The movie is an adaptation of the manga Takumi-kun Series written by Shinobu Gotoh. This romantic drama takes place in Shidou Academy, an exclusive boarding school for boys. It tells […]
The movie is an adaptation of the manga Takumi-kun Series written by Shinobu Gotoh. This romantic drama takes place in Shidou Academy, an exclusive boarding school for boys. It tells about a young boy named Takumi Hayama who struggles with psychoemotional issues brought about by a troubled past. His life is about to change in more ways than he expected when he meets the popular and charismatic Saki Giichi who not only suddenly saves him from bullies but much to his surprise ends up becoming his roommate as they start their second year in high school.
The movie is directed by Kazuhiro Yokoyama and it begins by giving the audience that distinct mood you get when watching a BL drama made for television with comedic undertones. The characters are introduced according to appearance and we see Takumi Hayama played by Tomo Yanagishita.
Takumi’s best friend and former roommate in his freshman year, Toshihisa Katakura is played by Ryo Sakaguchi. I actually enjoyed watching him as he was quite effective in his role despite only a few appearances. I wished that they had cast him in the same role in the third sequel of the movie.
Next, we meet Daisuke Nozaki played by Tetsuya Makita. I have to admit that I was laughing the entire time during his scene with Takumi because he acts like those guys who stalk other guys in prison for a potential “girlfriend”. His whole introduction scene was so cheesy, funny and unapologetic. He firmly establishes himself early on that he would be “the love rival.” He wastes no time being friends at all, he just wants to skip all that and jump into being lovers right away. He made me forget this was supposed to be an all-boys school. He’s so amusing to watch. He’s got pervert written all over his face yet he smiles so openly and the actor looks like he’s clearly amused with the role he’s been given. Each time Takumi says no only motivates him to shamelessly pursue him further. He’s so disturbing to watch yet I keep staring and grinning anyway because that’s how his acting made me feel. He’s not even the least bit intimidated with anyone. But it is through meeting Takumi which becomes vital in giving the audience a glimpse of Takumi’s past the moment Daisuke laid his hand over his shoulder.
Izumi Takabayashi is played by Yasuka Saito. Judging by the other five timid and nameless freshmen sharing the table with him during the curry attack, his position is quickly established as the “queen bee” or “bully princess” in this movie.
I need to point out that the one and only special effects the movie had was the flying curry plate yet it was executed rather poorly based on the overt slow motion making it seem like forever before it reached its target.
It is interesting to note that in the curry-throwing scene is where Hayama meets Gii played by Keisuke Kato. At first, we only know him as some kind of bodyguard who magically showed up from nowhere shielding Takumi from the socially-threatening, cheesy special effects and very slow motion of the curry attack. Even though the actor’s name does not flash onscreen yet, the obvious trepidation exhibited by the offending party quickly establishes him as “the king” in this school’s social hierarchy.
The one whose name was introduced next comes from a guy who is calmly enjoying his curry and rice with a nonchalant demeanor is Syozo Akaike played by Yukihiro Takiguchi. He appeared the most stable in the cast. It was difficult not to notice his presence onscreen. He clearly establishes himself as someone who abides by law and order. He is almost never intimidated and with the confidence to match. We could see that his friendship with Gii goes way back with the way they interact with each other. Akaike is best described as “The Exposition” since he just knows so much personal information and uses them to either make Takumi safe and scared at any given time. His approach towards the budding relationship between Takumi and Gii is that of a keen observer with his loyalty leaning more towards his friend than that of Takumi although he finds the boy harmless. He does not hesitate whenever he speaks his mind and it looks like he is putting Takumi through a test whether he is worthy of Gii or not.
It’s interesting to note that this Gii character behaves like an untouchable guy when confronting the other boys yet his face softens when facing Takumi. It’s like watching two totally different personalities in one person.
