Kimi ni Todoke Live Action Movie Recap
What to say about this? I am an unabashed Miura Haruma fan and was excited to hear that he was taking on another movie role. This time in the live action adaptation of the popular manga series Kimi ni Todoke (From Me to You) by Karuho Shiina. I did like him in Koizora (his first major film role) and I think I might love him even more in this role as the “refreshing” Kazehaya Shota.
The story of Kimi ni Todoke was serialized by Shueisha in Bessatsu Margaret since 2005 and has been collected into a 13-volume manga series officially completed this month. The series is available in English thanks to Viz Media. The huge popularity of the manga has led to novels, video games, anime, and finally the live action movie.
The story revolves around Kuronuma Sawako. She is a shy, hard-working girl who believes in doing at least one good deed a day. However, due to her resemblance to Sadako from the horror movie The Ring, she is alienated from her classmates who believe that she can see ghosts and that meeting her eyes for more than three seconds will result in a curse.
Things change for Sawako when she makes friends with the popular idol Kazehaya Shota. Soon she begins to open up and come out of her shell and make more friends. Of course, romance blooms as well between Sawako and Shota.
The plot of the movie stays as faithful as time constraints will allow to the manga series. That is always a problem when converting books (comic, manga, or otherwise) into films. You cannot stay completely true and include everything or you will get a really long movie (hence why a lot of manga has been made into dramas which still have problems due to time constraints as well, but not as bad as films). It is a really sweet and touching film and the leads did a great job in bringing these popular characters to life. I think part of what I really liked was that this was a quiet and endearing drama without all the bells and whistles and all the angst you can sometimes get. The story was very sweet in that way. I was also happy to see more of Miura Haruma. He’s definitely a good actor to keep an eye on to see how he will develop and grow.
Tabe Mikako as Kuronuma Sawako
Tabe (starring in winter drama Deka Wanko) plays the protagonist of Kuronuma Sawako. She does a great job of playing the young girl who cannot lift her head and who is always behind the scenes secretly working hard, unnoticed by everyone. We get to see her grow (not as much as in the manga) from the shy, fragile girl to a stronger person who will fight to keep the new friends that she made and who will eventually work up the courage to try and pursue her very first love.
Miura Haruma as Kazehaya Shota
Miura (of Bloody Monday fame) plays the popular Kazehaya who is well-liked by everyone as he is a warm and friendly person. Miura does a great job portraying this character who first noticed Sawako under a cherry blossom tree when she stopped to help him. He saw her rare, beautiful smile and was immediately attracted. Ever since then, she has always caught his eye and he unconsciously (and consciously) watches over her – always asking himself when will this shy, clueless girl finally understand just how he feels for her (hence the title From Me to You).
Aoyama Haru as Sanada Ryu
Aoyama’s role may seem slight in comparison to his other castmates, but he really does play important parts. The quiet Sanada who secretly is in love with childhood friend Chizuru is also good friends with Kazehaya and helps him finally come to understand Sawako’s feelings at the end of the film. He also is instrumental in getting Sawako to understand the difference between “like” and that “special like.” He did really good with his quiet, serious role and his brief moments in which he got to speak really helped him shine (even the one moment where he was silent and just waiting to comfort a broken-hearted Chizu-chan).
Renbutsu Misako as Yoshino Chizuru
Renbutsu does an awesome job as Chizuru. She plays a very tough, sensitive, and naïve girl. Quite the combination that can be challenging to pull off. She is a person who can quickly get mad and prod Sawako to change and she is just as quick to defend her friends and jump in when trouble comes. She was in a one-sided love with Ryu’s older brother. Poor Ryu. Nothing like both of them sharing unrequited loves. Ryu for her and she for his brother. Renbutsu has done mainly films, but has had starring roles in dramas Glass no Kiba, Nanase Futatabi (2008 version), and Q10.
