Went to Village East Cinema to see an anime called Haikara-san: Here Comes Miss Modern. Sappy romances are a definite guilty pleasure of mine, but this one is a bit… underwhelming.
In Japan, melodramas about arranged marriages are a dime a dozen (Yasujiro Ozu was particularly proficient at finding variations on the theme), and Haikara-san hits all of the expected notes: a strong-willed protagonist that wants to forge her own path, regardless of what “tradition” dictates; a sensitive, handsome fiancé that ends up being surprisingly progressive and supportive; and tragic circumstances that tear the lovers apart right as they’re discovering the true depths of their feelings for one another. The plot isn’t bad, necessarily; it’s just… generic and predictable, and the sub-television quality of the animation does it no favors—even the few delightfully out-of-left-field departures from the formula (in one memorable scene, for example, our heroine effortlessly thrashes a wannabe gangster, who subsequently pledges to be her lackey and dutifully follows her around throughout the rest of her journey) can’t quite save it from mediocrity.
The material certainly has promise (as evidenced by the countless previous adaptations of the original 1975 manga series); it’s in its execution that the film falls short of its full potential.
[Originally written June 9, 2018.]