Thursday, August 20, 2015

Say I Love You (Movie)

Title: Say I Love You (Sukitte Ii nayo)
Writer: Kanae Hazuki (manga), Asako Hyuga
Director: Asako Hyuga
Release Date: 
July 12, 2014 
Country of Origin: Japan 

Mei Tachibana is a high school student. Due to a traumatic incident when she was a kid, Mei has been unable to make friends or have boyfriends. By mistake, Mei then injures the most popular male student named Yamato Kurosawa. Somehow, Yamato Kurosawa likes Mei Tachibana and tells everyone unilaterally that Mei is his friend. One day, Yamato Kurosawa saves Mei Tachibana from a stalker by kissing her. From that kiss, their love story begins.

I don't intend for this to be a long post so there's not a final thoughts section at the end to skip to. I'll try to keep this relatively spoiler free.

Say I Love You is easily my favorite movie adaptation of a manga series, a title Kimi ni Todoke held until this movie came out. It's an adaptation that manages to maintain the essence of both the story and the characters. The two leads, Haruna Kawaguchi (Mei Tachibana) and Sota Fukushi (Yamato Kurosawa) give a spot-on performance of the manga characters. They easily could have walked out of the manga panels and into real life. I also think Rika Adachi did a superb job as Aiko Muto. The self loathing and seething anger leaped from the screen.

The other characters had varying degrees of accuracy. For instance, the movie version Megumi Kitagawa wasn't nearly underhanded enough when trying to win Yamato's affections. (Not to say Arisa Yagi did a poor job. It was just a character change in the script.) I will say that I preferred Kai Takemura's character in the anime and manga better than the movie. I feel like the movie didn't develop him enough, so he's a pale imitation of the original. Again, this isn't an acting issue, but a modification in the script. Movies are shorter so they sometimes have to sacrifice character development of secondary characters in order to leave more time for developing the main characters. Disappointing, but understandable.

I actually thought all the actors did a good job. Even with the minor character adjustments from page to screen, the nature of the story didn't change. It still had all the qualities I love about the manga and anime. Basically, I pretty much love this entire franchise. The order goes anime, movie, and then manga, which I know is weird. Usually the manga would have the number one or two spot for me after I've watched all appropriate adaptations, but I think it's a series that just comes more alive on the screen. Of course this order may change by the completion of the manga series, but this is where I am now.

The movie did a fantastic job bringing the emotions of the characters to life. Mei is a ball of intense feelings and this comes across clearly in the movie. Many of the scenes between Mei and Yamato are tense with pent up emotion. The actors had good chemistry which I think helps in a romance.

One of the things I love about this series, which probably comes across most strongly in the manga series, but is apparent in all its media formats, is the truth that no one is completely bad. Even some of the most villainous characters find redemption in the manga and I feel if the anime would have gotten a second season we would have seen more of that rather than just with Aiko and Kenji. Both characters that you don't like right away in any adaptation.

Like I said, this really isn't a long post and I'm not really deconstructing the movie by any means. I liked the movie and think it's one of the best adaptations of a manga series (don't even get me started on Ao Haru Ride - I'm saving that for a later post) I've ever seen. While minor changes were made to characters and situations, the movie stayed true to the mangaka's creation. Also, One Direction's "Happily" is a perfect fit to this movie (and I'm not a One Direction fan by any means). The song will forever be firmly associated with Say I Love You in my mind.