Many of Kakuta’s works have been successfully adapted for film and television; and there are high expectations for this latest major Japanese film, directed by Rikiya Imaizumi, the fifth based on a book by Kakuta. It follows in the wake of The Moon and the Lightning, which was launched as a feature film to critical acclaim in 2017.
Just Only Love stars Yukino Kishii, a prominent award-winning actress who has acted in more than a dozen Japanese films and television dramas. She plays the lead role of Teruko, a 28-yearold determined to find love.
A quest she fulfils when she falls head over heels in love with a designer, Mamoru, working for a magazine publisher, played by Ryo Narita.
However, obsessing about him, a series of dinner dates and a night in his flat she discovers, in this entertaining romcom about love, desire and their and other couples’ unmatched expectations, can lead to you loosing your job; and doesn’t mean that what you have is a relationship.
Just Only Love had its world premiere at the Tokyo Film Festival at the end of last year. Imaizumi, the director, is known for his romance films, but critics have commented that basing his latest film on a book by a female author, and one known for her brilliantly captivating storytelling, brings a new perspective to his filmmaking, enriching it, taking his films about ‘the game of love’ in a new direction and to a new level.
The 224-page novel, originally published in 2003, described in its blurb as a tale about unrequited love with colourful prose, by a Naoki Prize-winning author, that casts a spell on its readers, is now being promoted as a film-tie with an enhanced cover in bookshops across Japan.
This all goes to show that despite surveys and journalists, in Japan and internationally, reporting that romance is dead in Japan with headlines such as No Sex Please, We’re Japanese, as reportedly a quarter of young people in Japan have never had sex or a relationship, romance on the pages of books and on the silver screen is in fact alive and well, thriving in all its complex, awkward and different forms.
Many of the film adaptations of Kakuta’s novels, like the books themselves, such as The Eighth Day and Pale Moon have been extremely successful. The female roles in these films are said to bring out the best in actresses, helping them be seen in a new light, thereby furthering their reputations amongst film critics and the public. Love can be one-sided, blind, frustrating, ridiculous and complex, as well as many other things, in Japan as elsewhere, and as readers commenting online about Kakuta’s book, who connected with Just Only Love, have written, doesn’t always lead to what you are expecting.
Kakuta, a very prolific author who is still not well known outside Japan but often referred to in Japan as one of the country’s best and most widely read writers, has had to put all major writing projects on hold to focus on a new three volume modern adaption of The Tale of Genji, Japan’s oldest novel, she has been working on since 2015.
Volume one was published in September 2017, and volume two in October 2018. The final volume is expected later this year after which her many fans and a cluster of publishers hope she will refocus on her own creative writing once her modernisation of this important Japanese classic for a new generation of Japanese readers is complete.
An English language review of the film can be read here and Japanese language promotional materials viewed here.
- About Red Circle:Red Circle Authors Limited is a specialist publishing and communications company that conducts bespoke projects on behalf of a carefully selected and curated group of leading Japanese authors. Red Circle showcases Japan’s best creative writing. For more information on Red Circle, Japanese literature, and Red Circle authors please visit: www.redcircleauthors.com.