Welcome back to my blog! I’m going to catch up on some things that I’ve been reading/watching and it’s going to take a while so bear with me.
A few weeks ago, I had finally decided to watch L-DK and because it had been so long since I last read the manga (because the updates are really slow), I’d forgotten the flow of the story up till its latest chapter. The movie seemed somewhat disconnected to me so after completing the movie, I went to re-read L-DK‘s manga again. It was then I realised that as usual, not all the significant scenes in the movie were the same as the ones in the manga.
Which, like DUH. What was I expecting right?
Although somewhat slow-paced with deliberated acting, I found the movie likeable and therefore passable. Just slightly. The movie managed to capture some of the significant moments in the manga as well as even tweak some of them to make them more surprising and adorable. Like there’s this scene whereby Aoi and Shuusei go grocery shopping and upon walking up the long flight of stairs to their apartment, they play scissors-paper-stone to see who gets to walk up ahead a few steps free-handed while the other has to carry all the grocery bags.
And so the story:
Spoilers ahead, if you haven’t watched the movie yet!
Girls squeal and spill into crowds as a guy walks past them. No one does anything further except one girl who steps out from the crowd and yells to the guy a confession: “I like you!”
The girl is Shibuya Moe (Okamoto Rei), our protagonist’s best friend and she waits with bated breath as the guy turns around. Named by the students of the school “The school’s prince”, Shuusei Kugayama (Yamazaki Kento) turns around to face her – only to give her a cold, flat-out rejection. Watching her friend being humiliated in front of all the girls and angry at Shuusei, Nishimori Aoi (Goriki Ayame) corners the school’s prince and confronts him about it.
Shuusei is cold and indifferent about it and rouses her ire even further by teasing her. Aoi pushes him backwards in her anger and Shuusei falls down the stairs. To make up for her actions, she is forced to carry him back home piggy-back style, clean up his room as well as cook for him. On the way home, she is shocked to find out that he is in fact, her new neighbour that had just moved in.
While cooking, Shuusei inadvertently causes Aoi to panic, resulting in her messing up her cooking and causing a pan-fire, activating the room’s sprinklers. With the room completely drenched and the furnishings of the room needing repair or replacement, Shuusei has to move out and he chooses to room in with Aoi.
And so their lives living together begins.
Aoi tries her best to live as she normally does but Shuusei’s go-at-my-own-pace way of living infuriates her and she more or less winds up following his pace. He throws her into embarrassing and somewhat hilarious situations for his own personal amusement such as inviting a friend home – to Aoi’s home – unannounced. In her haste, she hides under blankets and Shuusei discovers her there. To simply disturb and annoy her, he moves over to the blankets and sits right on top of her HAHA.
Even though Shuusei’s presence drives Aoi crazy, she realises that he is in fact, kind-hearted and child-like. Probably one of the sweetest and most significant scenes in this movie is the scene whereby there’s a thunderstorm at night and Aoi is unable to sleep. During the thunderstorm, Shuusei finds out that Aoi is afraid of thunder and in an unexpected move, offers his hand to her under the curtain divider. Hesitant at first, Aoi ends up taking his hand when the sky thunders and it helps her to get through the night.
While all of this is going on, Aoi meets Shuusei’s older brother Soju and his ex-girlfriend Mizuno Satsuki. Both characters prove to be of no help to Shuusei and Aoi’s relationship as Soju makes suggestive moves on Aoi and Satsuki wastes no time sizing Aoi up, telling her that Shuusei is hers. She is an immediate unlikeable character and we all know it.
Aoi finds herself falling in love with Shuusei slowly day by day. Wanting to get to know him better, she probes him with questions that he doesn’t wish to answer. Aoi turns to Soju, who takes advantage of her and kisses her, taking away her first kiss.
Shuusei learns that his brother had kissed Aoi and in a fit of rage, punches him. He finds Aoi on top of a hill sobbing alone and comforts her, telling her that his brother’s kiss won’t count anymore because he says so. And then he gives her a kiss of his own.
Thereafter, Aoi and Shuusei’s relationship seems to improve but something also seems to be holding him back. When he comes home late to see a table spread full of dinner dishes on his birthday yet treats it like it’s nothing, Aoi becomes affected and upset. Annoyed with her behaviour, Shuusei stops eating and asks her what the problem is. She replies with tears in her eyes that she just wants him to smile.
