Japanese romance movies and TV dramas gives you a sneak peek into the rich intricacies and unique characteristics of Japanese culture. Japanese relationships have an innocence and politeness that is distinctively Japanese. Here is a list of the best Japanese romance movies and TV dramas that I would recommend

20. My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday (2016)

My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday - AsianWiki

Japanese Title: Boku wa Asu, Kinō no Kimi to Dēto Suru

Synopsis:

On February 15, 20-year-old Takatoshi Minamiyama (Sota Fukushi), a visual arts undergraduate and satirist in Kyoto, falls in love at first sight with Emi Fukuju (Nana Komatsu) while boarding a train for college. After an awkward first meeting, the two promise to meet again in the following days. With the help of his friend, Shoichi Ueyama (Masahiro Higashide), Takatoshi asks Emi for a date and at the end of their first date, he confesses liking her.

As they begin dating, Takatoshi starts to notice strange things about Emi. She is able to predict things that would happen to him and has the tendency to cry whenever he does something nice to her. She also never spends time with him after midnight and leaves before it hits midnight. They end up spending the night together on March 1st and Takatoshi then discovers Emi’s journal that she had purposely left on the table. Takatoshi is confused because Emi had written her journal entries seemingly backwards where the first page is dated March 16 and the last February 15.

He confronts her the next day and Emi reveals that she is from a world in which time runs backwards. What humans perceive as the future is what she had already experienced as her past, and vice versa. Emi had been watching Takatoshi from afar since he was a child. She was the adult woman who had rescued him from drowning when he was age 5. Because her memories of him fade as time goes on since her time travels backwards, she keeps a journal to remind herself of him. She also tells him that they can only be together for one month every five years, and because 20 is the only year where their ages match, the current month is the last time that they can pursue a relationship.

Takatoshi is shocked by the revelations and initially feels conflicted about what to do with his and Emi’s relationship. However, he is encouraged by his friend, Ueyama, to continue pursuing it. On March 16, the last day that they can be together as equals, Takatoshi draws a sketch of Emi and the two sit at the train station where they first met while they wait for the day to pass. After that day passes, Emi disappears.

They then meet, as Emi had described, only at five-year-intervals. Five years later, Takatoshi meets with 15-year-old Emi and gives her the sketch. Another ten years later, Takatoshi rescues 5-year-old Emi from a festival fire. Emi has a flashback of all their memories together going backwards and ending with her and Takatoshi’s “first meeting” on February 15, the first day of the month that she had met him as equals.

Review: My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday was a nostalgic, bittersweet movie to watch. It was adapted from the best-selling novel by Takafumi Nanatsuji and has a similar theme to “Your Name” (which is covered below). Sota Fukushi is a regular in romance movies and he delivers again here. Both Sota Fukushi and Nana Komatsu are great eye candy and had well-developed chemistry in the movie. My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday revolves around the notions of fate and the passage of time. The movie had some flaws, namely around the immediate attraction of the two characters on the train and how poignant and drawn out the story was. It was a very visually appealing movie to watch but a little weaker in plot.

Overall Rating: 2.5/5

19. Evergreen Love (2016)

Evergreen Love Japanese Movie Streaming Online Watch

Japanese Title: Shokubutsu Zukan

Synopsis: Sayaka (Mitsuki Takahata), a 23-year-old woman who works at a housing company. She is not very good at her job and is always scolded. She is also not very good at cooking and always buys food from the supermarket. She lives alone in an old apartment and doesn’t really have friends. One night, she finds a man, Itsuki (Takanori Iwata), collapsed in front of her home. She takes him inside and feeds him. He eats greedily and this makes Sayaka happy. They begin to live together and Sayaka becomes excited to go home because she knows Itski would be there waiting for her. Itsuki teaches Sayaka about cooking wild herbs and collecting wild herbs. Through their relationship, Sayaka begins to change and stand up for herself at work.

