JapaneseMikako Tabe
Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You (2010 live-action film)
Medium: film
Year: 2010
Director: Naoto Kumazawa
Writer: Rika Nezu, Naoto Kumazawa
Original creator: Karuho Shiina
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Actor: Haru Aoyama, Haruma Miura, Keiko Yoshida, Masanobu Katsumura, Mikako Tabe, Miku Uehara, Mirei Kiritani, Misako Renbutsu, Natsuna, Ryoka Ihara, Yasuko Tomita
Format: 128 minutes
Url: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1632544/
Website category: Japanese
Review date: 20 May 2022
It's worth a look and I quite like it, but it's nothing special.
The anime, on the other hand, is special, with a protagonist (Sawako) who's one of the all-time greats. She's a walking disaster who looks like Sadako from Ringu and has no self-esteem or common sense, but she's also adorable, bizarrely cheerful and always astonished by the world. This is funny.
The live-action film's Sawako, on the other hand, finds all the heavy, important angles on the character but only sporadically attempts the lighter ones. Her actress, Mikako Tabe, does pretty well both at her dark, gloomy, damaged side and then at her transition to happiness as she finds friends and love. I was particularly impressed by how wholeheartedly they went for the stringy, off-putting J-horror look, which is all-important for the character but not a good look for the actress. (I know how the Japanese entertainment industry works. I'd been expecting everyone to be glowing and beautiful in every scene.)
Sometimes she's even funny. I definitely laughed, occasionally.
The big difference with this Sawako, though, is that this is a more straightforward, realistic portrayal of a schoolgirl with painfully low self-esteem. She's lonely. She puts herself down. She doesn't understand other people. All those things were true of anime-Sawako, but that character had another side too. This one... not so much. It's the same plot, more or less. (They stop before Season 2 of the anime, which is arguably a plus.) The same things happen. However the film feels more generic, because its Sawako is merely a good extrapolation of what that kind of person would probably be in real life. Incidentally, I'd have laughed and laughed if they'd cast one of the actual Sadako actresses from the Ringu series, but unfortunately all the originals would have been too old to play a schoolgirl in 2010. A cameo could have been funny, though.
The cast is respectable. Mikako Tabe (Sawako) and Haruma Miura (Kazehaya) have the hardest roles, in my opinion, because I think they both needed to go beyond the obvious level of what's there on the page. They're both good at what they've identified. Mikako Tabe I've already discussed. Haruma Miura is basically fine and he finds excellent clarity when portraying a young man who's trying to woo a girl and keeps being frustrated by her friends and her cluelessness. A bit like Mikako, though, there's a lightness even in adversity to anime-Kazehaya that Miura doesn't find, which makes his third-act scenes a bit leaden. I always wanted to watch Sawako with Chizu and Yano. When she's with Kazehaya, after a while I started wanting to fast-forward.
(Incidentally, Miura was a successful actor who I've seen in other things, including the live-action Attack on Titan movies... but he hanged himself at the age of 30.)
The supporting cast is solid. Mirei Kiritani gets the strongest material as Kurumi and makes an impact with it. (It's understandable but a shame that she stopped working on getting married and having a baby.) It's a real shame that the film doesn't have room for a proper treatment of the character, but what we have is still good and in some ways it's an interesting angle on Sawako's characterisation that she's calling Kurumi a friend on such brief acquaintance. Arata Iura perfectly embodies Pin, even though the script's given him too much sage wisdom to deliver. I wanted less of Cliche Mentor Pin and more of the dickhead.
Finally, Misako Renbutsu and Natsuna Watanabe are bang on as Chizu and Yano. The moment I saw them, I knew who they were playing even with no dialogue.
This isn't a bad film at all. It's more based in reality than the anime and it's saying important things about communication and accepting people. This Sawako's in more pain. She grows out of it, though, with her friends' help. It can also be funny, from time to time. The romantic resolution with Sawako and Kazehaya is rote, though, and I can't imagine myself ever needing to rewatch this. The anime, definitely. This, though, is just a reasonably good film about romantic and other misunderstandings, set in high school. There are plenty of those.