Watanabe Natsuna as Yano Ayane
Watanabe (starring in the winter drama Quarter) does a good job playing Yano. At first she seems as ditzy as Chizuru can be, but she does have a depth to her. She has the most experience with boys and she is also very observant. She realized Kazehaya’s feelings long before anyone else did. She also had suspicions about Kurumi from the get go that proved her radar is dead on. She, unlike Chizuru, is more serious and quiet when dealing with Sawako and helps the introvert open up about her real feelings.
Kiritani Mirei as Kurumisawa “Kurumi” Ume
Kiritani (who starred as child actress Sakura in NatsuNijii) plays a small, yet important role. She plays the girl who likes Kazehaya and who did her best to get Sawako away from him. Kiritani played a convincing character – one who was always in love with Kazehaya, but who always went unnoticed in that department, even though the two got along well together. In the end, Sawako’s straightforwardness allows Kurumi to confess and face her rejection. Kurumi is even instrumental in helping the couple get together as she gets Sawako to face her true feelings for Kazehaya.
We open with Sawako’s birth. Her father, who is a cymbalist in an orchestra, was so excited he left his concert before it started just to be able to meet his new daughter. They gave her a refreshing, pretty name. When she was a child, she was happy to be thought of as a friendly child ghost in a popular story. However, as she got older and her hair got longer, she soon came to be synonymous with the character of Sadako from RIngu. Ever since then, she is always alone and ostracized as people fear her.
Jump to the start of high school. She meets a boy on her way to school. He seemed lost and she points him in the right direction. He is handsome and smiles brightly and thanks her for her help. The cherry blossoms come down and he catches a petal. He gives it to Sawako as it has a unique shape. Before anything more can happen, his friends call out to him and he runs off while Sawako continues to look at the heart-shaped petal.
At school, Sawako continues to be shunned and called Sadako. Meanwhile, the boy she met earlier, Kazehaya, keeps an eye on her. He seems to always notice her whereas other people don’t or when they do, they are frightened. He is the opposite. He is intrigued by this young girl who is always working hard and vigilantly. Their homeroom teacher Pin (played by ARATA), asks about Sawako and Kazehaya adamantly refutes the claims that her gaze can curse you and says that she is hardworking. He then tells Pin that if he is so interested, he should look into the matter himself. This leads Pin to suspect that Kazehaya just might like Kuronuma.
Summer comes and wanting to get closer to this girl, Kazehaya organizes a courage test. Sawako wishes to participate, but is discouraged by her classmates comments about her. That day, Pin corners Sawako and looks into her eyes for three seconds. When nothing happens, he goes on to ask what she thinks about Kazehaya. Sawako replies that she finds him refreshing. Kazehaya passes by and asks her what that means. Pin runs off after telling Sawako that Kazehaya thinks they are insulting him. Kazehaya comes closer and Sawako replies that it is a compliment. This makes Kazehaya happy and he says that she is refreshing, like her name. He then holds out the signup sheet where he had just written Sawako’s name and asks her to come as well. Sawako really wishes to participate and Kazehaya encourages her to come and to open herself up to the other classmates so that they can all understand and like each other. Later he hears boys talking smack about her and tells them off only to collapse from eating spoilt food (which did not help dispel the rumors).
Taking this advice to heart, Sawako approaches classmates Yano and Yoshino (who were talking about her creepiness). They are shocked to see Sawako, but even more shocked when she talks and offers herself up to be a ghost during the courage test. Sawako then conveys how she wants to help, but is afraid to disappoints as she cannot see nor communicate with ghosts. This makes Yano and Yoshino laugh and they begin to realize that Sawako is the exact opposite of her image.
Yano and Yoshino are with Sawako during the test and even give her a drink. The three are starting to understand each other and Sawako is making her first real friends. Kazehaya comes later and is happy to see that Sawako did come, though he was surprised that she was there since she didn’t even bother telling him that she was helping out by playing the ghost. The two then spend time talking and stargazing. A breeze comes and lifts the hair from Sawako’s face and Kazehaya is once again blessed with her rare, pretty smile.
