Strobe Edge Review [No Obvious Spoilers]

I just got back from seeing the “Strobe Edge” movie! It’s based on a manga of the same title written by Sakisaka Io, who also wrote Ao Haru Ride, which is also very popular. Strobe Edge came out on March 15, White Day (isn’t that cute?) here in Japan, but I didn’t see it till today, April 18th. I enjoyed it very much, and I hope I can convince you to see it and hopefully like it!

All screencaps are from the official trailer and theme song video.

Summary: “Skip Ao Haru Ride and just watch this one instead.”

Now, the Ao Haru Ride movie was pretty awful due to bad acting and the live-action version differed from the manga quite a bit, and came across as unnatural. Strobe Edge was advertised in a trailer right after the Ao Haru Ride movie played, so I think it’s fair to say that they invite comparison. Right off the bat, I had more hope for Strobe Edge, because the trailer is laced with scenes from the manga that show the director was trying to keep the movie in line with the books. I tried reading some of the Strobe Edge manga in preparation for the movie, but I ran out of time and gave up because it was similar in a lot of ways to Ao Haru Ride, and seemed to be taking a long time for the story to get anywhere; so I can only compare the first couple of volumes to the movie, and after that, I have no idea if it differed from the books or not.

The Story

Strobe Edge is about a girl named Kinoshita Ninako, who falls for Ichinose Ren, a boy at her high school. She knows he has a girlfriend, but she confesses her love for him anyway. They continue their school lives as normal, but Ninako continues to be an encouraging presence in Ren’s life, and the story continues…

Ninako-Ren2

The Acting

To begin with, both lead characters absolutely looked and acted the part of the manga characters! Ninako, played by Arimura Kasumi, is adorable and believable as a genki 15-year-old girl who continues to love someone who she thinks can’t love her back. Ren, played by Fukushi Sota, is convincing as a kind person who is working to take care of the people around him. Because of the pacing of the story, we get to see them slowly fall for each other, and so by the time the story finishes, you feel like you’ve seen them through it and that it makes logical sense for them to be together, not like they just “fell together” at the end. I like that!

Now, there were a number of corny scenes in this movie. If I was watching this alone and not at a movie theater, I would’ve laughed. There are two in particular, both with Ren and Ninako, one involving music and one involving her just trying to wash her hands–I won’t say any more, but I wanted to laugh. However, even the corny scenes with those two ended up being fun to watch anyway, because of Ren/Fukushi acting with a straight face. Haha!

Every scene (almost) with Ninako and Ren was my favorite :) Especially all the scenes on the train.

Ninako-Ren1

Ninako-Ren3
Cute!!!! :3

I was less satisfied with Ando Takumi, played by Yamada Yuki. The delivery of his lines was okay, but there was something lacking. He seemed like a less convincing actor than the other two, like in the trailer when he’s staggering back and forth because that’s how tired you get from walking a little too fast in a straight line… (I also really don’t like his hair :/) Although the film was paced well, he seemed to get his nose in Ninako’s business really fast, and become sort of possessive, too–but thinking about it now, there may have been reasons for that, and I would have to see it a second time to be sure.

"Ninako is none of your business. She's MY business!!"
“Ninako is none of your business. She’s MY business!!”

I didn’t care much for Mao (Kuroshima Yuina), because some of her lines felt forced, but part of that may also just be that she reminded me of Narumi, the unofficial Bringer of Annoying Drama from Ao Haru Ride.

The Making of the Movie

There were so many good things about this movie! To start with, the music was lighthearted and set the tone of the movie well. The music played for the important parts of the movie was well-placed and there weren’t any sudden silences to distract from the story (as in Ao Haru Ride…). The music, including the theme song, really carried this movie.

