is reputed to be obsessive about small details even teaching our two none smoking actresses to smoke properly! But because of his lack of experience and contact’s, he got his crew together using social media, advertising on the Internet!
The theme of his debut feature film is friendship. This can be very important when you are a young high school student, and when you finally acquire a friend you tend to forgive them anything to maintain a closeness. Our story starts life as a simple, somewhat sensitive tale of two high school student’s who are complete opposites but despite, or perhaps because of outside influences, become friends. Misa Kumada is a lonely girl, disliked and ridiculed by her insensitive classmates because of her appearance. The only time she can let down her guard down is when she is tending her pet parrot or the gold fish in the science lab at the High School. Although somewhat puzzled by the interest shown in her by the good-looking Izumi Kiyose, Misa happily accepts the hand of friendship shown by this popular girl and is excited by the prospect of having a real friend for the first time in her life. But is the angelic Izumi all she seems - her demeanour gradually turning darker and one of the other students goes missing!
|....shares Misa's goldfish.|
Originally a musician/singer, whose song Chameleon is used for the closing credits, Tokyo born Mimpi B, in her first acting role plays Misa Kumada. It was after Watanabe saw her perform at one of her concerts that he asked her to appear in the movie. Izumi Okamura who plays the role of Izumi Kiyose was previously a model for a magazine for 18 months. It was during this period that a friend suggested she audition for an actress role that lead to an appearance in a 30-minute student film which in turn brought her to the attention of Ryohei Watanebe.
Both actresses admitted that the director was pretty hard on them but it paid off with both giving performances well beyond their limited experience. The film, which proves that friendship is not all its cracked up to be, starts quite slowly and it not until you’re a fair way into it that it really starts to take off, but believe me its well worth staying with it. A movie with a certain beauty that’s not always apparent. Probably needs watching more than once?