He advances on her, pushing her down and Aoi struggles against him. Seeing her cry, he gets off her and starts to pack his things. He leaves the house without any explanation into the pouring rain.
Aoi chases after him in the rain and hugging him from behind, confesses that she loves him. Shuusei rejects her, telling her that he doesn’t feel the same and that he’s sorry. He also tells her that even though they were together for a short time, it was fun and he was glad to have met her. Saying that it’s his fault for causing her to be hurt, he adds that he cannot keep his promise to see the Tanabata fireworks with her – a promise that he had previously made to her on a date. Aoi watches as he walks away from her, heartbroken.
Fast-forward all the drama and brooding >>>
It’s the night of the Tanabata fireworks and Aoi is pushed into attending it with Sanjo Wataru, a neighbour who has taken a fancy to her. Moe and Shuusei’s friend, Sato Ryosuke search for Shuusei and when they find him, they push him to go to the Tanabata fireworks and get Aoi back. They present to him the necklace that he’d given Aoi, saying that they were the ones who pushed Aoi to go to the fireworks with Sanjo because if she didn’t go, she’d be stuck to her one-sided love for him.
Shuusei takes the necklace and runs out of the apartment, taking Ryosuke’s scooter to drive to the fireworks. When he’s nearing the location of the fireworks, he get blocked by the police who are trying to control the traffic flow. Abandoning the scooter, Shuusei gets off and starts to go on foot, running through the crowds yelling for Aoi. Eventually, he catches her attention and the two meet again. Shuusei apologises to her and admits that he loves her, asking her to be his girlfriend. Aoi accepts and they kiss under the last burst of fireworks.
I enjoyed watching L-DK in spite of all its slow and unnecessary scenes. It was sweet and I enjoyed Yamazaki Kento’s performance as Kugayama Shuusei – to me, it was a spot on portrayal of the cold-blooded indifferent prince. Although I know that the acting is usually exaggerated in Japanese movies, I felt that Goriki Ayame’s acting was way too exaggerated. I prefer acting to be natural, as though it was really what the character would do, behave and say. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy watching Ayame act as Aoi at all. To me, Aoi is a conservative, kind-hearted girl who in my mind, is more demure than what Ayame portrayed her to be.
Other issues I have with L-DK include Soju, Satsuki and Sanjo Wataru.
Soju’s painted out to be some creepy brother who does photography as a job and kisses Aoi without any qualms – stealing her first kiss. He’s in fact, portrayed to me as a bastard and a character that is totally unlikeable. He should have been given more background for viewers to understand who he is and his real motives. I feel that if I hadn’t read the manga, and just watched the movie, I would be hating Soju for no full proper reason right now. Everyone has a reason behind their actions.
From the time Satsuki is introduced to us, she passes off as an arrogant bitch who can’t just let go of her ex-boyfriend. Not much is told about her and Shuusei’s past and even the story woven out for us about her waiting for him in the cold for hours on Christmas night is a pitiful one. Shuusei making a promise to Satsuki to always be by her side until she finds her happiness just because she nearly died – through no fault of his – is such a lousy reason to be stuck to her. It is such a lousy backstory and reason for Shuusei to keep that I find myself rolling my eyes. Halfway through the story, Satsuki also mysteriously disappears from the movie. It’s strange, because up till then, she was so adamant about keeping Shuusei with her and being with him. Did she suddenly change her mind about him halfway through the movie? *shrugs*
Sanjo is introduced as a worker at a grocery shop who loves Aoi from far. His role is similar to that of the nice big brother and he doesn’t pose much of a threat to Shuusei on taking Aoi from him. In fact, Shuusei seems unfazed by his threats every time – because he doesn’t even make any drastic moves to signal to Shuusei that hey, I’m being serious here about taking her. There’s so much more to Sanjo that the movie could have worked on, it seems as though they have sadly shortchanged him as a character.
I highly recommend everyone to read the manga first before watching its live-action adaptation because many questions were not answered in the latter. Honestly, you’d be lost halfway through the movie, bored of several unnecessary scenes and the exaggerated acting when they could have been used as scenes to build up the foundation of the story as well as the characters. The only thing you’d want to look out for in this movie is probably only Yamazaki Kento as Shuusei and Akiyoshi Nakao as his good friend Sato Ryosuke, who wasn’t too bad acting in the “good friend” role.
I don’t think I’d want to watch L-DK any time soon but I will, if it ever crosses my mind again.
Overall rating: 7/10