This is the fourth year I’ve been to Eiga Sai (a.k.a. Japanese Film Festival) and every year it increases my love affair with the Japanese film industry. I don’t get to watch all the films (though I would want to) but I’m able to check out those that really interest me (mostly those involving the actors/actresses I love). I am able to find most of these films online but I like that these movies get the big screen treatment now and then.
The ones I’ve been able to catch so far are Symphony in August and A Story of Yonosuke. Both are coming-of-age stories but with different points of focus. One major thing differentiating them is that one is an animation (Symphony) and the other is a live-action film (Yonosuke).
Symphony focuses on a high school named Ai who is trying to make it as a singer in Tokyo as a promise to her mother. She got help from one small marketing company of sorts that helped her with her career. It had a rather simple, heartwarming tale that just showed the life from the perspective of one girl. I liked it well enough but I wished they’d cut down on showing her singing entire songs.
As for Yonosuke, well, the title already says what the story is about. We meet Yokomichi Yonosuke (Kengo Kora) (which is apparently an uncommon name in Japan) as a naïve freshman moving to Tokyo for college. His love interest Shoko (Yoshitaka Yuriko) describes him quite accurately near the end of the film as a completely ordinary man that it’s almost hilarious.
I loved how the film revolves around the idea of how one man affects those around him. I originally wanted to watch this film because Ayano Go was a supporting character in it but I was drawn in by the entire narrative. However, I have to say he was a proper distraction for the time he was onscreen.
I told one of my friends how Yonosuke was a reminder of what I loved about Japanese films. They take such simple plots inject it with their brand of weirdness and adorableness and change up the way the film is presented. The story jumps back and forth in time and spoils the ending about ¾ into the story but you don’t feel that it was jarring or that it took away anything from the experience. You still wanted to find out what happened to Yonosuke and how he ended up the way he did. It was a very touching film and one I would wholeheartedly recommend.
Eiga Sai is still ongoing and will be at Shangri-La Mall until Sunday and then the Japan Foundation will be taking it to Cebu and Davao next. You can check the film schedules here and information about the movies here.