I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for this since the release last October. But since I don’t live in Japan, I can’t just waltz into a local cinema to watch it. So now that the Blu-Ray is finally out, let’s see what this movie is all about!
If you wish to not be spoiled, do not exceed past the Impression & Thoughts section as I will be posting a very lengthy recap of the movie in detail below.
IMPRESSION & Thoughts:
To be honest, when I first heard that Matsujun and Ueno Juri will play as a couple in a romantic movie, I wasn’t very keen about it. In my mind, I always thought that Ueno Juri + Tamaki Hiroshi (Nodame pair) is the most perfect combination ever and no one else can surpass. The only other guy who I always support is Eita. Remember Last Friends and Sunao ni Narenakute? Eita has to pair up with her again! I am not satisfied with how Sunao ended (even if they got together in the end) but no, not enough.
That being said, I can’t really imagine seeing Juri with any other guys lol…Also the fact that the only romantic role she ever had was Nodame. I try not to recall Sunao (cast was perfect but plot was really bad) which was a waste. I haven’t watched Shitsuren (haven’t finished really) and so I can’t say who fits Matsujun or has on-screen chemistry with him. Overall, I was skeptical. VERY skeptical.
But 30 mins into this movie, I was dead wrong. They had so much chemistry together! I was even surprised! That said, my biggest worry turned out to be a huge relief. As for the plot, nothing truly original. I think hints were given throughout the movie about Mao’s true identity. Even then, I feel the plot was executed quite well and not too try-hard. I’m not a huge fan of romantic movies to be honest. I always find myself squirming when there are cheesy scenes and all. I’m glad this movie didn’t turn me off, instead, enthralled me. I’m pretty certain it’s the cinematography and camera angles. I want to thank the director for giving us so much amazing scenes. That explains why I ended up with tonnes of screencaps. Soundtrack was fitting (I’ll look out for it) and who can say no to the famous Beach Boys song?
If there’s one thing I have to praise though for this movie, it’s not the plot, not the direction (this comes in a close second). It’s the performance of both Matsujun and Juri. Like I said, great chemistry even though this was the first time working together. I’m thinking how can Matsujun be unpopular with that look? But then he came off convincing as a regular office worker and he worked those comic reliefs as well. As for Juri, I never doubt her even once. I know she’d nail it and she did. I think her character fits her very much and I’m pretty sure there’s no other actress out there who would pass off as Mao as convincingly as Juri. I always have this worry that her acting will be compared to Nodame. Even I begin to compare whenever she plays a slightly playful or quirky role. But fear not, no Nodame (except maybe the one dress she wore which would’ve fitted Nodame lol) but it’s great she handled the character of Mao very well. Actually, her role is harder to play than Matsujun’s Kousuke. *I may sound biased here* I think performance-wise, Matsujun was overshadowed by her.
Anyways, kudos to whoever did the casting. Even the younger versions of both Matsujun and Mao (in particular) was brilliant. I hope to see more of those young stars in future works. Let’s not forget the other side characters, even though they don’t have much screentime but they served their own purpose.
Overall, this is a very good movie. I will watch this again ^^
*Note to Juri fans: Be sure to catch her ongoing drama, Alice no Toge. Having watched her play a dark role there and to watch this as playful and cheerful Mao – that transition is very surreal.
Meet Okuda Kousuke (MatsuJun) who is still single and just…unpopular. He has a younger brother who crashes into his place once in a while when he doesn’t feel like going home. In the opening, we get a glimpse of a fragmented memory during his childhood. There are lots of flashbacks throughout the movie which are very much necessary to explain the background of both Kousuke and Watarai Mao (Ueno Juri).
At the workplace, he invites a girl colleague who he has taken interest in or just trying his luck, but is declined immediately. The girl is already planning to get married with someone else. So basically we know Kousuke is a shy type of person who is not popular, despite his good looks. One day, while meeting a client (lingerie company), he meets an ex-classmate during junior high – Watarai Mao.
