Miyamoto 宮本から君へ Dir: Tetsuya Mariko (2019)

Miyamoto   From Miyamoto To You Film Poster

宮本から君へ Miyamoto kara Kimi e

Release Date: September 27th, 2019

Duration: 129 mins.

Director: Tetsuya Mariko

Writer: Tetsuya Mariko, Takehiko Minato (Screenplay), Hideki Arai (Manga)

Starring: Sosuke Ikematsu, Yu Aoi, Arata Iura, Kenichi Matsuyama, Tokio Emoto, Kanji Furutachi, Jiro Sato, Pierre Taki,

Website IMDB

Miyamoto is based on a seinen manga by Hideki Arai that ran from 1990 to 1994 in the magazine Weekly Morning. This slice-of-life story, based somewhat on Arai’s background, detailed the maturation of Hiroshi Miyamoto, a young man Miyamoto 宮本から君へ Mangafrom Yokohama who is uncertain of himself as he is fresh out of college and new to living life in Tokyo. Scenes of work and romance are tied to his struggle to establish himself as a man and start a family and everything is given the gaman/gambarimasu treatment with some shocking moments of violence and lots of hot-blooded emotions as he holds true to ideals of love and honour even if it puts him in a world of hurt.

For many international audiences, this 2019 movie adaptation will be their first contact with the franchise. It is a direct continuation of a 2018 drama. Both the drama and film were written and directed by Tetsuya Mariko, the man who helmed the absolutely bleak portrait of lost youth Destruction Babies (2016). Indeed the movie version of Miyamoto was filmed from September 09th to October 30th after the TV show finished airing in the summer of 2018, and so, a director with a strong vision reunites with a cast of great actors as they adapt the middle part of the manga and the main character, the titular Miyamoto, moves on to romancing a new woman, Yasuko.

For the uninitiated, Miyamoto (Sosuke Ikematsu) has a job at a stationery company as a salesman. He’s not very good since he is clumsy and has no idea what he wants to do with his life but he is also a nice guy with a sense of justice which is part of what attracts a woman named Yasuko Nakano (Yu Aoi) to him as he declares he will protect her with his life after an unpleasant encounter with her ex-boyfriend. Through a cut-up narrative, we watch as the two fall for each other and court, how their romance enriches their life and gives them both a direction to aim for, and how they face difficulties as the sly and thuggish son of one of Miyamoto’s clients almost sunders the connection between the two and how Miyamoto summons his bravery to seize his future and his happiness with Nakano.

Miyamoto Sosuke Ikematsu Yu Aoi

There is no need to worry about entering this franchise via the film as it works as a standalone experience and even though the source material is from the 90s, it feels like a snapshot of today as the social mores and props/sets are current.

The film has a nonlinear narrative that jumps between different points in the timeline and it serves to obfuscate what is going on. Viewers may find it a little slippery to get a grip on proceedings but visual clues such as Miyamoto’s missing teeth act as markers. Indeed, the disconnected structure creates a sense of foreboding as we are shown moments of violence and division experienced by Miyamoto and Nakano and they acts out as a counterpoint to the happy scenes. This makes the film more compelling to watch than if it were told straight as audiences will be gripped by figuring out how the story will develop instead of just being able to guess the direction.

By the end, the film offers a satisfying resolution to everything after we are carried along by the waves of drama, although this comes with some caveats as a terrible act of violence is visited upon a character and some more critical audience members may form the opinion that it is never adequately addressed and serves as little more than motivation for Miyamoto. The film is still a strong drama as the performers are magnificent while the direction is perfect.

Having Tetsuya Mariko as director means that the film violence is no holds barred and painfully realistic. The flashes of conflict is, indeed, vicious, violent and vile. Meaty punches from ogre-sized bullies pulverise Miyamoto’s face to almost sickening effect and moments such as his head hitting cars doors with a heavy thunk has the look and sound of such a painful impact as to be wince-inducing for the audience. This level of pain builds the commensurate feeling of rage and fear and defiance felt by both Miyamoto and Nakano that feels real and very moving. If it seems like overkill, one need only read the manga and see how exact the film is in capturing it and there are some heart-stopping, nay, insane moments of near-death experience that will have viewers on the edge of their seats.

Miyamoto Movie Image Ikematsu Roars

It isn’t all grit and grime as Mariko brings some stunning moments of beauty and warmth as well as taking us into settings that make the film feel rooted in real life.

The time spent with Miyamoto and Nakano are in places like drunken gatherings with fried food at dingy dives, warm parties in friend’s small apartments, humdrum pokey offices and the warrens of small streets define Tokyo. The more memorable and breathtaking moments come with time visiting their parents, Nakano’s in Hokkaido which takes us to a working class area with the family-run factory and a scene at a beach defined by an oncoming storm complete with a dramatic windswept lightning laced horizon that is breathtaking to view. Then there is the warmer confines of the Miyamoto household in Yokohama where there are scenes of the parents succumbing to the melancholy of parting from their boy who is growing up.

This is all anchored by two towering performances from Sosuke Ikematsu and Yu Aoi who convince as a couple passionately in love and also two individuals who are prepared to fight to carve out their own lives.

Their chemistry is good as they go at their roles with much gusto and really throw themselves into the drama and they will sweep viewers along. They sparkle on the screen when happy, radiate ferocity when angry and offer streams of tears when sad but I was personally moved by the moments of quiet intimacy they shared. The aforementioned beach scene in Otaru, Hokkaido, the way the film gives an honest depiction of how dating can be defined by holding hands, the overwhelming embarrassment and excitement of a kiss in public, the sweet but passionate sex that is accompanied by declarations of love and gales of laughter as both characters enjoy every aspect of their first touches, and the film doesn’t shy away from this thanks to some tactfully shot nudity.

Sosuke Ikematsu really captures the air of a seinen hero whilst Yu Aoi is a firecracker with her defiant attitude. Their committed performances made the drama accessible and beautiful and so I was gripped by the drama, moved by the connection and commitment between characters/performers, and related to the everyday behaviour and pleasures/pains we offer each other.

Miyamoto Movie Image

The whole cast capture the looks of their characters to perfection. With a manga of hot-blooded people, the drama is amped up and the performers meet it with everyone imbuing their roles with a convincing life, so much so that one feels these characters will walk off screen and continue living and that is the greatest tribute that you can give to a drama like this. That it feels real and we want to stay with the characters and see how they will grow and seeing them live their lives to the fullest inspires viewers to do the same. From Miyamoto to us. In that regard, this whole film is a success.

Here’s the awesome end theme:

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