Movie Review: Ai Ore (Ai wo Utau yori Ore ni Oboreru)
The recently released “Ai wo Utau yori Ore ni Oboreru! (Rather than Sing your Love, Drown in Me)” is the film adaptation of the manga of the same name and the production is filled with VK and Japanese fashion subculture from the use of real Tokyo live house locations to the costuming done by Baby, the Stars Shine Bright and h.NAOTO.
(minor spoilers ahead)
The story centers around Mizuki (Ono Ito), a guitarist in an all-female VK band called Blaue Rosen and her childhood friend Akira (KARAM), the pretty-boy darling of an all-boys school. While Mizuki has forgotten him, Akira is determined to pursue her. The subplot focuses on Blaue Rosen trying to reach the top of the download charts in order to secure a place in the “Love Rock Festival.” Mizuki, a self-described man-hater, volunteers to write a love song for the event but her complete lack of experience with love and the distraction of Akira’s dogged pursuit puts the band’s reputation in jeopardy. A second subplot focuses on the machinations of the Student Council President trying to improve both the reputation of his school and his standing with Akira. By the end, the three subplots tie up neatly together in typical rom-com fashion.
Like many Japanese teen comedies, the movie requires a willing suspension of disbelief. If you accept the premise that naturally there is a school for rich girls whose uniforms are lolita and visual-kei and that the corresponding school for boys is completely obsessed with sneaking pictures of and making idol goods for the prettiest boy in school while assuring the audience that no-one there is really gay, it is easier to accept the numerous smaller ways the movie bends reality. Unfortunately, the main conceit, which is the gender-bending between the main couple, doesn’t sell. Akira looks pretty, but still boyish, while Mizuki looks conventionally feminine in all except dress throughout the movie. In a pivotal scene (filmed in Harajuku’s h.NAOTO+ store) where a shop clerk offers Akira a dress instead of Mizuki and makes her run away in tears, any emotional impact is lost because the scene just doesn’t read as reality. Likewise, Akira’s “romancing” of Mizuki can be seen as adorable or stalkerish and creepy, depending on your tolerance for the tropes of the genre.
There are a few bright spots, such as Kera model AKIRA’s turn as the Blaue Rosen vocalist Kaoru Naruse and the dizzying array of outfits from Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, Alice and the Pirates, h.NAOTO, Hellcat Punks, and Deoart and lolita model Misako Aoki’s cameo as a Blaue Rosen fan. Shishido Yuasa also does a good turn as the sexy bassist Megumi, and really sells the live scenes, especially in comparison to Ito. The live scenes are staged like a concert DVD with artful soft-focus and effects. The movie also touches on the interesting issue of romance in VK and the rather violent reaction of fans who find out their idol is “involved.” Overall, the “AiOre” (as it is dubbed by fans) movie will be enjoyed by those who appreciate the genre though it probably won’t convince anyone not already a fan that Japanese teen cinema has merit. All in all, acting and story aside, at least the fashion and staging are worthy of appreciation.