Japanese Film Themes: Love

by Grace Leong
Love is a strong recurring theme in Japanese Films, especially love that is lost. While a plot involving losing a loved one to an incurable disease or a fateful accident may sound too much of a cliché, Japanese filmmakers have continued to show how successes can be created through intricate story-telling. The following are some titles to look out for.

Shunji Iwai, perhaps better remembered by some Western audiences as the director of All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001), created the classic film ‘Love Letter’ in 1995. The story begins with Hiroko Watanabe mourning the death of her fiancé Itsuki who died in a mountain climbing accident. While trying to come to terms with her loss, she decides to write a letter to him and mails it to an old address in his hometown. Surprisingly, a reply is received from Itsuki, a woman whose links with Hiroko’s dead fiancé go beyond sharing the same name. Years after its initial release, Love Letter continued to create waves in Asia and is credited for creating a whole fan base for Japanese films in Thailand when it was released there in 2001. Having been part of the original crew for Love Letter is also to be part of a powerful lineage.

Love Letter Assistant Director Isao Yukisada used to be marketed as such but he too has gone on to create his own classic love story. Crying Out Love In The Centre Of The World or 'Sekai no chushin de, ai o sakebu' (2004) sold 7 million tickets in Japan within 10 weeks of its formal release and features Kou Shibasaki (Battle Royale) as one of the leads.

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