Next, a guy in a white martial arts uniform frantically approaches Izumi. His body language and his worry clearly showing in his face is Michio Yoshizawa played by Wataru Hatano. His performance is completely overshadowed by the Yasuka Saito’s overdramatic princess acting while Wataru who acts more like the self-sacrificing knave at his feet than supposed boyfriend.
Finally, Takumi starts his brief self-monologue and talks about Saki Giichi AKA Gii who is introduced complete with close up and strutting confidently on the bridge walkway like a fashion model making the curry stain over his shoulder look like an important accessory to his wardrobe. This is the man who is about to change Takumi’s life forever.
After 7 minutes and 13 seconds, the audience finds out what the title of the movie is. Takumi-kun Series: Soshite, Harukaze ni Sasayaite (And the Spring Breeze Whispers). That’s actually a bit too long for an introduction.
From the very beginning, Takumi’s behavior towards his surroundings and his social interaction is similar to that of a person with poor eyesight and decided to take off his glasses and misplaced them somewhere and eventually forgot to find them. He is awkward, nervous, distant and often indifferent yet gullible. Gii’s sudden love confession in the music room was not well received and it took a while before Takumi realized what he actually meant by the word “like”. I actually enjoyed watching him twitch whenever anyone touches him even casually.
Keisuke Kato who plays Gii has a very boyish appeal to his performance. He convincingly can pass off as a high school student. You can tell right away that he is good-natured yet strong with a bit of a flirtatious personality. The more I watch him, I am almost tempted to say that if the producers did not cast Baba Ryoma for the role of Misu Arata in the third Takumi-kun movie, Keisuke Kato could probably lobby for the part. In this movie, it is like watching a Misu-like Gii but not quite Misu either. It’s still Gii at least for what this movie required. He cannot go anymore or any less than that. He is passable as someone born from a wealthy family although he does not exhibit the typical qualities one might expect of someone from such a rich and powerful family with the way they described he’s supposed to come from. He is more like a rebel. You can sense the pressure he is having in certain scenes in the movie whenever the topic about his personal life is brought up.
Once again, I could not help laughing at the blatant cheesy performance demonstrated by Saito. I must admit that the more passionate Yasuka Saito portrays Izumi, the more I cringe and end up laughing. It is a huge struggle for me to keep my composure as I watch his performance because he is explodingly cheesy and over the top for my tolerance level. I managed to watch all his scenes by peeking through my fingers while covering my face. He’s THAT over the top. It’s not wooden acting…it’s too much acting which is the problem. What baffles me is that this is the same Yasuka Saito who totally impressed me in another BL manga-adapted movie, Ai no Kotodama.
Aiba Hiroki’s performance as Inoue Sachi is quite convincing since he’s supposed to be portrayed as this superstar idol of the violin world. Aiba’s beauty, delicacy, and distance does come off as expected of someone of his celebrity status and definitely effective enough to make Takumi appear as a mere mortal as he can be compared to his status. Inoue Sachi clearly reflects the characteristics of that of the “beautiful prince” in the movie. His presence also gives the audience a glimpse into the kind of high-level connections Saki Giichi has in his life.
The interaction between Takumi and Gii quickly progresses to friendship than lovers perhaps it’s because the former has not yet fully warmed up to the idea of being in a more intimate relationship despite knowing Gii’s true intentions. One could sense that Gii truly wants to make Takumi happy slowly but surely. If Takumi wouldn’t have accepted Gii’s advances, they might have ended up as close friends. But it is quite admirable that they started off focusing on nurturing a friendship to establish a deeper understanding between them.
Questionable scenes in the movie that remained unexplained were how did Gii end up bruised in the scene in the music room? And what’s up with the boys popping out of nowhere at the most critical time? It amazes me how much the movie likes to stretch one’s imagination and adhere strictly to the level of manga realism.
For me the most poignant scene was amidst the strong pouring rain, Takumi unexpectedly hugs Gii from behind throwing off all his fears aside and simply overcome by what Gii was willing to go through for his sake. When he said, “Gii, don’t treasure me so much.” Those words truly marked the beginning of Takumi’s transformation as he tries to convince Gii that he should not be placed on a pedestal but rather to be accepted for being himself and as an equal. This was the real turning point in their relationship. Takumi finally sees Gii more than a friend, he was now accepting of taking their relationship to a more intimate level. I like the fact that Gii really had to prove how serious he was and how Takumi did not easily give in to his advances.
I am discovering more insights into Gii’s personality. I like how the movie humanizes him rather than focusing so much on his privileged background thereby making him much less intimidating, more accessible and effective.
It’s interesting that Takumi finally confesses his love for Gii to Akaike during the race between Gii and Daisuke. I like the fact that Akaike maintains to be the voice of reason throughout the film and completely unfazed. You can really sense that his loyalty rests highly on Gii and his protectiveness over him as a friend and staunch ally.
The rapid flashback scenes showing one after another were a bit contrived as well as the imaginary Takumi running side by side with Gii. There could have been better ways to fill in those remaining minutes towards the end of the film. However, seeing Tomo Yanagishita’s smile was really sweet though.
I find an imbalance when the intimate scenes were used as a vehicle to finally explain the reason behind Takumi’s “human touch phobia” exposing the nature of his relationship with his dead brother and the past he was desperate to escape from. Somehow it kind of divides the audience’s attention from just being able to focus on his intimacy with Gii. Keisuke and Tomo both looked nervous, shy and a bit awkward to each other despite the ideal setting, the white sheets, naked torsos, closeup of their beautiful fingers intertwining, soft bright lights over them including the “assumed” kisses on account that the audience all ever did see is the back of Keisuke’s head. One could probably overlook that since it’s supposedly Takumi and Gii’s first time together as a couple can explain all that awkwardness going on. However, what I am trying to emphasize is that it’s one thing to act awkward and lovers on screen and another thing to behave awkwardly because the actors were very conscious of the camera and the film crew watching their every move. Unfortunately, as far as love scenes go, they demonstrated more of the latter. Yet putting that reality aside, it is undeniable that the actors are quite pleasing to the eye. One can still find pleasure in admiring their beauty at least.
The revelation scene of Takumi’s childhood past with his brother was executed carefully and controlled. This for me I think was one of the movie’s strongest points. One gained enough information to find out what occurred at that time. Takumi’s confession was not meant to peddle for sympathy from Gii nor the audience. Takumi only wanted one thing and one thing alone and that is to be understood. He really loved his brother and was starved for affection from his parents who favored the older son. He was a willing participant in their incestuous affair but it is a fact that even well-kept secrets are still bound to be discovered sooner or later which tragically claimed the sanity of both brothers. The revelation did not paint Takumi’s brother to be a monster. Takumi is fully aware of what happened between them but the betrayal of his parents was what squashed whatever sanity he tried desperately to hold onto.
The cemetery scene between the nurse and Takumi could have been the perfect opportunity to show the flashback scenes of Takumi’s past. Thereby doing so would allow the audience to simply focus in enjoying Gii and Takumi as a couple during their love scene earlier.
I actually enjoyed the closing credits where each of the actors is introduced showing each of their faces along with the name of their corresponding characters. This is quite helpful for non-Japanese speakers and for those who are trying to keep up with who’s who. As for the closing theme, the tone of the song did not quite fit into the whole movie yet judging from the upbeat tempo, it signaled that good things are to be expected in the future.
As a standalone movie, I think it has accomplished the best that it could to be as faithful to the manga and manage to deliver it on film. Although, one is not required to be familiar with the manga to be able to appreciate the movie for itself. If Takumi-kun had not been turned into a series, then this movie would have sufficed. One ought not to compare it too much with the sequels that followed thereafter or else you risk getting mixed views. This adaptation has its strengths despite its several weaknesses. It was still an engaging though amusing movie from start to finish.
Overall, I am giving this film a rating of 3 over 5.
REVIEWER: Yojichan (Originally published June 2012)
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