Back at school, Kazehaya receives punishment for not making it to the end of the test (because he hung out with Sawako instead). The punishment? Dating Sawako for a week. This makes Kazehaya made as it is inconsiderate of Sawako’s feelings (she is a girl after all). Kazehaya is then teased for liking Sawako. Not wanting her idol to be misunderstood (he just stands silent and doesn’t deny he likes her, even with Yoshino and Yano joining in and saying that Sawako did not try to seduce Kazehaya earlier), Sawako gets up and declares that it is all a misunderstanding and that Kazehaya was just being nice. She then leaves, wiping away her tears.
Kazehaya catches up and apologizes for the actions of the class. They were sorry when they realized they took the teasing too far. Kazehaya notices they are under the tree where they first met and he asks if she can remember. Sawako does remember! Their conversation is cut short and Sawako then goes on her way home leaving Kazehaya to wonder when she will realize that he truly does like her. He has, in fact, liked her from the moment they met and he saw her smile for the first time under the cherry tree. Now he is just waiting for his feelings to reach her. Since she is innocent and naïve, this will take a while.
The time comes for seats to change and Pin, sympathizing with Sawako, let’s her choose first to the annoyance of the class. After her seat is chose, everyone complains about not wanting to draw the number next to hers. Kazehaya takes this chance to forgo the drawing and sits right next to her, shocking everyone. He is then followed by Yoshino and Yano who wish to become closer with Sawako. Then comes Ryu. These four surround her and their doing this, really touches Sawako and makes her happy.
Later Kazehaya, Sawako, Yoshino, and Yano go to eat ramen together. Sawako is so touched, she can only make a strange face and not eat at first. The others are touched to hear how happy she is to be eating out with friends for the first time. Then in comes Ryu. This surprises Sawako who learns that it is Ryu’s family’s shop and that Ryu, Kazehaya, and Yoshino are all friends from elementary through middle school. When they are done, they part ways. Kazehaya uses going to a convenience store as an excuse to walk Sawako home. Yano sees this and smiles. She is the first to understand Shota’s feelings.
The walk home is quiet and awkward. Sawako keeps her head down and stays far away from Kazehaya. I believe this is unintentional as she is used to people wanting to keep their distance. When her father gets home, he is informed that his daughter had dinner out with friends. This shocks him and makes him happy. Although his happiness is tempered when he learns from his wife that boys just may have been involved as well. Typical father.
We then get to meet Kurumi who notices that Kazehaya is paying Sawako special attention. Jealous, she begins to spread rumors. The rumors call Yoshino a yankee and Yano a slut. The origin of the rumors is said to be Sawako. Added to the rumors is the fuel that Sawako is using her friends to get close to Kazehaya who is too nice to tell Sawako to stay away. If this continues, then all three will be brought low because of Sawako. Hearing this, Sawako quickly backs off and avoids her friends. This confuses and hurts them (and this is just after a happy and concerned Sawako made a handwritten study notebook to help Yoshino on the midterm – after hearing that Yoshino had been too caught up in the sports festival and forgot the midterm was approaching). When they try to get to the bottom of just what is going on, someone always interferes and they can never get the info they want out of Sawako.
An unhappy Sawako practices for the sports day alone, missing her friends when Kazehaya approaches, giving her a soccer ball and asking where the other two girls were. Sawako quickly goes to leave, but Kazehaya won’t let her go and he asks if she is concerned with the rumors. He then tells her that it isn’t her decision to make, but his and the others of whether or not they want to be friends with Sawako. He then encourages Sawako to do her best to hang on to her precious first friends.
Sawako is determined to talk things out with Yoshino and Yano. She is practicing in the girl’s bathroom when she overhears others trashing her friends. She pops out and tells them it is all a misunderstanding and asks them to take back what they said. Kazehaya reaches school and hears from Ryu what is going on in the restroom. Shota immediately rushes and gets Yoshino and Yano who immediately run in just in time to hear Sawako confess how much she loves her two friends. They immediately come to her defense and the other girls leave, but not before Sawako gets them to take back the lies they said about her friends. The three girls then go to the rooftop where the misunderstands were cleared and the three hug and cry. Plan one has failed. On to plan 2.
