[Review] Narratage

Copyright: Encore Films

In yet another Japanese book-to-movie adaptation, Narratage is based on an all-too-common theme of first love and letting go. While the movie touches on what many teens have probably felt in their lives, it seems that the main draw for the (mainly female) audience largely lies in the casting of the two male leads – Jun Matsumoto and Kentaro Sakaguchi.

Based on the 2005 novel “Narataju” by Rio Shimamoto, the movie centres around university student Izumi Kudo (Kasumi Arimura) who has lingering feelings for her high school teacher Takashi Hayama (Jun Matsumoto). While she seems to have moved on in her life, she eventually has to face her feelings when she’s called back to her old school by Hayama to help out with a class performance.

Flip flopping between three timelines, the movie weaves a storyline primarily between her high school and her university days spent back in the high school.

Throughout the movie, she is clearly still very much in love with her ex-teacher, and she makes that painfully clear even without words. It is, however, the lack of a clear answer on the part of Hayama that really spurs the movie on – does he love her or not? While all the signs seem to be steering towards a ‘yes’, it’s not as simple. Oh, Japanese romance movies really do take the cake on ‘complicated’.

While it’s clear that he’s fond of her, and wants to help all his students, events of his personal life unfold over the course of the movie – it explains why he’s so wishy washy. Most of the time, however, it seemed like a good kick in the nuts would be an appropriate course of action to remedy that.

The story is given an unexpected twist in the form of Reiji Ono (Kentaro Sakaguchi), another member of the class performance. As if the story isn’t complicated enough, pretty boy Ono becomes part of a love triangle. Assertive and cocksure of his affections for Izumi, he’s the polar opposite of Hayama.

It seems as if the love she gets she’s not wanting, and the love she wants she’s not getting. In the end, it shows us that love is not something you can simply work hard to get – because no matter what you do, the heart is an elusive creature.