However, Itsuki has a secret and one day he disappears. Sayaka is depressed initially but pulls herself together and continues to strive to be the best version of herself. She still keeps Itsuki in her heart and continues searching for him. One day, she chances upon his event, where he is sharing a book he had published about plants. He turns out to be the son and heir of a famous actor and had run away to avoid the path that his family had wanted for him. He had wanted to find a path that was truly his. They reconcile and get married. The rest of their days are spent in similar harmony to how they had lived together previous with Sayaka continuing to work at her company and Itsuki looking for new plants.

Review: Evergreen Love is a light and easy watch. It has a strange premise that probably can only happen in Japanese movies where she finds him on the streets and “adopts” him into her house. I liked to see how their relationship blossomed and how they each influenced one another to become better and stronger people. One weakness was Sayaka’s character where she started off being bad at everything and not able to do anything for herself, including cook. Overall, a cute movie that gives you warm fuzzy feelings.

Overall Rating: 2.5/5

18. One Week Friends (2017)

Isshûkan furenzu (2017) - IMDb

Japanese Title: Isshūkan Furenzu

Synopsis: High school student and aspiring artist, Yuki Hase (Kento Yamazaki), falls in love at first sight with Kaori Fujimiya (Haruna Kawaguchi), after Kaori helps Yuki by narrowly managing to pass him a French dictionary that Yuki had borrowed from the school library and left behind by accident inside a train. To his joy, Yuki later learns that he and the new girl at school, Kaori, will be classmates for their second year of high school. However, when he goes up to talk to Kaori, she seems to have forgotten their meeting at the train station. He introduces himself again but she rejects his offer of friendship. Yuki later finds out that she had similarly rejected other friendship offers since her transfer to his school three months ago and is thus regarded as a pariah in the school.

Nevertheless, Yuki does not give up and strives for Kaori’s friendship. His efforts attract the attention of his teacher, Mr. Inoue. Inoue tells him that, due to an accident, Kaori suffers from both retrogade and anterograde amnesia, which means that any memory other than that of her parents is gone after one week. Yuki realizes that this is why Kaori didn’t remember their meeting at the train station and why she keeps her classmates at an arm’s length. Undaunted, Yuki makes up his mind to become Kaori’s friend. To remind her of him and other things, he gives her a shared journal through which the two of them can share their memories every week. Through this method, the two of them slowly grow closer and Kaori becomes more and more open to Yuki.

In summer, Yuki invites Kaori to attend a fireworks festival alongside his friends, Shogo Kiryu and Saki Yamagishi. There, Kaori runs into her middle school friends, Hajime Kujo and Mayu Kondo, the former of whom had just transferred from Tokyo to the same school as Yuki and Kaori. Unable to remember them, Kaori attempts to excuse herself but experiences flashbacks when Kujo calls her a “traitor”. She then passes out. When she wakes up, she seems to remember Kujo and their past together.

That autumn, their school holds a fair and Mayu visits the school to meet Kaori. She reveals Kaori’s amnesia to Kujo and Yuki’s friends, Saki and Shogo, and also tells them that she had indirectly caused Kaori’s accident and amnesia. During middle school, when Kujo was transferring to Tokyo, he had confessed his love for Kaori and asked to meet her one last time before he moved away. However, words of his confession had spread in their school and the female students ostracized Karoi because Kujo was popular among the female students. The female students, including Mayu, had cornered Kaori and thrown insults at her. Embarrassed, Kaori had fled them and ended up hit by a car, which caused her amnesia. Following this revelation, Kaori now fully remembers Kujo. Realizing that he could never compete with someone she remembers permanently, Yuki decides to stop befriending Kaori and tearfully burns their shared journal. He politely rejects Saki’s love confession several months later as he still only had eyes for Kaori.

After two spring seasons, Yuki and Kaori graduate from high school. Kaori is asked to called to the library to return a book, which turns out to be the French dictionary that Yuki had borrowed a year ago using her member card. She learns that Yuki has illustrated the contents of their shared journal into flip book drawings inside the dictionary. She finally remembers him and rushes to meet him. Now, she is the one who asks him to be her friend and Yuki accepts.

