Review: 「スマイル」 (Sumairu/Smile)

Year: 2009
Director: Yasuharu Ishii, Toshio Tsuboi, Akihiko Watase
Screenplay: Takayuki Takuma
Cast: Matsumoto Jun, Aragaki Yui, Nakai Kiichi
There is a plethora of Asian dramas out there, the majority of which suffer from the same ailments: weak, often completely nonsensical plot lines and an overindulgence in clichés and stock characters. The 11-episode Japanese dorama スマイル (Smile, 2009) has none of these faults, but sets itself apart with the pertinent as well as heart-wrenching story of Hayakawa Vito (played by a very tanned Matsumoto Jun), a hardworking half-Japanese, half-Filipino man who always has a smile on his face. Vito has only ever lived in Japan, speaks only Japanese and really knows nothing about Filipino culture yet has suffered from prejudice for being a ‘foreigner’ (‘gaijin’) since childhood. This discrimination makes no sense at all but persists in Japan to this day, with Sumairu courageously putting the issue of racism in Japanese society at the core of this drama. Continue reading “Review: 「スマイル」 (Sumairu/Smile)”

Review: 時をかける少女 (Toki o Kakeru Shoujo – The Girl Who Leapt through Time)

Year: 2006
Director: Hosoda Mamoru
Screenplay: Okudera Satoko
Hosoda’s anime The Girl Who Leapt through Time (Toki o Kakeru Shōjo or short TokiKake) is a loose continuation of a 1967 novel by Tsutsui Yasutaka of the same title and tells the story of 17-year old tomboy schoolgirl Konno Makoto, who after an accident in the chemistry lab discovers that she is able to leap through time. In line with her initially somewhat immature and happy-go-lucky personality, Makoto uses her new ability to improve test grades and avoid her usual mishaps, but soon finds that it is not quite so easy to manipulate events and that self-serving choices have consequences for others. As a result, her close friendship with two classmates – the handsome, studious and kind Kousuke and the more nonchalant redhead Chiaki, who is portrayed as somewhat of a slacker – suddenly becomes more complicated. Continue reading “Review: 時をかける少女 (Toki o Kakeru Shoujo – The Girl Who Leapt through Time)”