movie: HOTARU NO HIKARI

“They say Rome wasn’t built in a day but we conquered it today.”

That, in a nutshell, summarizes the movie version of the famous Japanese dorama based on a manga, Hotaru no Hikari (Glow of Fireflies). Or maybe not.

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To perhaps give a fresh spin to the much awaited movie version, the producers thought of taking it to Rome. They even added Matsuyuki Yasuko and Tegoshi Yuya from NEWS to the cast. Nothing wrong with that, as long as Amemiya continues to be the famous himono onna (dried fish woman) and Bucho continues to be the patient, well, boss.

The problem is, there is a movie-for-TV feel to the end product. What’s the difference if they turned this into an SP (special) and shown it on TV? The film version should have offered more, but by wanting to offer more, they thought a new location and additional cast would do the trick. But that did not really help. There were two literally misleading subplots in this film that almost ruined the movie: the fake kidnapping and  the “drugs” in the luggage, which I felt they could have done without. And there was so much ado about the character of Matsuyuki being the “himono onna” of Italy. Please, we’re not interested in any himono onnas but Ahomiya.

Why couldn’t they have just focused on the couple, who have been together for some time now, but hasn’t had a wedding ceremony and a honeymoon? The plot of Bucho going to Rome for a business trip and Ahomiya reluctantly tagging along was enough of a story to work around with. She doesn’t like traveling, thus, the reason for the delay of his dream honeymoon overseas and suddenly, she finds herself in a foreign country. Oh there are so many things to do and see in Rome and how Ahomiya copes with being in a foreign land, perhaps having a difficulty looking for her preferred brand of beer or fretting that their room does not have an adequate veranda, could have made for a more interesting film, than being caught up in the drama of the additional cast. I wouldn’t have minded a film that felt like a tour of Rome. Really. Because we’d be seeing it through the eyes of Ahomiya, who is on her first overseas trip, and most probably Bucho rolling his eyes at every chance he gets but still going along with her craziness.

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Just like what happens in this scene on the famous Spanish Steps, where Ahomiya gleefully declares:

“Anywhere is our veranda if I’m with you. Even the Spanish Steps is our veranda!”

And she proceeds to roll down, much to Bucho’s horror and chagrin, as if she were on their tatami back home.

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I mean, these are the scenes one would expect in the movie version. Not being trapped in other people’s dramas and in a nice-looking mansion, even if it looks pretty (with an owner who can speak Japanese to boot). I do realize though that it must have cost more to have many outdoor scenes in the heart of Rome, but what’s the point of bringing the location there then if you can’t take advantage of it? If they did just that, then the dialogue below would have been more true and even more laughable:

Ahomiya: “Rome has been taken by my charm!”

Bucho: “You’re so full of yourself, you might burst.”

Okay, I don’t mind that scene where Bucho dances as a woman (and he really was pretty), but the story arc behind that was just so, so lame. And speaking of dance, of course, Ahomiya had to do her loach dance in an Italian village, before she crashes into a party looking for Bucho, wearing her wedding dress that’s been torn and soaked in mud (and all I could think of was, what a pretty wedding dress to be ruined just like that).

As an Italian at the party quipped: “I don’t get any of it… but long live the Japanese!”

Neither do I, signore.

So after all the kinks of the useless characters have been ironed out (and the white powder cleared as rice flour–what, in this day and age, no one knows that there is flour in other parts of the world especially in the land of pizza?!), Ahomiya and Bucho finally get to see the city. And we get a crammed token tourist shots with them in famous landmarks. And on top of that, they forgot to have their wedding, so on the way to the airport, they stop by a church to get married. How very convenient, right? I didn’t know that Las Vegas has moved to Rome.

But fine, this is just a movie. But what a waste of material, including the flour, it was. Despite all that, it’s still Ayase Haruka and Fujiki Naojito who save the film from being a total disaster with their entertaining portrayals as Amemiya Hotaru and Takano Seiichi (yes, he does have a name aside from Bucho). And for someone who has watched them from season 1 of the dorama up to season 2 (which was blah despite Mukai Osamu), it’s so heartwarming to see how their chemistry has become so natural. It stands out in that one scene in that topdown car as they make their way to their Rome tour in those matching ridiculous suits.

I’m wondering though… does the ending hint of a sequel to the movie? Or will there be a season 3 of the dorama?

BUCHOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

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