Review: One Week Friends was a very light watch that didn’t have any particularly dramatic plot twists. Its premise reminded me of “Fifty First Dates” where the female lead has amnesia and only remembers events over a certain time period. This drama captures the sillyness and innocent friendships of high school. It was a little frustrating that nothing major happens – there is no budding romance and the ending happened quite abruptly with them becoming friends again. There were also some plot holes, such as Kajo first transferring schools to Tokyo and then transferring again to Kaori and Yuki’s school within the span of about a year. Overall, not a bad watch if you’re looking for something relatively lighthearted and easy to watch!

Overall Rating: 2.5/5

17. Wolf Girl and Black Prince (2016)

Wolf Girl and Black Prince Japanese Movie Streaming Online Watch

Japanese Title: Okami Shojo to Kuro Oji

Synopsis: Erika Shinohara (Fumi Nikaido) is a first year of high school student. She desperately wants to become friends with her new classmates so that she is not lonely or an outcast. Her clique, however, consists of girls who are talking about their respective boyfriends and when asked whether she has a boyfriend, she lies and says that she does. However, in reality, Erika doesn’t have a boyfriend and soon Erika’s friends start to doubt her story. Erika is also running out of lies to deflect her friends’ questions. One day, Erika sees a pretty boy on the street and in desperation, takes his picture discreetly. She later shows his picture to her friends and introduces him as her “boyfriend”. Unbeknown to her, the boy in that picture is Kyouya Sata (Kento Yamazaki) and he is the most popular boy in Erika’s high school.

She panics and tells Kyouya about her situation and asks him to be her pretend boyfriend to help her. Kyouya agrees but on the condition that she becomes his “dog” by acting at his pet. To her dismay, Erika discovers that Kyoya is far more dark-hearted than the “princely” personality he feigns towards others. He frequently gives her snarks and insults, and generally has a cynical view of the world. Despite this, Erika is slowly attracted to and eventually falls in love with him. Kyoya in turn softens towards Erika and finds out that he is attracted to her as well, something that is cemented when Erika decides to quit being his “dog” after a misunderstanding and he responds by “promoting” her to become his actual girlfriend.

Review: Wolf Girl and Black Prince was a cute movie to watch! The premise of their relationship was relatable as it is common for high school kids to try and find ways to fit in with their “cliques” so that they are not the social outcasts. It was funny to watch Kyoya and Erika’s interactions as they started off as master and servant and slowly evolved to true deep care for one another. Kyoya’s character growth was the most significant as he begins the movie with blackmailing and then tormenting Erika as his “dog”, even making her bark like a dog (“woof”). We then see how he gradually starts to genuinely care for her and become protective of her. Kento Yamazaki is one of my favorite Japanese actors because he does these roles so well. Overall, a cute romance movie to watch!

Overall Rating: 3/5

16. Your Lie in April (2016)

Your Lie in April Japanese Movie Streaming Online Watch

Japanese Title: Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

Synopsis: Kosei Arima (Kento Yamazaki) is a piano prodigy who has won many awards due to his precision, timing, and ability to switch between tempos easily, earning him the moniker “the human metronome”. He had achieved such piano success because he had been meticulously taught by his terminally ill mother, Saki, whose teaching methods were abusive and demanding. She had slapped him when he was 7 years old after a piano competition victory that she had deemed unwarranted. As a result, in his anger, he had declared his refusal to play the piano ever again and wished that she died. Saki did die the following day and this caused Kosei to experience a mental breakdown during a recital, making him unable to hear sounds from the piano anymore. After that incident, Kosei stopped playing the piano in public.

Ten years later, in April, Kosei is invited by his childhood friends, Tsubaki Sawabe and Ryota Watari, to go on a double date with them and Kaori Miyazono (Suzu Hirose), who apparently liked Watari. Kaori is a bubbly children-loving violinist who plays the violin in an unorthodox manner, refusing to follow the cues and instead creating her own flow that nevertheless impresses her audience. One of her music competitions requires her to have a pianist to accompany her, so Kaori forces Kosei to come out of retirement and accompany her. During the competition, Kosei experiences a breakdown again, but Kaori encourages him to try again and restart their recital, despite the fact that it would disqualify her. He successfully plays the piece and while Kaori is disqualified, the organizers liked her performance and invite her and Kosei to play at a gala concert. For the gala, Kaori picks Love’s Sorror, a piece that Saki used to play as a lullaby for her son. Kosei is initially hesitant about performing the piece, but his mother’s pianist friend, Hiroko Seto, tells him that it would be a good chance to prove to his mother that he has become a talented pianist.

