Fantasia 2012 Review: LOVE STRIKES!

Andrew Mack, Contributing Writer
You've seen it before. It is that all too familiar story of Manga meets Television Drama. Manga and Drama fall in love and make a Movie. Thankfully though, the actual film itself, Love Strikes!, offers a story that is a little more complex than that.

The film takes place one year after the television drama series Moteki. 31-year-old Yukiyo doesn't have a lot of money, any dreams or a girlfriend. He is attempting to start a new life by working as a writer for an online news site. Somehow, he believes that his 34,211 tweets qualify him as suitable for the job. Yet he only has three followers. Suddenly, Yukiyo experiences "moteki" - a period when a man becomes suddenly popular with woman. He begins an online friendship with someone named Miyuki who has responded to one of his tweets. They agree to meet and it turns out that Miyuki is an extremely cute and leggy young woman!

And now Yukiyo finds himself amongst these beautiful women. First, there is the incredibly cute magazine editor Miyuki, with legs up to here, who may or may not be in a relationship with another man. Then there is her friend the beautiful but naive office worker Rumiko, who goes to karaoke bars by herself. They have both become interested in Yukiyo. He tries to calm down, but is shaken by the interests of these women. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Love Strikes! bursts onto the screen with stylish fervor as our lonely Yukiyo waxes philosophical about love and relationships. Quotes dance across the landscape, along roadways and on the ceiling of his messy apartment. Musical numbers, including one with idol group Perfume and a couple staged as karaoke videos, move the narrative forward. These stylish flourishes soon settle down though as Yukiyo engages in relationships with these women who have suddenly appeared in his life. But while they are there they are a lot of fun.

Apart from the high energy musical numbers, social media nuances, and comedic moments the emotions in the story are significantly more complex than any Rom-Com that comes from a western standpoint. The relationships that grow and fall apart in Love Strikes! require far more investment than your by-the-books studio picture. I am inclined to believe that this complexity is reflective of the complexity of relationships in the real world because I'm not speaking from experience here. My social media interactions with women have had the exact opposite effect thus far, so I have to trust One on this one. Though there certainly is a lot of familiar angst about women and relationships in Yukiyo early in the picture. Upon reflection I would be more inclined to say that Love Strikes! is a Romantic Dramedy.

There certainly is a lot to enjoy about Hitoshi One's film; and a lot to reflect on too. Tonal shifts and film length may prove to be the only challenge for this often charming film.
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