Seriously though, I have to give the director or whoever picked the cast, a huge thumbs up for finding the perfect girl to play the younger version of Mao. They’re almost identical!
Upon meeting her, Kousuke, our lead guy, fell head over heels for her. I guess it’s the typical ‘love at first sight’ kind of setting BUT! in the flashbacks, we know Mao who was the transfer new girl in school, was bullied and called stupid. Kousuke defended her and that in turn, caused him to be outcast by the class as well. Since then, they spent time together to study and etc…hence, I won’t call it a typical love at first sight. I think it’s more of a rekindled connection to someone from the past? *forgive me I don’t make sense*
There’s a visible obstacle that Kousuke needs to leap over though. He’s not sure if Mao is still single and available. Moreover, Mao’s boss has taken a liking for her. Boss is a playboy though.
As someone who’s into photography myself, I put in extra focus whenever I see a camera on screen and my brain will start working out what camera are those…I’m gonna place my bet that the camera he’s holding there is Olympus Pen. *just a guess*
Kousuke’s boss thinks the advertisement for Mao’s company is a bit too revealing and doesn’t allow them to go forward. Kousuke then goes around the railways surrounding Tokyo for some research on lingerie adverts.
I like how they portray Mao’s character in the movie. There’s just something so whimsical or magical about her. The english title of the movie is “Girl in The Sunny Place” and so whenever the director films Mao against the sunlight, it just looks very appealing.
I try not to compare this with Juri’s Nodame character. I tried so hard. In the end, I thought there’s a distinct difference in character between Nodame and Mao anyways. Sure, at times, I couldn’t help but notice some Nodame-ish quirkiness in Mao but thankfully, only minimal. I know it’s not fair to always, always compare Nodame with any quirky character Juri plays.
I don’t know about any of you out there, but I would feel awkward taking pictures of those billboards whole day lol..
Matsujun should just be Olympus’s ambassador. I feel like I’m watching a camera advert.
Oh yea, there’ll be tonnes of screencaps, so brace yourself.
Almost every scene I watch, I can’t help but to pause and save the screencap, everything looks so pretty!
You know you’ve been waiting for this! I didn’t see it coming. I saw the trailer last year but this totally, totally, LITERALLY MADE MY HEART FLUTTER!!!
I’m not big on romantic movies to be honest but this sealed my heart. Awwww…..
Okay, I should explain this scene. Basically Kousuke says it’s great to meet her again, even if by chance. Mao then says it’s not by chance and I don’t know what comes over her, she just stands up and kisses him!
Okay, Mao’s not afraid of height and likes to stand on rails.
She scores better than Kousuke even though he was the one who helped her with studies.
Kousuke told her he’ll go to Tokyo and she said she wanted to follow him too. Ahh…kids.
That wasn’t the first time they kissed?! *Last time, Kousuke was the one who kissed her btw*
Back to present.
Can I say again how much I love the cinematography for this movie? A lot of well-thought scenes and camera angles.
Kousuke is afloat in the heavens after the dating began…
Shindo tries to ask Mao out but she already has plans with Kousuke, leaving a dejected Shindo.
Perfect dating spot.
I think some clues are already being given every one and then about Mao’s real identity. Even here, she is saying the fish “looks delicious“. Of course, Kousuke doesn’t think much of it given how quirky and playful Mao is, or was from the start.
Shindo stalks people he likes! HAHA
I think I’ve seen these Enoshima spots before in one of those Hello Project TV.
Kousuke brings her to his favorite spots where lots of cats are staying. There, we get some indication of Mao’s nature. There’s a lady who dresses like a witch (maybe not), that Mao knows. While she asks Kousuke to get somethng warm for her to drink, she chats with the lady. Shindo would’ve been able to overhear their conversation if not for his stupid girl he brings along.
What is Mao’s secret?
She then forces Kousuke to drop by her house – Kousuke is nervous meeting his future father-in-law who is a retired policeman.
Suddenly, Mao bursts out that she’s getting married with Kousuke (who is as surprised as her parents lol).