However, during the concert, Kaori is unexpectedly hospitalized, and Kosei ends up playing the piece as a piano solo. Kaori is later discharged and, as a punishment for not visiting her in the hospital, she forces Kosei to be Watari’s “substitute” for a date the two had planned. The two visit their school that night and Kaori reveals that she had lied about the “date”. She is still hospitalized but does not want her illness to make her helpless. She faints during the date and Kosei rushes her to the hospital but does not know what else to tell Kaori. Watari correctly deduces that Kosei is in love with Kaori and encourages him to confess to her. Meanwhile, Tsubaki declares her own love for Kosei in anguish and reveals that she had only agreed to introduce Kaori to Kosei because she had hoped that this would make Kosei turn to Tsubaki. Kosei rejects her.

Afterwards, Kosei confesses to Kaori as the two share a meal on the hospital rooftop. He also tells her that he is planning to participate in a piano competition for the first time in ten years. Hearing that he wishes to play music with her again, Kaori decides to undergo a risky surgery scheduled on the day of Kosei’s contest. During the competition, Kosei imagines being aided by an apparition of Kaori playing violin alongside him. However, Kaori does not survive the surgery.

In spring of the following year, Kosei opens a letter written by Kaori to him. He learns that Kaori had been admiring him since they were young children and had decided to study violin so that she could someday play music with him. When she had learned that her illness was terminal, she had decided to live without regrets and transformed her image and personality drastically. She also asks him to apologize to Tsubaki and Watari in her place and tells Kosei that she had loved him all this time and not Watari, which was her lie in April.

Review: Your Lie in April was a bittersweet and emotional drama that was both sad and inspiring to watch. It was touching to watch how Kaori brought Kosei back into the world of music and how Kosei “fulfils” Kaori’s dreams of playing music together. I liked the integral nature of classical music in the movie and the whole film was visually beautiful. Interestingly, filming the movie took only 1 month from October to November 2015, and both actors Suzu Hirose and Kento Yamazaki had actually begun practicing playing the violin and piano respectively 6 months prior to filming. The results of their practice showed as both actors seemed natural playing the instruments on film. I am glad that the movie stuck to the anime storyline even if that meant a sad ending.

Overall Rating: 3/5

15. Paradise Kiss (2011)

Paradaisu kisu (2011) - IMDb

Japanese Title: Paradaisu Kisu

Synopsis: Yukari Hayasaka (Keiko Kitagawa) is a high school student who has become tired of her life of constant schooling. The only thing that hasn’t become boring is her crush for Hiroyuki Tokumori (Yusuke Yamamoto), her classmate. One day, on her way home after school, Arashi Nagase (Kento Kaku) spots her and comes up to her. However, she runs away thinking he is a gangster because of the way he dresses. While running away, Yukari trips and faints into the arms of Isabelle (Shunji Igarashi), a friend of Arashi, who is dressed as a woman and Isabelle carries her back to their studio “Paradise Kiss”.

When Yukari regains consciousness, she meets Arashi’s girlfriend Miwako Sakurada (Aya Omasa) who gives her the nickname ‘Caroline’, and is formally introduced to everyone in the studio, who together are known as the ParaKiss group. They explain that they are a group of student fashion designers who need of a model for their clothing label, Paradise Kiss, as there is a fashion show competition being held at their school. Yukari, however, refuses to be their model because she feels that it is a “waste of time” and that fashion designers are “slackers”. She decides to leave but on the way out, she meets Jouji ‘George’ Koizumi (Osamu Mukai) who is standing at door.

The next day, George meets Yukari at her school and brings her for a haircut by a friend at his school. He also takes her to a fabric store with the ParaKiss members in the hope that she might change her mind. Yukari knows nothing about the fashion world and is taken back by the group’s eccentric ways but eventually agrees to become their model after George takes her to a ‘love hotel’ and confronts her for acting prideful. He tells her that she places the blame on others for her miseries and does not know what she wants out of life.

As they spend more time together, Yukari soon comes to admire the groups free-thinking ways and ability to pursue their dreams with a one track mind which inspires her to become independent and create her own path in life. At the same time, Yukari finds out that her classmate, Hiroyuki, had been childhood friends with Arashi and Miwako. However, when Hiroyuki moved away, Arashi and Miwako grew closer and became a couple. Thus, Hiroyuki could not make contact with them anymore even after moving back because of a bet he and Arashi had made as children.

Yukari’s strict mother, Yasuko (Michiko Hada) confronts Yukari about her studies and Yukari reveals her modeling project and that she does not want to study much for her next mock exam. Her mother slaps her and she moves out of her house and in with George. She also decides to drop out of school and find a job but to her surprise, the job requires applicants to have completed school. George arranges a ‘one-day’ modelling job for Yukari via his hairdresser friend. George then shows Yukari his “special closet collection” which contains all of the dresses he has ever made but no one has worn them before because he wants someone “special” to wear them. Eventually, Yukari begins to develop feelings for George.

When George’s rival, Kaori Asou (Natsuki Kato) decides to visit, Yukari is instantly jealous and confronts Kaori about her feelings for George. Kaori denies having any feelings for him and mentions that she is more of a “career woman” whose only love and goal is fashion as well as the upcoming competition.

George changes the groups’ design at the last minute and the ParaKiss group is left to complete the dress on the day of the competition. This is also their last project as a group because the clothes that they had designed and placed in stores to be sold had ended up being returned without being sold and the group had made a decision beforehand that if the clothes were not sold, they would go their separate ways. This meant that George would fulfill his dream of going to Paris once they graduate. Yukari also calls home and tells her younger brother to tell their mother about the fashion show that she will be walking in.

During the runway practice, Yukari struggles to walk because she is nervous and she regrets not taking the show more seriously before. George reprimands her for being her usual, uncaring self. Isabelle cheers Yukari up and tells her his life story. When he was a child, he had not felt comfortable as a boy and only felt like himself when George had made him his first dress. Isabelle goes on to explain that, to them, clothes are “magical” and give people special courage which is why they’ve designed clothes for so long. Isabelle hopes that Yukari will find courage in the dress that they had made for her. Before her walk, George gives Yukari a butterfly ring (which is also the Paradise Kiss logo) and tells her that she should create her own walk and be like a “butterfly”. Yukari completes the runway walk with elegance and poise and in turn receives a standing ovation. George is mesmerized by Yukari’s walk and they share a kiss after.

Despite Yukari’s mesmerizing walk, Kaori wins the fashion competition and the Paradise Kiss group is officially disbanded. Yukari’s mother goes to the show and asks Yukari to go back home. Yukari packs and leaves George’s apartment without saying goodbye but coincidentally meets George outside. She tells him that she is meeting Hiroyuki for a date in a bid to make him jealous but instead he takes her to buy clothes and makeup and even does her hair for her date. Upset by how George is acting, Yukari runs away but George follows her. She confronts him about his confusing actions – he had kissed after the show but he was now getting her ready for a date with someone else. Yukari tells George that she now knows what she wants out of life and has decided to pursue a modelling career. George wishes Yukari all the best and they part ways. Meanwhile, Hiroyuki is waiting with Miwako and is planning to confess his feelings to Yukari.

George goes back to his place to find Isabelle waiting for him with their bags packed. Isabelle had decided to follow George to Paris and work together with him. The two eventually leave for Paris and Yukari is left heartbroken. Yukari receives a package with a butterfly logo from George containing a key and an address. She rushes off to the place and finds an abandoned building. She enters the room using the key and finds all of the clothes from George’s “special closet collection” and recalls him saying that he wanted someone “special” to have them. Yukari cries as she realizes George’s feelings for her and decides to treasure the wonderful gift he had given her.

A few years later, advertisement posters of Yukari are all over Tokyo and Hiroyuki is crossing the street with another girl. He mentions how Yukari had rejected him when he had confessed his feelings years earlier. Yukari is now a successful model worldwide. She keeps a copy of all her magazine covers on a table in the old ParaKiss studio in hopes that she can one day show them to the ParaKiss members, especially George. One day, Yukari travels to New York for work and discovers a poster of a model wearing a dress with a “butterfly” print on it outside a theater. She finds George’s name on the poster and spots Isabelle going through the back entrance of the theater. Yukari runs after Isabelle and finds out that he and George were in Paris for a while but decided to move to New York later.

Isabelle gives Yukari George’s apartment address and she goes over to find him but he is not there. While she is at the apartment, a wind blows through the window and blows George’s notes all over the place. As Yukari tries to tidy them up, she discovers a large pile of magazines that have her photo on them. She realizes that George had been keeping track of her career and had purchased all her magazines from Japan and around the world throughout the years despite being abroad. At this moment, George comes back to his apartment and is surprised to see Yukari. Their eyes meet and they run to hug each other and kiss.

Review: Paradise Kiss was an interesting movie that had a really unique plot. It is rare to come across a Japanese movie that not only focused on a group of students pursuing their fashion designer dreams but also explored themes of sexual orientation and being comfortable in one’s skin. Paradise Kiss was a feel good movie that saw our characters each chase after their own dreams despite disappointments along the way and they eventually find success and love.

Overall Rating: 3/5

14. Blue Spring Ride

Blue Spring Ride

Japanese Title: Ao Haru Ride

Synopsis: Futaba Yoshioka (Tsubasa Honda) is a 16-year-old high school student who attempts to fit in with her female friends by acting “unfeminine”, due to a history her female classmates ostracizing her out of jealousy. As a result, she feels her life is uninteresting. One day, she reunites with Kou Tanaka (Masahiro Higashide), her first love who had previously moved to Nagasaki in middle school. Kou, who now uses the surname “Mabuchi”, has become a completely different person than she knew back then, as he is now cold and indifferent. When the new school year starts, Futaba decides to make a positive change for herself and volunteers to become the class representative. She is joined by Kou and her classmates, Yuri Makita, Shuko Murao, and Aya Kominato, who all form a bond together.

Futaba learns that Kou’s mother had died after he moved away, and as she helps him process his grief, she falls in love with him again. However, just when Kou is about to move on from his past, Yui Narumi, his friend from Nagasaki, moves to his town, and he stays with her to help her through her father’s death. When Futaba realizes that she cannot change Kou, she decides to move on. When she begins a relationship with Toma Kikuchi, Kou realizes that his relationship with Yui is holding him back and preventing him from accepting positive changes in his life. After he removes himself for good, he begins actively pursuing Futaba. Futaba’s lingering feelings for him complicates her relationship with Toma, and they amicably break up.

During Christmas, Futaba agrees to meet Kou in the same place where they promised to meet years before until his transfer, but it is cut short when Kou is involved in a minor accident. At the hospital, Futaba and Kou admit to each other that they are in love. At the end of the series, the two, along with their friends, move on with their lives as they establish new relationships and accept new changes within each other. Kou changes his surname back to Tanaka, and Futaba believes that something interesting has finally started for her.

Review: I liked that Blue Spring Ride started off with a puzzling question of why Kou had changed so much, from Futaba’s best friend to the cold, aloof person today. I enjoyed learning the back story to their friendship as well as the individual experiences that they had gone through while apart. The main leads had strong chemistry that draws you in and keeps you rooting for them till the very end. The pure, genuine care between friends was really touching as you could see how much Futaba was willing to do to be there for Mabuchi even though she didn’t understand why he was now like that. Their friend gang was also just so wholesome, which brought a deeper level of maturity to the movie.

Overall Rating: 2.5/5

13. Strobe Edge

Sutorobo ejji (2015) - IMDb

Japanese Title: Sutorobo Ejji

Synopsis: First-year high school student Ninako Kinoshita (Kasumi Arimura) has never been in love with anyone until she meets popular schoolmate Ren Ichinose (Sota Fukushi) while boarding the train for school. She gradually falls in love with him as she gets to know him, though she has to face the truth that Ren is already in a committed relationship with Mayuka Korenaga, a model and the older sister of her friend Daiki, whose love confession Ninako rejects and whose subsequent up-and-down relationship with Ninako’s best friend Sayuri Uehara becomes the series’ secondary plot. Through Ren, Ninako is also introduced to his friend Takumi Ando who, despite his womanizing tendency, genuinely falls in love with her.

Ninako and Ren are then thrown into situations that require them to be close together, such as working part-time at the same restaurant and being chosen to buy supplies for the summer festival. Gradually, Ren begins to develop feelings for Ninako, but he is adamant in his choice to stay with Mayuka. Realizing that this act is hurting the both of them, Mayuka chooses to break up with Ren. At the same time, Ando continues to urge Ninako to move on from Ren and be his girlfriend. Once while with Ninako, Ando is confronted by Mao Sugimoto, an ex-girlfriend who cheated him by kissing Ren, causing their breakup and Ando’s friendship with Ren to grow strained.

In the next school year, Ninako gets to be in the same class as Ren and Ando, while Mao enrolls in the same school as them as a freshman, irritating Ando. Ninako and Ren continue to develop feelings for each other. Mao meets with Ninako and urges her to stop following Ren because she wants him and Ando reconcile. When Ando confronts Mao about this, she states that she wants Ninako and Ren to drift apart so Ando can pursue Ninako, to atone for what Mao (who still loves Ando) did to him before. Not knowing the reason, Ninako begins to avoid and ignore Ren, who has begun to pursue her so he can confess. When he does, Ninako declines without reason, and when he insists, she becomes upset and tells him to leave her alone. She is, however, encouraged by Ando to stop pitying him and instead follow her heart. Realizing that what she has done is selfish, Ninako goes after the dejected Ren and confesses to him, which he immediately accepts.

Review: Strobe Edge touches on the theme of unrequited love but even though the characters are in high school, they play out a mature approach to love and endure the pain silently. I really liked the chemistry between the two main characters. Their interactions were sweet and cute, and it was frustrating that the movie kept them just apart. Strobe Edge had this slow, somewhat painful but also sweet burn as you learn more and more how intrinsically good the main leads were but how they had to overcome so many obstacles that were in their way of being together. I was drawn in so completely because I really wanted to see a happy ending and thankfully the movie rewards us at the end with a beautiful one.

Overall Rating: 3/5

12. Enoshima Prism

Enoshima Prism (2013) - IMDb

Japanese Title: Enoshima Purizumu

Synopsis: Shuta Jogasaki (Sota Fukushi) has been friends with Saku Kijima (Shuhei Nomura) and Michiru Ando (Tsubasa Honda) since childhood. As children, Michiru and Shuta, who carried Saku because he has a weak heart, had climbed to the top of a hill and seen a rainbow there together. Years later, Michiru decides to go to England to study but can’t bring herself to tell her friends in person. She gives Shuta a sealed letter and asks him to give it to Saku on the day she is leaving, which is December 21, 2010. Shuta bikes to deliver the letter to Saku but his bike breaks down so he asks to borrow Saku’s bike to get to a basketball game. Saku reads the letter and dies while running at top speed from his house to get to the station to see Michiru off. Shuta feels responsible for his death because he had taken his bike.

After that incident, Shuta and Michiru drift apart and lose contact. Two years later, on December 20, 2012, Shuta attends Saku’s death anniversary. He is picks a memento, which is Saku’s “You’re a Time Traveler” watch, supposedly capable of rewinding time. Shuta takes a train home while wearing the watch and is surprised to find he has returned in time to December 20, 2010, the day before Saku’s death.

On that day, Michiru calls Shuta and Saku to clean the school. To please Michiru, Shuta had put up prisms in the lab’s windows to create a rainbow effect. A basketball team member passes by and is annoyed that Shuta didn’t come to practice with the team. He hits him with a ball and Shuta is suddenly sent back to the morning of December 20, 2012. He goes to the school to meet with Professor Matsudo, his former eccentric science teacher, and discovers that the future had been altered slightly because Matsudo now remembers the prisms in the window. Shuta tries to go back in time again.