The theme song is called “Aiuta” (Love Song) and is sung by Whiteeeen, who are apparently a 4-member female “sister group” created by the band Greeeen. It’s originally Greeeen’s song, but I like the female version with the rap bridge the best. There’s a full version of the song with scenes from the movie, but the background movie has way too many spoilers and important scenes from the movie, so I recommend not watching it until after you see the film. (You can listen to it here, too–it probably won’t survive on YouTube long.) Here’s an official short version:

Something I also liked about the film was the lighting. For all the important scenes, there was light shining from behind the characters that made the movie feel warm and comforting. The pacing of the movie was really good, as well–introductory things were showed smoothly at the beginning, and the way scenes were spliced in was like a manga and worked very well.

Problems

A problem I had with the film is the level of sexual harassment at the school. There’s one scene where a group of guys is bothering this girl in broad daylight at a big event surrounded by people and for a while no one does anything. Really? Those guys should be in big trouble! >:O I’ll forgive the kabe-don (kind of throwing a girl against the wall to make your confession) as being a staple of girls’ manga, although I’d feel a little awkward if somebody walked in when I was watching the last part of the Strobe Edge trailer.

Whoa, back up there, you're not even dating her yet!
Whoa, back up there, you’re not even dating her yet and it’s the library for crying out loud.

After that, the story does get a little muddled with unnecessary drama toward the end. I think it’s probably manga-based drama, and it was probably acted well, but still. A problem I find myself having with shojo (girls’) manga is that the supposed impediments to their relationship seem so preventable and unimportant. In this movie, the thing that threatens their relationship is so preventable with a little proper communication. Ren is such a good person in this movie, so it was painful watching his character get hurt for what felt like really stupid reasons. Buuuut, no one communicates, so that part of the movie was my least favorite.

Conclusion

Luckily, the ending was so good that you can forget about the pointless drama you had to survive to get there! It even makes somebody like me who doesn’t like hugging people that much want to go out and hug someone right now. I wouldn’t mind seeing it again, so if you need a hug, come see it with me! ;)

I’d give it a 7/10 if you count the whole movie, but for just the scenes with Ninako and Ren I’d give it a lot higher of a rating! <3

5 thoughts on “Strobe Edge Review [No Obvious Spoilers]

  1. Great review! Sounds like a sweet movie… I just loved reading it through your perceptions. Thank you for sharing it!

    1. Thanks! I always wonder what people will think reading this if they don’t usually watch Japanese movies or read manga. It was a very sweet movie! I’m glad you liked reading my review! Makes me happy :) :) :)

  2. Thanks for the review. I agree on some points and I enjoy the movie. But for me, the movie is a huge disappointment. My expectation was so high, I mean, the manga is definitely my favourite, and then there’s Sota!!!! and Kasumi – I love them together since Yowakutemo Katemasu!!! the cutest pair! and the trailer look promising. I was anticipating and excited to watch but I’m disappointed. As much as I love Sota, I have to admit he did wrong to Ren, who is a really complex character, and Sota made him seems very one dimensional. Kasumi is awesome as Nanako tho. and the scenes in the movie just seemed rush and and very messy. It’s like they’re trying to put everything in the movie but didnt really have a proper built up for me to really care on the important scenes. I tried but I couldnt really like the movie.

    And I hate Ao Haru Ride’s manga but the movie is amazing! The actor (i dun really know him) made me fall in love with the character. He really played him well. The movie Ao Haru Ride is definitely my favourite live action movie after Kimi No Todoke. I’m sad that I couldnt add Strobe Edge in the list T-T

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      I didn’t read the Strobe Edge manga, but I would agree from seeing the movie that Sota/Red came off as a “good guy” and not as a complex character. Maybe I would feel differently if I was a die-hard fan of the manga.

      On the other hand, I really liked the Ao Haru Ride manga, especially the beginning (first book), so I was really dissatisfied with the movie for differing from the manga. I thought the guy who played Kou in Ao Haru Ride was good as an actor, but he didn’t “fit” with my idea of what Kou should be like…

      I can’t help but laugh that we both saw these movies and had almost the opposite reactions! Thanks a lot for taking the time to comment. It’s fun hearing feedback from other J-movie fans :)

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