A-Z Drama Challenge: Tsuki ni Shizumu

Another one that landed on my list after retracing some of my favorite queens of Jpop – this time being none other than Ayumi Hamasaki. A legend in her own right even if she’s no longer at the peak. Her legacy is one that anyone unfamiliar should look into, she was on the cover of TIME magazine in America back in the day, and holds the record for one of the most expensive music videos produced ever.

Tsuki ni Shizumu not being said video, and much more of a side note in her story. It was made in 2002 to couple with the release of her song “VOYAGE”. In fact you could say that “VOYAGE”‘s music video is the super short version. I actually pulled the screenshot for this blog from the MV lol. The full ‘movie’ exists online in various forms but this is one where I bought a DVD copy just to be sure I got the full film, and it would be in the best quality possible.

I mean you should just listen to Ayumi anyway, so here’s the MV. A 6 minute sample of the film so to speak.

With all that said, Tsuki ni Shizumu or Sinking into the Moon is a Ayumi Hamasaki’s second and final time as a main character in a major production. Minamo (Ayumi Hamasaki) is a young woman whose unable to sleep due to her terrifying dreams. In her dreams she’s called ‘Kagari’ a woman of the past, whose being primed to be a sacrificial lamb in a mysterious ceremony. She is admitted to a psychiatric ward to try and uncover the truth, only for the doctors to realize the answer may lay outside of Minamo and in the hands of another.

It’s a very short, and rather concise film running at just around 40 minutes. There’s the romantic elements, and the drama of what-if’s and did-that-really-happen. It’s a really fun idea I think. Building a whole short film around the idea of a song? Honestly an idea ahead of it’s time, if Hamasaki’s juniors are anything to go by.

It’s another film that hasn’t quite aged well in terms of technology. It had a duel VHS and DVD release – 2002 was a fascinating time to be alive. There is that wonderful ‘crunch’ to the film that gives it personality, as well as making a few scenes hard to read. Since this story is based around a dream, and a rather fantastical one at that I think it adds a lot to that mystique.

I mean the perfect blend of practical effects (the tear) and CGI (the moon). Also iconic as hell.

The acting in this one does show why Ayumi never really took anymore roles after it though. She felt very coached with a lot of her expressions feeling very one dimensional. There wasn’t a lot of nuance in her performance, but she did convey a certain amount of emotion. The other thing is that Ayumi has some very distinct voice and speech patterns that just didn’t quite blend here. Her opposite, Iseya Yusuke who played Akira/Takaomi managed to fill in the bigger gaps once he was introduced. He had a much more subdued performance that balanced out the overall feeling.

I think I’m showing my bias here but I just really love this era in Japanese film. The sets were simple, but conveyed enough to make it work. The area where the dream sequences were filmed is positively gorgeous. 10/10 would chose to sink into the moon there. There’s a good balance of practical and special effects that hold up surprisingly well too. Also the music – excellent stuff, it really helped shape the project in a positive way.

Overall, I just really like projects like this. Going in they knew this wasn’t some blockbuster film that would win over critics – they made it because they had the means and desire to. Simple as that. It’s not officially licensed (nor do I see it being anytime soon) but a good keyword search and you can find it subbed. If you’re looking to dip your toes into Japanese cinema I think this is a good place to start. Maybe you’ll sink into liking the film like me.



  1. Iconic! Ayumi Hamasaki was one of the first J-pop acts I ever discovered and got really into, and I still have a huge soft spot for her earlier work, especially late 90 to early 2000s.

    Liked by 2 people

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