Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sky of Love (恋空 / Koizora)

Very Serious

You can trust the Japanese romance stories to stick to almost the same formula each time, and yet still being able to draw the masses to their theatres for dishing out more of the same material. There'll be the melodramatic, over the top sob moments, together with love filled with various forms of tension ranging from competition to the usual blowing of hot and cold, my my, the list just goes on.

Soaring to #1 in the Japanese box office, Sky of Love is actually based on a cell phone novel, and given the proliferation of phones in Japan, there's a ready made audience from this fan base that would flock to the cinemas upon the movie's release of course. It's a high school romance story about a girl, Mika (Yui Aragaki) and her love with punkster Hiro (Haruma Miura), and what a story it is, with teenage sex, rape, pregnancy, and even a miscarriage! And I do confess that I did raise an eyebrow when these incidents come one after another, given that after all, aren't they (the characters) supposed to be underaged to begin with? Not being a prude here and having double standards (like in Juno's case), Sky of Love did load up the pity factor for the audience to feel sorry for the leads. Juno doesn't.

And what's a Japanese contemporary romance story without some form of disease come into play? That probably took the cake and anyone watching the movie could see it coming from a mile away, but we the audience still continue to lap it all up, together with those whispering of sweet nothings, promises to be around forever, etc, and little actions to tug at the heartstrings of loved ones (and the audience's as well). It felt highly manufactured, as if going through an assembly line to incorporate the usual elements when the time came for it, and the usage of cute, symbolic artifacts to represent tokens of love at various stages.

You cannot deny then the wonderful cinematography and whimsical music to put you in the right mood for love, though its 120 minute runtime seemed a tad too long in trying to probably incorporate every major plot development in the novel, what with the introduction of potential love rivals. Yui Aragaki and Haruma Miura with his dyed-white hair seem quite mature to be playing your high school sweethearts, but there's a certain saccharine sweet chemistry between them that would make them your instantly identifiable, and likable characters.

Like I mentioned, there are plenty to frown upon, perhaps even laugh at during the first 20 minutes or so, because of the implausibility of having the most wretched of events befall Mika, and before you begin to wonder why the adults (families on both ends) refuse to take proper action, and the total absence of authority figures to allow the children to take matters into their own hands. Then again, this is a romance movie, not a cop drama, so some suspension of belief is required. Strictly for those who require their regular dose of the usual J-romance chick flicks.

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