My Love Story!! / 俺物語!! / Ore Monogatari!! (2015)
Directed by Hayato Kawai
Screenplay by Akiko Nogi
Starring Ryohei Suzuki, Mei Nagano, Kentarō Sakaguchi
Review: The main character Takeo (Ryohei Suzuki) is a teenager but looks like an older, burly man. People are often scared of him because of his looks but he’s actually a kind, helpful person. His best friend, Suna (Kentaro Sakaguchi), looks like a pretty boy and attracts a lot of girls including the ones that Takeo likes. No girls have ever liked Takeo but one day while walking with Suna he saves a girl named Rinko (Mei Nagano) from a harasser. When she thanks him he instantly falls for her. The next day she finds Takeo with Suna near their school. She wants to show her appreciation further by sharing a cake with them.
Rinko’s initial shyness around Takeo causes him to assume that she likes Suna. While disappointed, Takeo selflessly decides to set up Rinko and Suna. However, it soon becomes obvious that Rinko actually likes Takeo but because of his past experiences he can’t believe this. Oblivious to her affections, he continues directing her towards Suna, which hurts her feelings. These moments of “crossed wires” are surprisingly not frustrating (mostly) but only show how much they care about each other and make you want to root for them more.
Another heartfelt aspect of this film is the friendship between Takeo and Suna, which is shown to be strong. Both do not hesitate to tell Rinko how great the other one is. There are also lots of funny moments between all of them. Whenever Rinko does something cute, Takeo will yell Sukida (I like (her)!) mostly in his head. This becomes a running joke throughout the story but there are a couple of dramatic moments where it’s used to great emotional effect. Suna, being the great friend that he is, does hatch a plan to help out clueless Takeo.
What really makes this movie excel beyond the average love story is the acting. Suzuki does the exaggerated facial expressions to great comedic effect and capably portrays Takeo’s larger than life personality. His performance definitely comes from emulating the manga/anime but he is also able to dial it back when needed. In the more serious moments he convincingly shows heartbreak or puts on a brave face. In contrast, Nagano is less dramatic as is appropriate for her character but she also expresses emotions well. She easily changes from a bright smile to disappointment then to a forced smile that hides her hurt feelings. Sakaguchi as Suna is good too although I feel his performance at times is a bit too subtle, like those moments where he gives a knowing or approving smile that is barely noticeable.
I have not seen the anime or manga but I thoroughly enjoyed this live action adaptation. It’s funny, happy and sad at the right moments. There is a nice set of musical themes that are played to match the emotions on screen. The cinematography is also well done and it’s interesting how the camera occasionally shows the perspective from either Takeo looking downwards at Rinko or Rinko looking upwards at Takeo. The interactions between the characters are easy to relate to and their interactions are endearing. It very much reminded me of similar emotions I’ve had in the past with unrequited love. The scenes during the credits are cute and the final after credits scene is hilarious and worth waiting for.
One surprising thing that I discovered after watching this is how young Nagano was at the time of filming. I think she was 15 or 16 so still a teenager while Suzuki was pretty much twice her age. I sometimes have a hard time guessing a person’s age but if she were actually in her 20s I would have believed it. Regardless, the performances are so good that I have a hard time imagining any other actors in the roles. While the age gap might make some uncomfortable there is no physical contact between them for almost the entire movie with only a bit of confused hand holding.
On a final note, I first heard about this on Psycho drama’s list of 10 favorite Japanese rom coms.
Here’s a nice video discussion about the movie but it has spoilers.