While living in Japan, I’ve really been trying to put myself out there more with my fellow ALT’s. I will never claim that I have ‘good’ taste in nearly anything thanks to my youth, but I’m more open to share my interests then previously. So I sent a message to a group of people, and I ended up getting four other ALT’s to trek two hours (or more) to the nearest movie theatre to see Yuki no Hana ( 雪の華), aka Snow Flower.
My motivation to see this film was quite simple, I wanted to see Tosaka Hiromi act in something that wasn’t HiGH&LOW. I told my friends this, along with a plot synopsis and surprisingly they were okay with it.
Yuki no Hana, tells the story of chronically weak Hirai Miyuki (Nakujou Ayami). She has just returned from an unsuccessful trip to Finland to see the rare red aurora that her parents saw. After being re-evaluated, she receives the news that she is terminally ill, even after all her treatment. She is devastated, knowing that she’ll be unable to see the Northern lights like her parents or fall in love. Due to her shock, she becomes a victim of theft, only to meet the blunt and honest Watabiki Yusuke (Tosaka Hiromi) who retrieves her bag. From there their lives intertwine in something beyond either of their expectations.
I loved this movie. I really still do. I am slightly exhausted of anime/manga adaptations. This story being based around a song, and then a novel was a welcome change of pace. The characters are adults, facing adult problems with adult thoughts. There’s still impulses and emotions but it’s significantly more relatable to me as a young adult in my twenties verses a high schooler.
It’s told at a solid pace, that helps build the relationships between Miyuki and Yusuke slowly. They don’t just get thrown together and stick. It’s awkward due to the ‘terms’ Miyuki sets. There’s a certain amount of charm in Miyuki experiencing this romance for the first time. Her journal detailing the ‘goals’ and locations of their dates really endeared me to her, especially as someone with minimal dating experience even as an adult.
It’s a story of almost opposites attracting since Yusuke is quite the opposite. He’s way inexperienced due to his circumstances growing up and now. He’s awkward and too straight forward to really ‘get’ what Miyuki wants in their relationship. And that’s okay with both him and her. He slowly, starts to piece the elements together and genuinely grows to care.
I have to say, I was incredibly impressed with both Ayami and Hiroomi’s performances. The duo makes a very believable couple in the best sort of way. I had moments that I forget they existed as real people and not just as Miyuki and Yusuke and that’s really rare for me.
Couple with all of this, is the fact LDH Productions had their fingers in the pot for cinematography. Not nearly as bold as their Cinema Fighters series but you could tell, there was a stronger then usual director behind the scenes. The way the light falls in the coffee shop, and the subtle changes in source and intensity between the scenes to really set a mood. The way shots were framed as an outsider looking in, to fly on the wall to occasionally right beside a character was well done.
Of course, a lot of the praise has to go to their locations choices both in and out of Japan. The Japanese sets and locations were excellant. Clear where they were, but not the same reused popular locations that often plague films for reliability’s sake, taking it up a notch. Then of course was Finland locations; they were presenting in such a gorgeous set up with both summer and winter being set up it’s not wonder that the author wrote such a tale. It was really captivating and made me want to go there myself!
This is one story where I would love to go on for another couple of paragraphs but I’ve just about said everything I’ve wanted to say. The acting to me was superb and incredibly believable as well as enjoyable. The care taken in crafting a beautiful film with locations and techniques well utilized was so welcome after seeing similar scenes blend together with other previous films. I opened saying I don’t claim to have ‘good’ taste, however this film was incredibly good in my opinion. If you have the chance, don’t hesitate to watch.
The song used in this drama was originally used in the Korean drama “I’m Sorry I Loved You” (a tragic story also) — I recognized it immediately! “Snow Flower” was sung by Park Hyo-shin and it’s since been covered by other artists. It really is lovely — or “simply captivating.” MVs from the series are on YouTube and it’s nice to see the lyrics:
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