The movie is based on Kajiwara Ikki’s manga “Ai to Makoto”, which was previously adapted as a television drama and three movies in 1974, 1975, and 1976.
Tsumabuki Satoshi stars as a delinquent named Taiga Makoto who comes to Tokyo to fulfill a vow to avenge his past. Takei Emi plays Saotome Ai, the only daughter of a prominent and distinguished Tokyo family. Under normal circumstances, people from such vastly different backgrounds would never have met, but fate had different plans and the pair wind up falling in love. Meanwhile, an honors student named Iwashimizu (Saito Takumi) won’t stop telling Ai he’d die for her, Makoto is hunting a female gang leader, and chaos springs up all around them.
Cast & Credits
We’re all familiar with the Japanese sense of creativity that knows no limits and this film falls under that category. Takeshi Miike is surely a genius director but he comes up with pretty crazy films sometimes, that’s why I understand people who think of this as unwatchable and I also relate to those who consider it another creative work. What’s for sure is that this film isn’t directed for everyone.
This is basically a school film; one of those J-films where there are lots of delinquents and a badass male lead and of course, there’s a little romantic interest as a spice. But then things get ultimately awkward and irritating when they add singing and dancing to those elements. I don’t know what this film’s makers were thinking about when they did that. I thought that they were trying to imitate a Disney musical or something but if that was the case, then this was a drastic failure. I believe that the film would’ve been more enjoyable if they excluded the meaningless singing and dancing, I had to skip those parts to be able to follow the story and that was somehow successful. But then again, you can’t consider this as a pure delinquent film since it was interrupted with pointless romance without any chemistry that grabs your intention.
The acting was pretty alright. I mean there’s Satoshi as the male lead and let’s not forget other good actors such as Sakura and Ihara who were quite good as actors but I can’t say the same about any character in this film, most of them were all over the place especially the female lead who was utterly annoying and badly written. So you can guess that this is a film where you have to set a thin barrier between acting and characters; even though the former was quite good, the latter was a hot mess.
The music department was extremely bad, I do believe that it ruined the whole film no matter how much you try to ignore it; it will pop out in front of you out of nowhere to destroy any sort of entertainment you expect from this film. I think this is the worst musical film (if that what the makers were trying to accomplish) ever made.
Taken as a whole, I wouldn’t dare to recommend this to anyone because I am sure that most people would hate the frustrating singing and dancing but if you can disregard those elements and watch this as another weird school/delinquent J-film mixed up with some romance then this could be to your liking. However, remember not to have any expectations for this one or else, you will end up awfully disappointed.
Before I really get into my review, in my opinion, this film's MDL description doesn't do it justice. The description actually seems to be closer to the plot of the original manga that the film it is based on, rather than the film itself. The film does have the basic outline of the manga's plot, BUT this film is a Takashi Miike film, so you shouldn't expect this story to be told in a relatively normal or straightforward way. It also should be noted, since it's not tagged on here, that this film is a musical and also a comedy. With plenty of delinquent school boy (and girl) fights.
When watching this film, I think it's important to remember the title, which in English is referred to as 'For Love's Sake' and in Japanese is called 'Ai to Makoto', which translates to 'love and sincerity' (which is not so coincidentally the names of the two main characters). Throughout this film, love is depicted in its various forms through each character - unrequited love, new love, lost love, naive love, lack of love, love, love, love, love, etc. When you think about love, one of the most popular forms of expressing it is typically in song, right? I mean, aren't most songs on the radio specifically about love? I could be reaching here, but for that reason, I believe that that is why the singing/dancing wasn't some pointless or distracting thing. Having each character express their feelings and thoughts on love through song, was actually pretty fitting. Yes, some of the songs and dances were weird but I honestly felt that that was all apart of the satire. Personally, I thought each song was hysterical, more so, than annoying.
Even when you take out the singing, this is still a pretty solid film. The overall plot was entertaining and despite it being relatively outlandish at times, it does get pretty touching towards the end. I felt that there were quite a bit of interesting and diverse characters - each character having pretty much their own background and purpose in the film. It's my belief that Ai (who, ironically, most seem to find annoying) represents that kind of naive, ideal and cheesy love that is usually depicted in shojou manga, anime, films and dramas. Makoto, on the other hand, he's violent and filled with anger and pain (mainly because of his past) and doesn't seem to have a real interest in love, but despite that, there is still a sincerity.
I believe the actors did a great job in this film. Tsumabuki Satoshi was a pleasure to watch and did a beautiful job at portraying Makoto's complex feelings. Takei Emi also did a good job as I thought she brought a perfect amount of clichéd cuteness to her character. The supporting cast as a whole were very good as well. Since it is a musical, I guess it's pretty obvious that I should talk about the music too, huh? Lol. Well, for me, the songs throughout the film were representative of each character and I felt that they did their job giving the viewer a taste of that character's personality and mindset. Some of the songs were corny and some were pretty over-the-top but they fit their character so I didn't have a problem with it. Honestly, I'd bump the soundtrack to this film if I had it (just another musical soundtrack to add to my playlist - move over West Side Story!). This film also deserves kudos for having great cinematography and set design. Each shot was beautiful and well thought out.
To summarise, I thought this film was funny and entertaining. I think there's definitely more to this film than what first meets the eyes. But hey, I've been told I have weird tastes and I do tend to overthink. But, I mean, if you like some cheesy songs and dance numbers, can suspend your disbelief for 2 hours, and just wanna laugh, then this film might be for you. It's definitely a guilty pleasure lol.