Koizora

Title: Koizora aka Sky of Love
Genre: Drama/Romance
Director: Imai Natsuki
Format: Movie, 120 minutes.
Dates: 3 November 2007

Synopsis: In her first year of high school, Tahara Mika is initally freaked by the advances of the punkish Sakurai Hiroki, but eventually comes to see the sensitive and romantic side of him. Their growing affections becomes Mika’s first love, which eventually leads to a tumultuous chain of events over several years.

The Highlights:
Aragaki Yui: Incredibly likable and captivating as Mika.
Cinematography: Great shots of visual beauty, some of which are highly symbolic.
Music: Almost laughably over-dramatic.
Direction: Ambitious, perhaps overly so for a movie.

It is commonly-known trivia that modern-day Japan has become the land of keitai or cellphones, so much so that the penetration rate for them is greater than even that of the personal computer. With the Japanese using cellphones like PDAs, and even as cashcards for subway tickets, it was only a matter of time before the phenomenon became the basis for one of the tragic love stories Japan is so well known for. Adapted from one of the most popular keitai shousetsu (cellphone novels), Koizora is, somewhat like Densha Otoko, the kind of story that just had to be made into a movie; not so much because it is the supposedly true story of first-time author Mika, but because it is a modern love story revolving around a particular trait of modern Japanese society that didn’t even exist not so long ago.

One thing that one would first notice about this movie is the pretty cinematography; every scene is shot with a great deal of attention to the visual aspect, and it shows in just how beautiful, and sometimes even highly symbolic, these scenes can be. The visual beauty of the Koizora world is complemented with the mesmerizing charisma of Aragaki Yui as Mika, and to a lesser extent Miura Haruma as Hiroki. Both the leads are very convincing in their roles as the wide-eyed lass and the surprisingly soft-hearted punk respectively, and together, they make a very beautiful-looking couple.

Unfortunately, the other thing that one would first notice about this movie is how there seems to be a nitro system working on overdrive on the pacing of the storyline; everything just happens too quickly, particularly the initial blossoming of romance between Mika and Hiroki. Critical events seem to come one after the other, and Mika and Hiroki just don’t seem to build up an entirely convincing chemistry with each other. Normally, one could lay the blame on lack of acting chops on the part of the actors, but when one gets the feeling that Aragaki and Miura were under pressure to wrap up each scene as soon as possible, it’s pretty hard to do so in this case.

Moreover, the storyline itself felt amateurish and lacking in impact, again mostly because of the hyperactive pacing. While one might be tempted to lay the blame for this on screenwriter Watanabe Mutsuki and first-time movie director Imai Natsuki (both of whom worked together before on the disastrous Taiyou no Uta(1,2) television serial), the fact that the movie itself clocks the better part of two hours suggests that the pacing of the story was to a degree out of their hands. Indeed, it almost felt as if with just a little more time, and a bit more exposition to make use of that time, Koizora could have crossed the line dividing “cliched” from “classic”. Certainly it was a story with potential; amateurish content, it could have been a great deal better had it more time to develop its plot points.

Ultimately, I could only think of one valid reason why Koizora the movie didn’t quite live up to the potential it displayed; simply put, it bit off rather more than it could chew. Perhaps, it would have been far better off as a television serial, where more time could have been afforded to it for the exposition it needs. As it is, it is nothing special as a Japanese tragic-romance movie, but it is serviceable enough for a movie date with a girlfriend susceptible to this genre.

The Rating: 6
6/10

Reviewed by: Ascaloth

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