Shinichiro Kiyama (Ryunosuke Kamiki) knows if you're about to die. Your flesh becomes transparent. This film is well-acted, moving and emotional. It's a quality film in all respects but one. Obviously that premise doesn't suggest a happy Disney ending, but I enjoyed it. I'd even recommend it.
However it's got some idiot plotting. You reach the end. You're impressed... and then you stop to think. Why didn't they talk to each other? Aoi Kiryu (Kasumi Arimura) clearly knows about his power. He should have just told her what he's seen, instead of fannying about with Movie Misunderstanding Plot Beats.
Similarly, Kiryu had absolutely no reason not to tell him everything. That could have been a huge source of emotional support for him, as someone who understood. (Kiyama who lost his family in a plane accident when he was small and ever since has been lonely and friendless.) Besides, helping him talk more freely about everything might well have prevented those Movie Misunderstandings.
Gyaah. Thinking about this will make you want to climb into the film and yell at her. As with Stolen Identity (but to a much lesser extent), I'm a little shocked that this script was greenlit for production. (It's based on a novel, though.) Almost everything about the film is great. Its hook grabs your imagination. It's sincere. Ten minutes after it's finished, though, you'll also think it's exasperating bullshit.
I'll talk about the story.
Kiyama works in a garage. He's not secretly burning to work in advertising or anything. He's a working-class boy whose only career progression will be within that garage. He takes pride in polishing cars until they're perfect, which annoys at least one of his colleagues. I'll call that gentleman Obnoxious World-Class Dick.
The question is, of course, what would you do if you knew someone was going to die? Would you quietly hate yourself as you stood back and watched Fate do its work? Or should you change the future? At the start of the film, Kiyama doesn't even know that that's possible... but it turns out that saving a doomed person's life will give you intense chest pains. The film's explanation for this is a massive handwave, but emotionally it makes sense. Fate doesn't like being defied. Challenge her too often and she'll come for you instead.
This clearly isn't heading anywhere good... but the film's not gruelling. It's serious, but it also has charm and understated humour. Kiyama's adopted mother (Yuki Saito) kept making me laugh. Even the tragic ending is sad in an uplifting way that you're happy to have watched. That said, though, I got scared halfway through when Kiyama and Kiryu are endearingly talking of marriage and children. They're so nice, and so doomed. There's still half the film left!
This is an excellent film with a strong cast. Ryunosuke Kamiki is a reason to watch anything, while Kasumi Arimura is keeping pace with him. (She's also beautiful.) Incidentally, they'd previously acted opposite each other in the March Comes in Like a Lion live-action films, respectively as Rei and his alarming stepsister, Kyoko. You'll enjoy this film if you watch it, but only if you can forgive a hidden iceberg of movie stupidity.