Mao’s father tells Kousuke about Mao’s situation. Apparently, she has amnesia. She doesn’t recall anything from before 13 years-old which was when she was adopted. Basically, she doesn’t remember where she came from, who her real parents were. Her father worries that she might have a relapse in the future.
Hold it right there, Kousuke! Just how much do you know Mao?
Jeez…they bumped into Uchioda who used to bully Mao. When she finds out that he’s with Mao, she begins calling her names including ‘Pervert’. How does having a messy hairstyle and a pervert relate to each other anyway?
Step it up, Kousuke!
I’m glad Kousuke doesn’t go all RAGE with Uchioda. Instead, he takes the quiet, mature route of telling her straight in the face that both the past and present Mao is more important than anything in the world for him. He walks away with Mao and shame on Uchioda.
Omg, we’re only halfway the movie haha
They got married!
1. He gets the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with.
2. He gets the approval from parents-in-law.
3. He becomes a father.
The list can be long but you get the gist.
LOL Mao names their pet fish after The Beach Boys.
Newlyweds are always sweet to watch.
Even the next door kid is curious.
Mao asks about a scar on his hand, it was from when he tried to rescue a kitten. I have some inkling this is connected to Mao. Somehow.
Mao lost her ring. Amnesia kicking in already?!
Kousuke finds the ring and realizes Mao has been losing weight. The ring doesn’t fit anymore and so Mao wears it around her neck.
Kousuke also notices Brian (one of the goldfish) is missing. *Yes, Mao ate him.
Losing that much weight should be worrying Kousuke! You gotta notice something already…
Mao also begins to have hair fall, a lot. Or should I call it ‘shedding’?
After some checkups at the hospital, the doctor can’t find anything wrong with Mao. Except he tells Kousuke, it might be more of a psychological problem. Mao might have some stress about not recalling her past and it may be taking a toll on her.
Hence, Kousuke meets her father to discuss the issue.
12 years ago, Mao was found lingering, naked, on the road and that was on her birthday. Her father created the name Mao for her since nobody knows her real parents, nothing of her past. Her age was also based on predictions via knowledge test and doctors’ assessment.
Mao is indeed…very mysterious.
Mao begins to show eagerness to spend more time with Kousuke – honeymoon in New York and such.
One day, after collapsing at work, Shindo drives her back to Enoshima. She drops the charm Kousuke once used to lure the kitten he saved.
By now, I think there are certain things viewers should’ve guessed.
Mao is a cat.
According to the cat lady, she may not live until the new year.
Mao keeps getting weaker and weaker. Shindo finally tells her that he heard what she and the cat lady was talking the other day at Enoshima. Sometimes being a stalker to someone you like is not such a bad thing afterall. *This is not directed to you creepy stalkers out there though*
Mao pleads Shindo to let it go and assures him that she’s fine. But Shindo doesn’t know the truth about Mao being a cat. He only overheard the part Mao only has until new year to live.
Kousuke confronts Mao and demands to know what’s really going on. Just when Mao wants to confess her secret, their neighbour kid gets himself in a situation *as you can see below* God knows how he ends up almost falling off…
Mao saves him by leaping out to catch him when his mother can’t hold him back. Cats can leap and land from high places.
Since that incident, Kousuke doesn’t know how to communicate with Mao. He’s probably too shocked. One morning, Mao disappears and her parents don’t remember having a child, her colleagues don’t know who Mao is no matter how much Kousuke asks.
Kousuke’s the only one who still remembers her. He runs back to Enoshima, pleads help from the lady cat but to no avail. Since there’s no turning back and time is running out (they only have till sunset before Mao disappears), they spend the remaining time just doing what a normal couple would.
In the end, Mao disappears, basically everything related to her was erased. Only Kousuke still remembers her, must be the love.
While I thought that’s the end, seems like Mao gets her wish granted. Since cats have 9 lives, so they say, she’s reborn and meets Kousuke at the park. She still wears the ring around her neck ^_^
Wait but does that mean Mao will disappear every once in a while?