There really is nothing like losing yourself in a movie for a couple of hours, and that’s exactly what I did this afternoon. I went to the Watershed in Bristol to see another of the Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Programme films – Love Strikes! (モテキ / Moteki).
Love Strikes! is billed as a rom-com and a boy-meets-girl movie, but it’s a lot more than that. Based on a manga by Mitsuro Kubo (and later a TV drama), this film is fast-paced, colourful, and bursting with fun. Love Strikes! tells the story of 31-year-old Yukiyo Fujimoto, a slightly hopeless Twitter-addict and news writer who can’t seem to get a girlfriend. Despite Tweeting his every movement he only has a few followers, and he remains a nervous ‘second virgin’ (someone who has only had sex once, a long time ago).
However, all of a sudden, Yukiyo experiences ‘moteki’ and finds himself inexplicably popular with the ladies. The Japanese word ‘moteki’ doesn’t really translate well, but I guess you could say ‘period of popularity’, or a time when someone finds their ‘mojo’. During Yukiyo’s ‘moteki’ he falls for Miyuki, a cute magazine editor with a killer smile, but has to deal with the sudden affections of other women, and a rival boyfriend.
What I loved most about this film was the music. Not only was the J-pop soundtrack throughout the film really good, music was used so well in story. Yukiyo draws on the lyrics of songs from ‘idol’ (アイドル) groups and they become the soundtrack to his life. When something happens to him, he either bursts into song and dance or plugs his headphones in and selects the right song for his mood (something I can absolutely relate to!). My favourite scene in the movie was when he realises he has a shot with Miyuki due to his ‘moteki’ and he bursts into Perfume‘s (パフューム) ‘Baby Cruising Love’, dances through the street, and joins in a dance routine with idol group Perfume themselves. I found this fabulous scene online here, and here it is:
Isn’t that brilliant?
The film also featured quite a bit of karaoke, which was great. There was a really funny scene where Yukiyo joins one of his lady friends, Rumiko, in a karaoke bar, and also at times there were lyrics on the screen in a karaoke style.
This film is a comedy, but also shows a quite real side to relationships among young Japanese people. It’s also a really modern film, embracing the latest pop culture trends such as Twitter, YouTube, and idol groups. There’s even a reference to the film The Social Network (a film about Mark Zuckerberg’s creation of Facebook) early on in the film. Twitter plays quite a strong role in the film, as Yukiyo Tweets about his despair and stalks his love interest, reading between the lines of her Tweets and looking at the photos she posts online. One trend I was interested to spot in the film (which I think would have passed a lot of viewers by) was the Twitter trend of adding ‘なお’ to the end of Tweets. ‘なお’ (nao) is pronounced the same as ‘now’, and is often used by Japanese Tweeters to say that they are doing something ‘now’. I think the usage I spotted in the film was something like ‘ひとりカラオケなお’ (‘karaoke by myself now’). I find it interesting how the Japanese language is evolving with the increased use of social media, and it was fascinating to see such modern Japanese culture portrayed in this film.
Love Strikes! is really funny, touching at times, and super enjoyable. I highly recommend watching it if you get the chance! It doesn’t appear to be out on DVD in the UK yet, but hopefully it will be at some point. Here’s the trailer: