Watching it from the eyes of a gaijin, this is a pleasurable and enjoyable film that brings you back to the basics of love
The notion of having a gaijin (short-form of foreigner in Japanese) as boyfriend is not new. However what sets the film apart from films that concentrate on intercultural interactions is that it is adapted from a manga, which is a truthful account of the author's own intercultural relationship experience!
The movie does not go into great detail as to how these two starkly different (figuratively and literally speaking) people got together in the first place. It is as though we must expect the two people who happen to cross path at work to eventually end up together and attain the boyfriend-girlfriend status. However let us not nit-pick at it and recognize that the film has to be fundamentally different from the manga itself! It is but 100-min short so some things have to be forgone and we are thus saved from being bombarded by the laborious process of them getting together.
What is endearing is that this film has accurately captured the essence of inter-cultural communication, especially the Japanese as opposed to Americans. From communicating plainly with words versus communicating with 'eye power', to interpreting meaning of the conversation based on the words used versus interpreting the conversation by feeling the climate and context of the conversation, et cetera. Then we are also presented with the stereotypes that Japanese have on gaijin and vice versa. The challenges faced by non-native Japanese speakers on wordplay, pronunciation, articulation and idiom usage were amongst one of the many illustrations as well. The plot mechanics may look sloppy at first glance, but they were rather purposefully planned to achieve the intended intention: to show the gulf that exists in the intercultural communication with the myriad of real-life illustrations. Moreover, the differences that were highlighted are pretty hilarious and evoke laughter.
Some say the narrative is rather predictable and dull. True enough, that could possibly be the case but it was salvaged with some decent acting from Inoue Mao and her counterparts. You may have known her previously for her role in Hana Yori Dango (aka Boys Before Flowers). There was an especially affecting scene that had a close-up shot of her, and made emphasis the emotions on countenance. It does not necessarily mean that the 'personalized effect' could be achieved just by taking a close-up shot; it was Inoue Mao who made it enduring and makes one empathize and question why love has to be so bittersweet. Veterans Ryoko Kuninaka and Jun Kunimura are also praise-worthy in terms of their acting, though their appearances are brief.
Again, this film could be criticized for having an over-glamorized outlook on intercultural relationships and eventually marriage. However, let's also not forget that narrative was essentially written by the female protagonist, who may be skewed in the way she perceives her darling for the very fact that she is so very in love with him! As such, the cinematic adaptation does a pretty good job in trying to maintaining the balance, at best trying to present both sides of the story.
Consequently, this is but a light-hearted and tender loving movie that is not particularly thought provoking. It's interesting to note that the targeted audience are young women. Therefore to achieve success in this segment of the demographics, the movie had a lovely and cotton-candy sweet atmosphere towards the end. That being said, if you are expecting to watch a highly sophisticated film with mature theme and content, this one probably made a big miss. It is more suitable for those who are just seeking for a movie that has a soothing effect.
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