Let’s Dance

 

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Your Lie in April – 四月は君の嘘 Review

こんばんは。Tonight Your Lie in April (四月は君の嘘) was on TV Japan so Koa and I watched it together. Surprisingly, Koa said he had already seen it on the plane when we traveled over Christmas break. I guess he enjoyed it enough to want to watch it again. I’m not sure if it is because there is a lot of musical performance in it, or if he’s now interested in girls/romantic stories, but whatever! I was happy to have his company while I watched it.

******* SPOILERS FOLLOW – YOU MAY WANT TO SKIP DIRECTLY DOWN TO THE TRAILER *********

I’m a fan of Hirose Suzu 広瀬 すず (Anone, Umimachi Diary) and will watch anything that she stars in, so it was great to find a movie of hers on TV Japan, and in HD with English subtitles! w00t! I didn’t know much about the story beforehand except that it’s an adaptation from a manga and I was expecting it to be a very light teen romantic comedy, but it turned out to have a deeper story, and was actually kind of a tear-jerker! I’d categorize it as a “teen romantic musical tragedy”. 😆

Your Lie in April follows the main characters, Kaori (Hirose) and Kōsei (Yamazaki Kento 山﨑 賢人), two musically talented high school students who team up to perform in a musical recital. Actually, Kaori convinces Kōsei, who has quit piano years earlier, to be her accompaniment. Her carefree yet determined attitude helps him overcome his fear of performing, and it seemed like the story will follow the formula of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, both confess their love for each other and they reunite with a triumphant concert performance.

Well, things take a big turn when Kaori falls seriously ill and Kōsei, Kaori, and their two close friends Tsubaki and Watari confront their feelings and confess to their love interests. However, things get complicated and the confessions didn’t make complete sense to me so I was wondering if there was some kind of hole in the plot.

Anyways, the story continues on, with Kōsei telling Kaori in the hospital that he has decided to enter a regional piano competition and that he wants to perform together with her in the future. With this in mind, Kaori decides to undergo a risky operation to cure her terminal illness.

Soon after, she goes into surgery while at the same time Kōsei is performing in the concert. This musical performance was probably the most touching scene in the movie because while he plays, Kaori’s image appears and accompanies him on violin. However, towards the end of the song, she stops playing, lowers her violin, and, shedding tears, fades away, signifying the fact that she did not survive the operation. 😭

"Your Lie in April" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.2, 1/100 sec, ISO250
“Your Lie in April” Cedar Park, 2018

The story picks up a few months later, with Kōsei reading a letter that Kaori had written to him before she had her operation. In it, she reveals how she had known of Kōsei since they were small kids when she saw him at a piano recital. It was then that she decided to play violin in hopes that she could play with him one day. Years later in high school, as her illness became more serious, she decided to live the rest of her life to the fullest and made an effort to become closer to Kosei and his friends in order to make her dream come true. The lie she told (to which the film’s title refers) was that she said she loved Watari (in order to go on a double-date with Kōsei and Tsubaki). The truth was that she was actually in love with Kosei. 😭

I enjoyed the movie a lot more than I thought I would, mainly because the plot made complete sense after Kaori’s letter was read by Kōsei. And Hirose Suzu’s acting is always charming and she can seemingly let the tears flow on command. Yamazaki Kento probably had the most challenging role and did a good job expressing his inner struggles, especially during his piano pieces. Speaking of the musical performances, I read that both Hirose and Yamazaki spent 6 months practicing their instruments before filming. It really shows because they certainly seemed convincing (at least to me).

I really loved the setting of Your Lie in April (movie version) – the Shonan coast. Their high school sat on a hill, with a view of the ocean and Enoshima island. There was even a cool river heading to the ocean that they jumped into from a high bridge. It looked like a great area to live in. I’ve actually taken a couple of day trips down there when I lived in Japan, and it has a really cool, laid-back beach vibe. I loved it.

Although not a truly amazing film, Your Lie in April is a solidly entertaining story with good acting and some touching scenes. And the musical performances are great as well. I recommend it! My rating is 7.5/10.

A Soft Murmur

Do you listen to ambient sounds when you work? My favorite is A Soft Murmur. The website audio is nice, and I also bought the app, so sometimes waves and wind emanate from my phone. 😄 It’s great for reading too!

Mix ambient sounds together to wash away distraction and help you focus or relax

Source: A Soft Murmur

Anone – あのね Review

I just finished up watching the Japanese drama Anone あのね (2018). The 10-episode series was excellent! It’s one of those doramas that I could watch all the way through in one sitting if I had the time. However, I did watch in three sittings, so that was maybe the equivalent of three long movies? I don’t know, but it was so good that I kept wanting more. If only I didn’t have to get up early in the mornings. 😀

***** SPOILERS FOLLOW *****

Anone is a slow-paced and contemplative story, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot going on. On the contrary, there are plenty of plot twists and revelations. You realize early on that each character has a lot of baggage, but they all have goodness in their hearts, some more open about it than others. And that’s part of what kept me interested. What will we learn next about this character’s past, and how does it affect the decisions that drive the plot?

