Real

If you’re looking for a Takeru Sato movie to tide you over until the next installment of “Rurouni Kenshin” is released, take a look at “Real”.

 

In this movie, Sato plays a man named Koichi Fujita, whose significant other (I don’t recall whether they said she was his fiancee or girlfriend), played by Haruka Ayase, has fallen into a coma after a suicide attempt. The hospital that’s been caring for her in the interim has developed technology to allow people to connect and communicate at the subconscious level, as if in a dream state, so he agrees to use it to try to bring her back to the real world. Over the course of the exposition, the audience finds out that she’s a manga artist. She feels like she’s lost her way, and the only way to get her motivation back is for him to find a picture of a plesiosaur she drew in a sketchbook as a child.

 

The psychology of the situation only intensifies as Koichi goes looking for the drawing. He starts to hallucinate in the real world, things that he saw Atsumi drawing in the dream world. And just when he thinks he found it, things get even more complicated.

 

I admit that I was too busy trying to piece together what I was watching, to see the twist coming. In fact, it took me so by surprise, that I stopped knowing what to believe… which I imagine was the point. The cast and staff had me completely consumed by what I was watching, though, which is always a good thing, and the costuming and set design choices were excellent.

 

I really enjoy watching Sato-san work, and while I like psychological thrillers well enough, the ones that introduce undead and things that require liberal amounts of creepy makeup aren’t quite my cup of tea.

 

Rating: 3rd Gear

[If you have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future article, please don’t hesitate to email me at Sara at otdt.net.]

Piece ~Kioku no Kakera~ (TN: Fragments of Memories)

Last year, there was some uproar in the tokusatsu (special effects filming) fan community. The producing company, Toei, had announced that they were starting a new project called “Hero Next” to highlight actors who had been a part of their Kamen Rider and Super Sentai programming. As of right now, there have been three movies released:

 

“Piece ~Kioku no Kakera~” (henceforward referred to as “Piece”), featuring Shu Watanabe and Ryosuke Miura from “Kamen Rider OOO” (Eiji and Ankh, respectively)

 

“In the Future, Where I am Executed”, featuring Sota Fukushi and Ryo Yoshizawa from “Kamen Rider Fourze” (Gentarou and Ryusei, respectively)

 

“Love Gear”, featuring Ryota Ozawa, Kazuki Shimizu, and Junya Ikeda from “Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger” (Captain Marvelous, Don “Hakase” Dogoier, and Gai Ikari, respectively)

 

 

From what I understand, the purpose of the project was to keep the actors on the roster, rather than just saying “thank you for your service, good luck on future endeavors”. It’s a nice sentiment, and seems like it would work well… and if you’re wondering why only certain people have come back so far, some of them have made more advancement in their careers beyond toku (for instance, Yuki Yamada [Gokaiger’s Joe Gibken]), while others may have backed away altogether. I won’t go into the actors’ other projects, that’s a different discussion. And that’s enough preface.

 

“Piece” opens with a dream-like scene in a forest, where a girl asks the man she’s with (Watanabe) what he’ll do if she dies. After he explains to her what he imagines to be living as if he was dead, she abruptly collapses and turns to stone, the scenery changing to a dark room with two other girls looking on. He suddenly wakes up on a bench by a riverbank, and it’s revealed that he’s a freelance reporter named Tomoki Chino. The recurring dream is apparently the fuzzy remnants of an actual occurrence from three years ago, and he’s been trying to figure out what really happened and what his girlfriend’s last words were. When more people start turning to stone, he jumps head-first into the investigation, and consequently comes across a photographer named Rei (Miura) who’s housing multiple symbiotic personalities within himself. As luck would have it, Rei’s van contains the equipment necessary to solve the mystery, and his various personalities are also able to help Tomoki reach back into his own memories.

 

The special effects were handled well, and not overdone like how traditional toku tends to be. It was also nice to see the fight scene, allowing Watanabe and Miura to show off a little. I would offer a trigger warning to anyone who’s squeamish about separated body parts, with respect to those who were turned to stone.

 

The ending leaves the story wide open, although I doubt there will be a continuation… and I strongly encourage viewers to sit through the entirety of the ending credits, as there’s a few seconds of extra video at the end. Not only that, but Miura sang the ending theme (it’s the B side of his “Kimi e no X-mas Song” single).

 

All in all, “Piece” is a dark and heavy movie. It’s on the creepy side, and kinda tragic. That being said, if you like these two actors and the dynamic they portrayed in “Kamen Rider OOO”, I definitely recommend giving this a glance.

 

Rating: 4th gear

[If you have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future article, please don’t hesitate to email me at Sara at otdt.net.]

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