On the third time that he goes back in time, Shuta goes again to the school and sees a shamanistic ritual through a window that is supposed to summon the spirit of Kyoko, a girl who had committed suicide there. The science teacher startles him when she comes through a door unexpectedly, dressed for the ritual. The shock sends him back to the morning of December 20, 2012 again. He tries to go back in time again but this time he has forgotten about Saku and Michiru. The science teacher hypnotizes him to try to get his memory back and he meets Kyoko. He learns that Kyoko is not dead but has been a “time prisoner” since World War II and can only be seen by willing time-travelers. Kyoko warns Shuta that time is a law of nature and messing with it could make the future worse rather than better. However, she agrees to help him by showing him the “Jack Fin” technique: he should change as little of the past and do nothing dramatically different. That evening in 2010, he tries to cajole Michiru into confessing her plans to leave for England the next day but she does not confess.

As the day passes from December 20 to December 21, Shuta returns to the year 2012. He find that Saku’s mother had taken an overdose of pills and collapsed at home and realizes what Kyoko had meant. He finds that Kyoko had taken the watch and she begs him not to interfere with time again. She warns him that if he does, everyone’s memories of him, including his, will be completely erased. He will end up like her: invisible to everyone and forgotten. Despite this, Shuta chooses to sacrifice himself to save Saku, and Kyoko gives the watch to him.

Going back in time for the fourth time, Shuta is thrown into the afternoon of December 21, 2010, right before his basketball match. The Shuta from the future quizzes the 2010 Shuta to make certain that Michiru’s letter was delivered. 2012 Shuta then races towards the train station with Saku on his bike and they are able to meet with Michiru. There, Shuta reads Michiru’s letter and is surprised to learn that Michiru does not love Saku, as he had previously thought, but she had loved him. Shuta was able to save Saku’s life, but everyone’s memories of Shuta, except Kyoko’s, are erased. She can’t leave the school, but she promises to never forget him.

Years later, Shuta is shown at the beach picking a prism of quartz. Saku and Michiru walk by, hand in hand, and Michiru comments that the prism is very pretty. Shuta gives the prism to Michiru, who thanks him and they part ways as complete strangers.

Review: Enoshima Prism was another bittersweet and charming movie that tugs at your heartstrings with its twists. It was heartbreaking to watch how Saku’s death had affected all of them and how Shuta was desperate to go back in time and change things. Although time travel is not a novel concept, the plot was interesting and really unique, which made this a good watch. It was heartwarming to watch the three childhood friends as they grow up and you get really invested in the successes and failures of Shuta as he tries to literally rewrite history. His pure love for his friends was really moving. I was a little disappointed by the ending because I had hoped that they would all end up together but the ending kept things more realistic and, in that way, was a better fit for this movie.

Overall Rating: 3/5

11. A Girl & Three Sweethearts

A Girl & Three Sweethearts - DVD PLANET STORE

Japanese Title: Suki na Hito ga Iru Koto

Synopsis: Misaki Sakurai (Mirei Kiritani) has been chronically single for a long time. She has focused on her work as a pâtissier to eventually run her own business. One day, she is fired from work. She then travels to the seaside and runs into her first love from high school Chiaki Shibasaki (Shohei Miura). Misaki Sakurai ends up working part-time at Chiaki’s restaurant, “Sea Sons”, and also lives there for that period of time. While she lives with Chiaki at his restaurant, she realizes that Chiaki’s two younger brothers Toma (Shuhei Nomura) and Kanata (Kento Yamazaki) are also living there. She does not get along well with Kanata at first and they bicker at lot but Kanata falls for Misaki’s determined and pure personality in the end.

Review: This was an interesting TV drama because instead of Chiaki being the main male lead, which would be the common assumption since he is the oldest brother and also Misaki’s first love, Kanata is actually the main lead. There is a slight love triangle with Misaki having a crush on Chiaki but getting rejected by him before anything even starts. I enjoyed this short TV drama because the story is just simple and sweet. The story also showcased the growth of the three brothers and how their relationship grew stronger. Kento Yamazaki is truly the prince of Japanese romance entertainment. He is able to evoke such great chemistry with the female lead, and you really start getting invested in their relationship.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

– To be continued –

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