The sports festival dawns and Sawako, Yoshino, and Yano do well in their soccer match. They then go to watch the baseball match where Kazehaya manages to score a run thanks to Ryu. Celebrating, Kazehaya slaps everyone’s hands. After an awkward pause, he slaps Sawako’s, too. Kurumi, not liking this, approaches and asks to speak with Sawako privately. Yano sees this and is suspicious of this girl, especially when she learns from Yoshino that Kurumi hangs around Kazehaya.
Once alone, Kurumi asks for help from her good friend Sawako in getting the guy she likes. Sawako, wanting to be helpful, immediately agrees only to refuse when she learns it is Kazehaya. When Kurumi asks why, Sawako says that it is because Shota is very important to her. Kurumi believes that Shota is an important friend to Sawako while he is much more than that to Kurumi. Kurumi then tells Sawako to open her eyes and try to talk to other boys, like Ryu. Nothing like trying to get Sawako to get close to another guy in hopes that Kurumi will be able to take Kazehaya away.
Sawako goes and meets with Ryu. The two talk about special feelings and what it means to like someone. Listening to Ryu (and his confession of being in love with Chizuru – his big secret which he asks Sawako to help him keep), Sawako realizes her own special feelings for Kazehaya. Meanwhile, Kurumi and Kazehaya are cleaning up when Kurumi begins plan two. She tells Kazehaya that Sawako likes Ryu. The two then go by where Ryu and Sawako are talking. Jealous, Kazehaya drops the equipment and runs in and drags Sawako off. He then lets go of her hand and apologizes for his actions – but he couldn’t help himself. He then asks if she likes Ryu. Sawako confesses that she does, but it is not that special like. This relieves poor Kazehaya.
Back in the classroom, Ryu shows Yano and Yoshino the note he got and he explained that Sawako (whose name he never gets right as he is bad with names) did come and meet him at that spot. The girls say the handwriting isn’t hers and Ryu mentions Kurumi and Yano puts two and two together. She and Yoshino confront Kurumi (Yoshino is comedic as she had no idea what was going on). Kurumi confesses to everything. Yano and Yoshino want to defend their friend, but Sawako comes at that moment. Sawako refuses to believe that her friend Kurumi could be so bad, but Kurumi confesses she did all of the the girls accused her of as she wants Kazehaya. Yoshino and Yano threaten to tell and go off. Sawako begs them not to as she knows that Kurumi really wouldn’t want the truth known. She then goes back and tells Kurumi that she has special feelings for Kazehaya just like Kurumi. She also says that she still considers her a friend. Kurumi, touched, cries and says she hates Sawako before running off.
At the dissolution of the sports committee, Kazehaya stays behind and apologizes to Kurumi who is shocked to learn that he was not told about her underhand behavior. She then confesses, is rejected and tells him that he has horrible taste in girls before walking off. At least this wasn’t dragged out into something annoying like often seen in manga where one person is constantly attacking and doing horrible things to keep the main couple apart.
Christmas is approaching! Yoshino is excited that her unrequited love will be coming home for the New Year. Poor Ryu, it’s his brother and not him. No wonder he keeps his feelings secret from Chizuru. Yano has an older college boyfriend. Kazehaya asks Sawako out to confess, but his plans are thwarted by the appearance of Chizuru who had asked Sawako to help her shop for new clothes in honor of her crush’s homecoming. Unhappy that he lost his chance, Kazehaya accompanies the girls for awhile, but then leaves.
His next attempt at confession comes when he invites Sawako out to look at the venue for the Christmas party. Chizuru invites herself, much to Ayane’s horror as Ayane knows what Kazehaya really wants is alone time with the clueless Sawako. The day dawns and just as Kazehaya tries to confess, his friends show up soon followed by Yoshino who drags Sawako away to help deal with Yano’s boyfriend issues. Nothing is going his way. When will his feelings reach the girl he loves?
