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!
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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