JQ Magazine: Film Review – ‘Love Strikes!’ Twice at JAPAN CUTS Film Festival

‘Love Strikes!’ star Masami Nagasawa, center, with JAPAN CUTS festival curator Samuel Jamier at Japan Society, July 14, 2012. (Shinobu Torii)

By Rick Ambrosio (Ibaraki-ken, 2006-08) for JQ magazine. Rick manages the JET Alumni Association of New York (JETAANY)’s Twitter page and is the creator of the JETwit column Tadaima!

Love Strikes! had its encore screening July 22 at Japan Society’s annual JAPAN CUTS film festival, and I can tell why they had to run it a second time: a main character with a wide range, beautiful girls, and the hilarious situations he gets himself into with them (though the funny stuff is a little frontloaded, but we’ll get to that).

Hitoshi Ohne’s Love Strikes! (or Moteki 「モテキ」) is based on a manga of the same name and is the sequel to the popular television series. The main character, Yukiyo Fujimoto (Mirai Moriyama) is a young man entering middle age and finding his luck with women wanting. From out of nowhere, he has his moteki, or time of great popularity with women of the opposite sex, which is said to happen to a man just three times in his life.

The movie’s events find us after his first moteki, with Yukiyo wishing for another shot with a great girl.  That great girl’s name is Miyuki (Masami Nagasawa), whom Yukiyo makes a connection with over Twitter. We then see our introspective thirty-something hero chasing her all over Japan, making laughs, breaking hearts, and learning through the whole process.

The movie pours on the humor in the first hour, lacing hilarious monologues and actions with spontaneous karaoke songs and dance numbers. It is after this hour, though, that things start to get serious as Yukiyo finds reality stranger than fiction and learns that chasing your dream girl can result in a lot of emotional fallout. While some will feel the last hour is a little heavy handed, it serves to show how from one angle, finding love does have its funny moments, though the terror, anger and fear that comes along with it is real, too. Moriyama does a great job of expressing those highs and lows that really pulls the viewer in. Some points seemed so honest and Mirai’s physical ticks so natural that I was wondering if I was watching some hidden camera confession show, not a movie.

I suppose I am a little biased about this film, since I find myself a newly minted thirty-something wondering where all the time went and what the future holds. Love Strikes! mirrored a little of that anxiety and allowed me to jump on the roller coaster ride of a kindred spirit’s journey through love and disappointment with laughs and food for thought along the way.

Those lucky enough to get tickets to the film’s premiere at Japan Society on July 14 were also treated to a live Q&A with the lovely Masami Nagasawa. “Ah, man, I wish I could’ve seen this movie, or one like it at the festival,” is probably what you’re thinking. Okay, I know it’s what you’re thinking. But you are in luck!  The festival (as of this writing) is still going strong and ends July 28, so hit the site and grab your tickets today! Maybe your moteki awaits at the festival!? Ganbatte!!!

For Japan Society’s upcoming film screenings, visit www.japansociety.org/film.