I stumbled upon this movie when I was casually scrolling through the bottomless pit that is my Tumblr dashboard. Someone I follow had reblogged a couple gif sets of the movie and, of course, the first thing that catches my eye is the attractive face of Sakaguchi Kentaro (who plays Hiromitsu Kosuke). Curious and bored on the last legs of my Thanksgiving break from the endless grind of work, I decided to give it a try in hopes of finding yet another bittersweet love story to add to my ever expanding collection of Asian romance movies.
The movie opens up on our main character, Matsuzaki Hatori, describing how she sees everyone in life as basically a side character or the main character. In her case, the hero of her life is her childhood friend and long time crush, Terasaka Rita, who’s mother left him when he was in elementary school. Hatori assumes the position of the heroine, determined and focused on getting Rita to notice her feelings and reciprocate. One day at lunch, Rita stands up to 2 bullies who’re picking on the quiet, awkward girl in school, Adachi Miho, prompting her to confess her feelings to him in a whirlwind of events that follow. He accepts and they start dating, unfortunately for our main character Hatori. She’s heartbroken and in a moment of super desperateness, tries becoming the “bad heroine” in order to steal Rita back from Adachi by playing the “childhood friend” card.
Through her failed attempts, Hatori meets Hiromitsu Kosuke, a player who catches Hatori off guard during one of her mooping sessions and steals her first kiss. She freaks out to her good friend, Nakajima Kyoko, over the phone and realizes that Rita can NEVER find out about it. Hatori approaches Kosuke during school, trying to ask him to keep the kiss a secret but winds up making a deal with him instead: the kiss stays a secret if she goes on a double date with him and the Rita-Adachi couple.
Kosuke, totally knowing his way around relationships being experienced and what not, becomes Hatori’s fake boyfriend and uses the double date as a way to play Rita into showing his feelings for Hatori, feelings that Rita doesn’t even know exist at this point. These feelings become obvious as Hatori and Kosuke celebrate getting a strike during her round while bowling and Rita looks over with a glare and proceeds to also pull out the “childhood friend” card. After the date, Hatori and Rita end up talking about his relationship with Adachi. It’s this talk that makes Hatori realize how deep Rita’s feelings for Adachi goes, and she decides to give up her crush.
However, this decision goes down the toilet immediately once Adachi asks Hatori to keep Rita company over the summer as she’s out of the country for a while. Hatori sees this as a way to win Rita’s heart back over but Nakajima (and the super cool lunch guy) interjects and tells her that she needs to make Rita come to her first by taking a gap period.
No texting him first.
No calling him first.
Rita has to make the first move.
Hatori crosses off day after day on her calendar, each day going by without contact from him. As she’s camped out one day in an Internet cafe reading a pile of shoujo manga (Ao Haru Ride to be exact – amazing series; highly recommend), Kosuke shows up and takes her out of her Rita-induced slump.
They end up having a good time until one of his ex-girlfriends show up, totally drunk, and starts spouting nonsense. Hatori, getting upset, bursts out a comeback at the girl and stomps out of the apartment, and in her moment of intense vulnerability and confusion, she calls up Rita and asks him to see the fireworks at the summer festival. He says yes.
Now here’s where things get intense.
The festival is going well until Kosuke shows up and starts agitating Rita, kinda forcing him to come to terms with at least some of his feelings for Hatori, and before the night is done, Rita and Hatori share a kiss.
Hatori manages to confess to Rita afterwards but his answer is interrupted by none other than Adachi, who’s back in the country. Rita hints that he’s going to end things with her, leaving Hatori in a bubbly, optimistic state until Rita comes back with his answer and says he can’t end things with Adachi. She had fainted earlier in the day and is apparently sick and needs him to stay by her side. Hatori is devastated and calls Kosuke but decides against it and hits the “end” button before he can even pick up. She sits out in the rain until Kosuke actually comes and find her, basically starting their own relationship from that point on.
It’s all fun and games until the school ski trip, which also happens to be during Kosuke’s birthday. During the trip, Hatori and Kosuke are in a small gift shop when she suddenly realizes that the owner is Rita’s mom who left him. She freaks out and gets everyone distracted by shouting out a name of a famous Japanese actor. Everyone stampedes out, giving her the chance to pull Rita out of the store. Keep in mind that they haven’t talked in a LONG time so the atmosphere is kinda awkward. Especially with both of their significant others right there.