Ayane confesses that her older boyfriend is immature and constantly calls her wondering if she will cheat on him or not, but he has the gall to stand her up on their dates. They pass by Ryu’s shop and Yoshino launches herself into Ryu’s brother’s arms. Shocked by his early appearance. Her happiness is soon dashed when she finds out he is early so he can introduce his fiance. Poor Ryu can only watch while Chizuru’s heart is squashed. The girl’s then go out to eat and all end up crying. Wow. The two girls bow out of going to the Christmas party but encourage Sawako to go talk to her parents so she can go and have fun with Kazehaya. Poor Ryu, in the meantime, is waiting for Chizuru in the spot she goes to whenever she needs to think and wants to be comforted. He even has prepared her beloved steamed buns. Too bad she is out with the girls. Ah, I loved him at this moment.
Determined to ask her parents’ permission to spend Christmas eve at the party, Sawako is shocked to be approached by Kazehaya asking he to go out. Misunderstanding, she tells him she can’t do anything with him that day as she had urgent business. Kazehaya clarifies that he wants her for his girlfriend. Sawako is totally shocked and does the unthinkable. She outright rejects him and then quickly gets on her bus. Poor Kazehaya.
Christmas comes and goes and New Years approaches. Yoshino and Yano come over to visit. Mr. Kuronuma is pleased and worried at the same time (since Yoshino looks tough and Yano wears a lot of makeup). He is then unhappy to hear his daughter cry and wonders just what he and his wife can do. Why does Sawako cry during her friends’ visit? They ask why she didn’t go to the party and what happened to make Kazehaya so unhappy. Sawako tells them of the confession. Yoshino blows up while Yano talks rationally and thoughtfully. Yano encourages Sawako to tell Kazehaya her true feelings otherwise Kazehaya will misunderstand and think something else. They then tell Sawako that they are meeting up with Kazehaya for the new year and that Sawako needs to come, too and express her feelings properly instead of clamming up and only being happy with his confession versus actually being with him.
Sawako is torn. It is the same day as her father’s concert. In the end she goes to the concert, but constantly looks at her watch. Meanwhile, at the festival, Kazehaya is moody and unlike his normal self. Sanada comes and takes him off and the two play catch. Sanada then asks about his confession. This shocks Shota and Ryu tells him that Chizuru let the cat out of the bag. Sanada then asks Kazehaya what he thinks about Sawako. Shota hesitates, but then begins to easily list all these great things about her. Coming to the last one – she always thinks about others and puts them before herself – he pauses and a light bulb goes off. Did he misunderstand Sawako’s reaction when he confessed? Then comes Pin. He has finally found Sawako’s student book which he lost sometime in November when she gave it to him so he could help her get a commuter pass for the bus. She was really upset when it was lost as it contained the note from Kazehaya and the sakura petal as well. He gives the notebook to Kazehaya and tells him to return it. Kazehaya is touched to see the note and petal. Sanada then drags Pin off.
Meanwhile, Sanako goes to her father and explains that there is someone she must absolutely see. Her father tells about her birth and then about meeting her mom. He then says that if she really needs to see this person, then she needs to go no matter what. Sanako thanks him and runs off in search of Kazehaya. Yoshino and Yano point her in the right direction. When she gets to the food stall she learns Shota has already left. She then runs into Kurumi who tells her that Sanada and Kazehaya were playing at the back of the park. Sawako thanks her and runs off. When she gets there, Kazehaya is not there. Drat. She collapses and the New Year dawns with fireworks and snow.
When she gets home, there is Kazehaya! She confesses her feelings and Kazehaya confesses his as well. He then wishes her a belated birthday and hopes that they can be together like this all the time from now on to which Sawako agrees.
And their ends our love story and Sawako’s growth as a person.
We get a few scenes that show Chizuru and Ryu sitting together in their special spot sharing buns (are the officially together?), we see Kurumi and Ayane becoming friends because of their similar tastes in cute accessories, we see Pin being his usual silly self, and we see Kazehaya and Sawako together with Sawako holding tickets to the event that Kazehaya asked her out to when he first confessed.
Then the official end.
I really did enjoy this movie. I enjoyed how un-melodramatic it is compared to a lot of other movies that have the vicious high schoolers, accidents, and illnesses. It is a positive, bright movie that shows the values of love and friendship and how these relationships can make you grow. Can’t wait until the DVD is available in the US.