[AKA: ただ、君を愛してる, Heavenly Forest]
I want to be fooled by your lies just a little while longer. -Makoto
Starring: Miyazaki Aoi, Tamaki Hiroshi, Kuroki Meisa, Koide Keisuke, Uehara Misa, Munetaka Aoki, Oonishi Asae
Sagawa Makoto (Tamaki Hiroshi) has an inferiority complex due to the fact that he suffers from what seems to be a form of eczema. He chooses to skip his university entrance ceremony due to his fear of large crowds and meets the strange and childlike Satonaka Shizuru (Miyazaki Aoi). She manages to get him to open up to her, despite the fact that he’s secretly in love with his beautiful classmate Toyama Miyuki (Kuroki Meisa). Shizuru loves Makoto, and wants to love anybody that he loves and becomes friends with Miyuki. She develops a love of photography because of Makoto, and when he asks her what she wants for her birthday, she asks for a kiss. Shortly after, Shizuru completely disappears from Makoto’s life, leaving only letters and postcards from abroad as a trail for him to follow, only to discover tragedy.
Professional review: In this touching and quirky drama, Tamaki Hiroshi portrays Segawa Makoto, a college student who distances himself from people. He is embarrassed about his condition (what appears to be eczema) and always applies his medicine in secret. His phobia of large crowds makes him decide to skip his university entrance ceremony, and he meets a unique girl named Satonaka Shizuru (Miyazaki). Her hair is messy, she wears big glasses, and looks like a child. Not to mention she has a chronic habit of rubbing her nose and sniffing. The two form an unlikely friendship, and Makoto takes her to a beautiful hidden forest to teach her about photography. She thinks it’s their own special place, but Makoto brings his beautiful classmate Miyuki (Kuroki), which at first upsets Shizuru. But she decides to love anybody that Makoto loves, and the three become an inseparable trio. Shizuru runs away from home and has nowhere to stay, and Makoto invites her to stay with him without even thinking. When he asks what she wants for her birthday, she says that she wants a photo of them kissing in their secret forest. Makoto wakes up one morning to a note on the fridge: “Goodbye. Thanks for everything,” and he begins his frantic search for Shizuru, as he realizes his feelings. Letters and postcards from the U.S. begin coming, and Makoto chases after her once again.
Miyazaki delivers a solid performance as a girl who is very careful not to grow up, but wants to become a woman after she falls in love. Shizuru’s character is childlike in appearance and mannerisms, but has adult sensibilities, and the actress was able to capture that perfectly. Not only that, but Miyazaki was able to portray a girl who is unique without seeming forced or overly strange. Shizuru’s character was more about feelings and words than appearance, and she was made into more of an endearing girl rather than being ugly. Her appearance was so different that I didn’t even recognize that it was Miyazaki Aoi at first. This was my second encounter with Miyazaki, and I have to say that I much preferred her role this time to the one in Virgin Snow. I am looking forward to seeing what other roles she can play.
Tamaki’s performance was also wonderful, especially in the beginning when insecurity still made Makoto shy away from people. He was able to portray how a person grows and changes, and Makoto gradually becomes a more outgoing and confident person. Tamaki was at his best when Makoto was in his most conflicted state, and was able to convey to the audience a man who has taken someone for granted and realizes too late that he’s in love. As my first encounter with this actor, I am impressed and will keep an eye on him.
The beauty of this story lies in its truth. Often, we do not know our own feelings until something or someone is removed from our life. It shows how we grow and change throughout our lives and how the people we meet affect us. Most of all, it’s about love. Love as something beautiful and pure, and how it can even be dangerous. This film was akin to Koizora in story material and presentation, so expect a bit of a bittersweet ending.
My thoughts: Japanese movies really suck me in for whatever reason. It’s not that other actors aren’t good, but Japanese films just seem to pull me into the script, so I feel like I’m actually experiencing it. I identify with their characters and experience their joys and sorrows. I didn’t recognize Miyazaki Aoi at all, until she takes off her glasses. I did not like her character very much in Virgin Snow (but boy is she pretty!), but I loved Shizuru. She was cute and to-the-point, and had a unique personality. She was always honest in how she felt, despite making up lies about other things. It’s just that Makoto didn’t always know when she was telling the truth. It takes her disappearance for him to realize exactly how much he loves her, and this was the most moving part of the movie. Frantically searching to the point of hospitalization.
[SPOILER ALERT!] It turns out that Shizuru has a rare disease that matures when she matures. She inherited it from her mother’s genes, and it has claimed both the mother’s life and her younger brother’s. She is very careful to not grow up, but when she falls in love with Makoto, she wants to become a woman that he can love. Neither one is aware that he already loves her just as she is. She eventually matures into a woman just as she said she would, and so does the disease, which claims her life. [/SPOILERS]
Funny that I should mention Koizora in this review, because guess who’s in this? Koide Keisuke, who played Mika’s temporary fiancé (Yuu) and winner of the the True Love award! He’s definitely a cutie, but not enough to overshadow Tamaki’s gorgeous face. I literally could not stop talking at my computer screen every time I saw him. He has a gorgeous profile, and delicious facial structure. And the movie opens with him speaking English (well enough to not be called Engrish), with an adorable accent! I think Japanese accents are super cute.
Of course, the ending of this movie totally killed my good mood, but does sort of deliver a lesson (as Japanese movies tend to do): appreciate what you have while you have before it’s gone. For whatever reason, I did not like Miyuki. I think it had something do with the way she smiles like every character is supposed to fall at her feet in adoration.
Not everyone’s cup of tea to be sure, but I rather liked the way the story is presented. Definitely worth checking out.
Shizuru: Was there any love in that kiss? Even a tiny bit?
Makoto: It wasn’t just a tiny bit. You were my everything.