Speaking of plot, there’s one main thread involving counterfeit money, and while that is interesting, I found myself most wanting to know how characters’ interpersonal relationships would unfold. The relationship between Harika and Hikoboshi-kun was the primary romance and had the highest emotional weight. However, a close second was the relationship between Aoba-san and Mochimoto. I liked this relationship because it involved two middle-aged characters who enter their relationship knowing it will be short-lived. So, it was great to see the two romance plotlines, one involving young adults, and one with older adults, develop in tandem.

But wow, episode 9 was super-emotional. The hospital scene where Harika rejects Hikoboshi was so incredibly sad. Harika lying to Hikoboshi with her voice, while denying her lies by shaking her head was an amazing bit of storytelling. One of my favorites scenes ever.

Also in episode 9, the relationship between Aoba and Mochimoto reaches its resolution in another emotional scene. But this one is handled in a more mature and practical way owing to the fact that the characters have more years and experience behind them. It was special in its own way.

Both scenes were based on self-sacrifice, but whereas the hospital scene was filled with youthful innocence and idealism, the scene with Aoba and Mochimoto was one of practicality. Both were amazing to watch and I am feeling emotional again just thinking about them. 😭

From this review so far, you might think this is a dark and sad tale, but there are a lot of funny scenes as well. I found myself laughing out lot several times. Aoba and Mochimoto’s interactions from the very first scene were clever and silly.

Speaking of that opening scene, I was wondering why it involved characters that I thought (from previews) weren’t going to be important. But they were charming and engaging and I was happy that they stayed an integral part of the show. When their story quickly took a turn towards the criminal, I was disappointed. However, that didn’t last long since you could tell that they were honest people who just got dealt a bad hand.

And so it was with most of the other characters as well. Good hearts put in bad situations, through no fault of their own.

I have to mention the “ghost” element of the story. At first, when the ghost appeared, I was afraid that Anone あのね had “jumped the shark”. Thankfully, that element became plausible, interesting, and added a ton of depth to Aoba’s character. It’s amazing how screenwriter Sakamoto Yuji could add so much color to these characters in only 10 episodes. I feel like even the Asadoras, which last half a year, don’t do that very often.

Of course, such interesting characters can lose their impact if the actors portraying them aren’t believable. I’m happy that Anone’s cast was great. I admit my Nihongo is basic at best, but I felt that there was a high level of realism each actor brought to their characters. Hirose Suzu 広瀬 すず was fun to watch, and she had the most emotional scene as I mentioned before. I’ve only seen the 19-year-old actress in Anone あのね and Umimachi Diary, but she’s really good!

The other veteran actors were solid as expected, especially Kobayashi Satomi 小林 聡美 (Aoba) and Tanaka Yūko 田中 裕子 (Anone). I never once thought that the characters were unbelievable or unrealistic.

Last, but definitely not least, is the soundtrack. It’s wonderful. The theme song is intimate and moody, and reminiscent of the best tunes from the Legend of Zelda. There are a bunch of other great songs from the drama as well, I think it would be a great soundtrack to add to your collection.

🎶 Main Theme • 🎶 Blue Sky Blue

I hope you get a chance to watch Anone あのね. It is one of my favorite doramas. I think you’ll enjoy it too!

Friday!

”Napoleon" Austin, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-T10, 39mm, f/3.6, 1/40 sec, ISO1600
”Napoleon” Austin, 2018

Happy Friday everyone!

I’ll just leave you with some clips from one of the greatest movies of all time:

Have a good one!

A New View of the Moon

“We took a telescope around the streets of Los Angeles to give passersby an up-close look at a familiar object: a new view of the moon.”

Very cool video from Youtube channel “To Scale:”

Socks?

"Darn Tough" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.5, 1/60 sec, ISO6400
“Darn Tough” Cedar Park, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

So today I received something that I’ve been wanting for a long time now, but never pulled the trigger on: Darn Tough socks! I know, socks? 🧦 Well, yeah. A few years ago, a friend recommended these socks to me, raving about the quality and the lifetime guarantee. And I read about them and the reviews were almost all positive. But the only downside was the cost. However, I finally rationalized that these socks would last a lifetime, so I spent the $19 on a pair.

Honestly, the thing that pushed me over the edge with buying these is that I opened a new pack of regular socks, and the toe stitching was so uncomfortable and irritating that I couldn’t wear them. I was so disappointed, that I went to Amazon.com and ordered the Darn Tough socks. They arrived today and I’m so happy with them! The socks are super comfy and keep my feet warm. I mentioned in previous posts about how I am often really cold at work and have to bundle up. So, I’m hoping these socks will help maintain my body warmth. Plus, I have to say that the toe stitching is almost non-existent. They are probably the most comfortable socks I have ever worn. And if they ever develop a hole (through normal wear), I can just send them to the company for a replacement! How cool is that?

Anyways, I am stoked with this purchase. I highly recommended Darn Tough socks!

Have a nice evening! 😀

おやすみ