Out of the three movies in the loosely based series written by Jae-young Kwak, this was my least favorite, which accounts for the slightly lower rating. Don't get me wrong; there is nothing bad about this movie, but compared to Windstruck and My Sassy Girl, it couldn't compete. The story was predictable and wasn't as original or surprising. It also didn't induce me to the same emotional states as Kwak's other films did.
The hero of the story is Jiro Kitamura played by Keisuke Koide. He is a nerdy, young man who spends every birthday alone. That detail of the story was one of the most compelling parts. I have a large family, so I could never imagine what Jiro feels like every time it's his birthday. The actor did a fantastic job of expressing loneliness and longing for things to be different in his life. There are more poignant scenes that involve his character and future events thanks to the mysterious "woman" who enters his life.
The mysterious cyborg from the future is played by Haruka Ayase. She was beautiful and talented in her role, but I still couldn't help but wish that Gianna Jun was costarring with Koide. After all, this script was one of the ones she wrote in My Sassy Girl. Plus, she has this compelling look about her that Ayase couldn't compete with (which might have been a detriment since the Cyborg was often "expressionless"). Despite my slight disappointment, Ayase was a great cyborg girl. She was tough and fearless both in her protection of Jiro and being available to save the day. She also had impeccable fashion; I loved a lot of the dresses she wore. The two of them had a signature move that was extremely cute (a quality that would have felt out of place with Jun's usual roles). Whenever the cyborg did something good, Jiro would give her a thumb's up sign. She would respond with a thumb's up sign too. I actually found Ayase's character more difficult to act and make believable than Kitamura's because of the complex situations surrounding the cyborg and the eventual ending. Still, both actors complemented each other well and brought the science-fiction story to life for the modern viewer.
A supporting character that added a bit of flair to the film was Jiro's schoolmate played by Kenta Kiritani. He is constantly saying that Jiro's mysterious girlfriend is his perfect woman. The pair of them has some interesting interactions that left me smiling and laughing. Jiro's classmate was a dynamic supporting character that added light-hearted moments which let the viewer see a different side to the main protagonist. After watching this film, I wished that the friends in My Sassy Girl had played a larger role. It was one of the main changes I appreciated when I watched the American remake of My Sassy Girl.
The time line for the movie was a bit confusing, which is to be expected in any film that involves time traveling. The dates never end up making sense to viewers who have no idea about time travel. Of course the attempt of the director to bring everything around “full circle” in order for it to make sense actually makes it worse. Instead, I would rather just accept that there are aspects of the sci-fi and fantasy genre that I will never understand, and that it's ok. The movie starts off on November 22, 2007. This is Jiro's 20th birthday. Some hijinks occur between the main stars, and then the movie flashes forward one year in the future. Now, it’s November 22, 2008, and Jiro is celebrating his 21st birthday. The majority of the drama and action unfolds in the year 2008. The next flash forward doesn't occur till the end of the movie, 61 years into the future. At that point, the flash forward is really a way for the director to tie some loose ends before giving us the not so surprising conclusion. This part of the movie reminded me of some of the points that were made in the Back to the Future series.
The special effects were well done, although some felt a little too dramatic. I liked some of the different powers she had, such as super strength, speed, and the ability to shock people with her eyes. It was especially funny when she did it to Jiro. I also liked the holographic eyes which reminded me of R2D2 from Star Wars. What an interesting way to send a message back to yourself! The scenes where the Cyborg freaks out were also humorous, a bit reminiscent of Poltergeist when her head kept spinning around. When the cyborg came back to the past the in 2008, I felt like I was watching a girlie version of the movie Terminator. The lightning and huddling in the middle of the street reminded me of the original Terminator minus all the nudity. Some of the scenes in the future were also interesting to behold with the subtle sci-fi details.
An important aspect to this film that I enjoyed was seeing the full life-cycle of one of the main characters. I often wonder what happens to the heroes and heroines after you get either a "happily ever after" or not so happy ending. This movie presented lots of possibilities but thanks to time not being linear, there were ways to change the future and the past for the better.
As far as the music went, nothing stood out as amazing or unique compared to Windstruck and My Sassy Girl. It was just adequate.
Camera angles were a bit unique in this film. There were split shots where the cyborg's face would be on the left side of the screen and Jiro's face would be on the right. It was interesting to see them studying the reactions, or lack of reactions, each were met with. There were plenty of panoramic shots that were very important for many of the action scenes. The zoom-ins were also extremely relevant because the viewers were dying to find out if a robot can learn to love, again, reminiscent of another film (this one the anime Key the Metal Idol).
In the end, the movie wasn't unique enough for me. As I watched, I found myself thinking of other films that had similar story lines or certain special affects/powers that the cyborg had. Still, that doesn't detract from the quality of the movie. It's a feel good science fiction, romantic comedy that is a perfect date movie, even if your date doesn't usually like science fiction films.
What did you think of this review?
It is November the 22nd, 2007. Jirou Kitamura (Keisuke Koide) is spending his 20th birthday alone. As he is buying a birthday present for himself in a department store, he catches sight of a 'cute girl' (Haruka Ayase). The girl, who also seems interested in him, follows him to a restaurant for his birthday meal, during which she suddenly states that it's 'her birthday too'. The two of them therefore exchange birthday presents. The girl, who seems unused to things as they are, behaves and speaks in a very bold manner- so much so that she rushes Jirou out of the restaurant without paying and provokes a chase after them throughout Tokyo. As the hijinks ensue, Jirou finds himself charmed by the girl. Unfortunately, after a few hours, the girl insists that she has to leave. After some mysterious words to him, she runs away, leaving him bemused.
The story then moves forward to November the 22nd, 2008. Exactly one year later, Jirou is celebrating his 21st birthday by himself in the same restaurant he ate in with the mysterious girl. All of a sudden, a girl who is the spitting image of her appears in front of him. This girl, however, has been sent to save him from a disastrous fate by a crippled future version of himself- she is, as his future self describes her, a cyborg modeled after the girl he met a year ago. Thus ...