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First Love (2000)
"Hatsukoi" (original title)

 -  Romance  -  1 April 2000 (Japan)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 196 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 1 critic

Satoka Aida, a 17-year high school student, comes to know that her mothers hospitalization for cancer is disturbing the harmony of her home life... See full synopsis »


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Title: First Love (2000)

First Love (2000) on IMDb 7.3/10

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Credited cast:
Rena Tanaka ...
Satoka Aida
Mieko Harada ...
Shizue Aida
Mitsuru Hirata ...
Yasuhito Aida
Shinichirô Fujiki
Masaki Nishina ...
Akihito Tatara
Makoto Satô
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hineki Mito
Yôji Tanaka


Satoka Aida, a 17-year high school student, comes to know that her mothers hospitalization for cancer is disturbing the harmony of her home life... See full synopsis »

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Release Date:

1 April 2000 (Japan)  »

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First Love  »

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Teenager mends her relationship with her parents through an unexpected discovery
17 November 2004 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

This is a film about a teenager, unable to express herself clearly, learning a lesson in life and through that mending the relationship with her father.

Prior to entering hospital treatment, Satoka's mother is reminded of the tune of an old musical box. Going through her old possessions she finds the box, but not the key. Satoka finds the key, opens the box and discovers a letter to her mothers first love that was never sent. In it her mother wishes to see Fujiki (Sanada of Twilight Samurai fame) one more time beneath the wishing cherry tree. Satoka eventually tracks down Fujiki who turns out to have let himself go. The film focuses on the relationship between Satoka and Fujiki as she attempts to engineer a meeting between the two under the wishing cherry tree.

The film parallels the growing closeness between the surrogate father figure who may be run down but has a spark in him, compared with the deteriorating one with her real father who she sees as a loser. The scenes between Satoka and Fujiki are quite touching as she helps him to connect with reality and bring him out of his shell, while she learns from him how to relate to older men and temporarily forgets her mothers illness.

As with many Japanese films of this ilk (probably not filmed with the art house circuit in mind or by a particularly well known director), the film is highly sentimentalised and at times the pace is very slow. The imagery (linked with the central theme) is also extremely common: falling sakura (cherry blossoms). If you don't already know, sakura is a metaphor for temporality. Just as it reaches its most beautiful moment, it dies and falls as petals. This instant of beauty also contains the moment of death: a theme regularly featured in Japanese literature, films and music. However it is worth staying to the end just to find out how the meeting turns out. How will the pair react to meeting their first love after all these years? And just like with many people, they still feel the pangs and wonder why it went wrong, and think what if ....

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