Nagasawa Masami, Saito Shota, Saito Keita
Dir. Inudo Isshin
Finally got around to watching this movie. A gal at work recommended it highly, it being one of the all-time favorite manga/anime titles of her youth.
It’s a young love triangle, sort of, between twin brothers (Katsuya/Tatsuya) and a perky gal (Minami), neighbors, friends and big baseball enthusiasts since childhood. The story begins as they are in high school. However only Katsuya and Minami have upheld their love for baseball since the good old days (he’s the star pitcher, she’s the team manager). Tatsuya has strayed from the honored path to the promised land: the annual Koshien, the high-school baseball tournament that means more to Japan than March Madness college basketball does in the United States.
There’s a different destiny that awaits each of them and much of the story focues on the different paths taken unexpectedly. Unfortunately, my gal pal spoiled part of the story before I was able to watch the movie free from prejudice and distraction. She insisted it was but one of a thousand details but she’s equipped with a thousand chapters of manga. All I have is two hours of condensed story. If you do come across this title (or ANY popular movie title) beware those who may have an overwhelming desire to blab in front of you.
I’ve seen the Saito twins in “Hotman” and both are serviceable, although I didn’t believe for a moment that either of them could deliver breaking pitches at even 50mph (Japanese baseball manga tries to make you believe that teenage arms can produce exploding sliders and blood). However, Nagasawa doesn’t get top billing for nothing. If you haven’t seen “Sekai no Chuushin de, Ai wo Sakebu” then you missed a star-making vehicle. She isn’t required to stretch as far as in “Sekachu” and the sporting cliches went CLUNK for me at times but Nagasawa’s presence lends something that is both appealing and plausible. Her sadness is my sadness; her joy becomes one with me.
I’m not a consumer of manga and some of the attempts to transfer its storytelling techniques to movies don’t always mesh. I found the pacing of the story a little uneven. But if you create stories with characters worth caring about, that can help a lot and I was taken again by Nagasawa. I swear, she IS the gal that broke your heart in 9th grade.