24 November 2013
Movie Review: Almost Gay (itsuka no kimi e / いつかの君へ)
I have decided not to stop my continuing examination of Japanese "boy love" genre of films, by private request. I have to say that this movie can't get any more G-rated. Really. Even the MTCRB would have a hard time giving this movie anything by a G rating.
In short, Noboru (left) is an transfer student and/or outcast at a college for fine arts. Hayase is a student that's part of an "in" barkada. Noboru does his own thing with his photography assignments and the photography professors spends a couple of scenes humiliating him in front of his class. After a slow start, Hayase goes kayaking with Sayuki (his obnxious, loud female friend who clearly has a major crush on him). I still don't understand it but somehow Hayase flips his kayak and then drowns. I assume the water was so cold that he went numb before he could react or he went kayaking and didn't know how to swim.
Anyways, Noboru just happens to be sketching, contemplating, taking photos near shore when this happens. Some people drag Hayase to shore and watch his lifeless body and do nothing. Noboru comes to him and gives him mouth to mouth resuscitation which works. Hayase opens his eyes and says Noboru's family name "Fukami?" This sets the stage for the movie. Hayase is overwhelmed by a now conscious set of conflicting feelings about well, Noboru. Hayase stalking Noboru's neighborhood sees someone that looks like Noboru enter a pub. Hayase discovers Noboru has a twin brother (with bleached blonde hair), named Ryu, who is super extroverted and very social adept -- in contrast to Noboru who has been presented as a super introverted and extremely socially awkward guy.
Hayase then starts this bromance with Ryu at night at the pub while developing a weird friendship with Noboru -- after Noboru warns Hayase to have nothing to do with him. This moves the story along quite nice, frankly. Hayase invites Noboru over for dinner although it turns out he doesn't know how to cook. Noboru volunteers and then insists on doing the cooking since he knows what to do. In the process, Noboru cuts his finger and before you can blink, Hayase has Noboru's finger in his mouth.
Okay, I'll leave the plot summary there to avoid any spoilage although let me leave it with a cliff hanger. Sayuki sees Hayase light on in his flat and goes up and knocks on the door and goes hysterical that Hayase has Noboru over for dinner. Then the plot really thickens.
In looking for a picture for this post, I read some of the reviews, in English, about this and there is a big debate that rages over whether this movie is appropriate a yaoi movie. I don't know since although I understand the broad categorical limitations for yaoi, I don't really understand the subtleties about how this is or isn't yaoi. What I can say is that I loved the ending and had it ended any other way, I would have been very disappointed with the movie. It's a slow movie and could probably have been done in a 54 minute TV hour format but its okay.
At 70 minutes, the world does not end. It would have been nice to have movies like this available to me as a teenager. There was so much high school awkwardness in the movie although the homophobia wasn't the main power-struggle -- a nice change. I know everyone claims that yaoi is written by heterosexual women for heterosexual women but I'm certain that young Japanese gay teens access this content which I think is refreshing to the flood of coming out stories produced in the US and Europe.