Honey and Clover (2006): "It doesn't suit you to look so happy." - Ayumi
The relationship between two college friends is complicated by the arrival of Hagumi Hanamoto, a beautiful and talented freshman girl related to their art professor.
This live-action story of love is based on the shojo manga series by Chika Umino and the subsequent anime. Emotionally heavy, the dialogue is loaded with pauses filled with ache and longing, but the characters are likable and there are moments where I got lost in the story.
The acting gave me insight into Japanese culture. Let me explain:
I stopped in the middle of watching the movie in order to make sure I got to the Sage Port Grille before the lunch crowd. While I was waiting for breakfast, I was reading an article about Hiroyuki Nishimura, the popular coder who is the creative genius behind Nicodou - a web video service that allows users to plaster their comments directly on to a video (Nicodou is a mash-up of a You Tube video service and 2channel, a free-for-all, unsupervised text posting service).
Nishimura is not your typical Japanese: he's irresponsible, a bit of a rebel and very popular with the young crowd. The Japanese are not accustomed to saying what's on their minds. They tend to internalize their feelings and opinions, and walk the straight and narrow. That's why 2channel and Nicodou are such a phenomenon - kids get on the site and under the cover of anonymity, they say what's on their minds.
Joi Ito, CEO of Creative Commons comments, "Japan is an unhappy culture. The people are lonely and depressed, and the Internet is a release valve." Although Honey and Clover had little to do with the Internet, it made a case for "art" as another form of that release. I think it helped explain why manga and anime are also such a huge phenomenon.
And I'm guessing that Nishimura has to work at maintaining his counter-culture presence. Good thing he's up to the challenge.