Live Action: Sennen no Koi

August 25th, 2004

Sennen no Koi: Hikaru Genji Monogatari, (A Thousand Years of Love: The Tale of Genji,) pretty much came and went without anyone noticing it much. Which is a real shame, because as far as gender-bending and yuri go, this movie kind of rolls it all into one neat silly little fun package.

The novel, The Tale of Genji, written by Murasaki Shikibu, is the oldest written tale in the world of a pretty boy and his clothes. The novel portrays his romantic pursuits over the course of his life in amazing, and to my mind, excruciating, detail. lol (There’s just something overwhelming about page after page that describe individual layers of robes, and scents from incense-smelling games.) Not only is it the first novel to be written, period, and by a woman at that, but it’s also the first shoujo novel, which means you can bet that Murasaki is to blame for the flowers and bubble-filled backgrounds of so many shoujo stories throughout the years.

The movie Sennen no Koi is in no way a literal interpretation of the Tale of Genji. It’s liberally sprinkled with the addition of action, plot, special effects, and, uh, ghosts. And gender-bending. Because, you see, the original novel is the story of a pretty boy pursuing women. But Sennen no Koi is a movie of a pretty boy, played by a lovely young woman, pursuing women. ^_^

Aside from the cosmetic change of Amami Yuki’s (very pleasant to look at) portrayal of Genji, a second story is interwoven into Sennen no Koi. This is the (also freely interpreted) life of the author Murasaki Shikibu, and her adventures at court. These seem to be drawn almost whole from the novel Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby, so it was pretty easy for me to follow. From my perspective, the movie includes an awful lot of affection between Murasaki and her royal charge, the Princess to whom she is telling Genji’s story. So, if you *really* wanted to, you could make a whole subtexty thing between them, as well. The role of Murasaki is absolutely *nailed* by Yoshinaga Sayuri – she might have been drawn directly from some painting of Murasaki…everything about her was exactly as I’d imagine it to be.

As I mentioned, there is a lot more action and s/fx than Murasaki ever dreamed Genji would have to deal with, but as loose interpretations of great classics go, this one was pretty fun. And Yuki could write me morning poems any day… ;-)

One amusing yuri manga tie-in here. One of the supporting cast of Sennen no Koi is Minamoto Youko, who, waaaay back in 1987, played Asamiya Saki, the heroine of Shinji Wada’s girl-gang epic Sukeban Deka on TV.

Ratings:

Story – 8, it’s fun and easy to follow even raw.
Characters – 10. I mean, these characters are timeless….
Cinematography – 8

Overall – 8.

It’s not as slow as the real Genji and not as real as Murasaki’s life, but the movie, and Yuki as Genji, was cute. ^_^

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