On her way down to meet Kosuke for his birthday night, she gets in the elevator with none other than Rita. They get off on the fifth floor, where the view of the sunset suddenly makes them nostalgic, and as she leaves for her date, Rita raises his phone to snap a picture of her, but he’s too late and the elevator doors close. He’s left standing there, going through his photos and realizing that most of them are of Hatori. That he’s been looking at her all along.
Rita goes and find Adachi in her room. As he enters, he hears her talking, basically trash talking Hatori. It sounds like she’s talking to another person so he barges in the room, finding that she’s actually talking to herself in the mirror. Apparently it’s her way of dealing with pent up stress, anger, and feelings of revenge. She confesses that she’s also been lying about being sick, as a way to guilt trip him into staying with her. They go through an emotional spout that ends with Adachi asking Rita what he was going to tell her on the day he initially meant to break up with her. Hatori, who’s on her date with Kosuke, is also noticeably distracted and spaced out and is asked by Kosuke about the doubts in her heart.
They both begin to come to terms with how they really feel about each other, slowly bringing their emotions into the light. After everything is said and done, they basically sprint to find the other person. During his search, Rita runs into his mother and they leave for somewhere that Hatori tries to find later when she sees Rita sitting on the ledge of a lighthouse. She immediately thinks he’s going to do something bad and runs to go stop him but by the time she reaches the area, he’s not there. She assumes the worst and crumples in a ball on the ground until the click of a camera shocks her to her feet. Rita is standing above her, snapping pictures with his phone. They finally confess their true feelings, kiss, and finally start their relationship, with Hatori finally assuming the role of the heroine.
Ok, to be totally 100% honest, this movie didn’t completely WOW me. Was it funny at some parts? Yeah, but the comedy was only really concentrated in the beginning stages of the movie. Towards the end, there was little, if any at all. The running joke was basically Hatori screaming “NAAA-KAAA-JIII-MAAA” every time she had some life crisis she needed help on.
Was it cute at some parts? Definitely. Kosuke was by far the cutest character in the movie, and I’m not just talking about looks. The way he goes about trying to win Hatori’s heart started off rocky (like seriously…you’re gonna kiss a girl right off the bat?), but he redeemed himself with the whole double date ploy and the teddy bear bit. It straight up melted my heart into a puddle.
Ironically enough, it was the main relationship of the movie, the Hatori-Rita couple, that dampened the whole thing for me. Maybe it’s cause I didn’t read the manga, or maybe it’s cause I was totally rooting for Kosuke (my first time rooting for the second male lead tbh), but for some reason, I wasn’t feelin’ the chemistry between Rita and Hatori. It could be the fact that everything seemed very rushed, but the childhood friend cliche wasn’t doing it for me this time around and I couldn’t overlook the fact that Rita basically cheated on Adachi during the festival when he kissed Hatori.
I don’t care how deep you’re sinking into the feels pool in the moment.
You do not. DO NOT. EVER. CHEAT. ON. YOUR. SIGNIFICANT. OTHER. EVER.
I’m not even going to explain why and if you need me to actually tell you why, you need to reevaluate your priorities. But by that point in the movie, I had basically mentally clocked out until Kosuke came in but it dawned on me during their adorable hug in the rain that Hatori was using him as a rebound.
When the ski trip came around, I already knew where this movie was headed. Sigh.
It was a cute confession. Kinda awkward though honestly cause they were basically saying these things to the person they were going to dump, but the scenery was nice (although painfully set up even though the music was on point).
Although the plot development could’ve been better in my opinion, the character development wasn’t too bad. I enjoyed watching Rita come out of his childhood trauma shell and Adachi going through the “ugly duckling” phase, learning how to be confident in herself. My favorite is, of course, Kosuke’s transformation from a total womanizer into a more sincere person. His was….sorta rushed and not as developed, but I still enjoyed every minute of his screen time. The casting choice for this movie was definitely on point, and probably saved this movie from being just another shoujo adaption on the market.
Rewatch: Maybe – not something I would rewatch on my own