Well I just finished watching Kakera, a live-action adaptation of Sakurazawa Erika’s Love Vibes manga. In a word, it was abysmal.
The original was a short romance between two women, each who have other attachments they need to clear up before they can get together comfortably. The main conflict comes from Mako’s discomfort with “being gay,” when she is still in a “I’m not gay, I just love you” mindset…and the issue of her boyfriend who feels that he’s allowed to leave her, but when she leaves him for another woman, gets angry. You know, pretty normal stuff. If you are interested, you can read my review of the Love Vibes manga from back in 2004.
The original ended on a high point, maybe a little idealistically, as Mika and Mako go running off together hand in hand.
The movie pretty much squeezes the life out of the original story, and fills the gaps with the movie equivalent of formaldehyde, giving it body without making it look truly alive, and leaving behind an unpleasant smell.
Mako, the cheerful, average girl with an average boyfriend has been turned into a total wet rag, Haru. Mika, the energetic bisexual now becomes Riko, a sculptor of prosthetic body parts who lives at home and is…strange.
The idea that Riko could find *anything* appealing about Haru is hard to swallow for most of the movie. And when they do kiss, it’s that typical Japanese no-movement, no-reaction dry lip pressing that just makes me want to stab something. Every time you almost sort of start to like one or both of the characters for a second, or the movie shows some sign of life, an awkward, unpleasant and usually depressing scene is inserted that stops the momentum and ruins the mood.
In an interview, the director proudly says she rewrote about 80% of the original story. All I can say is that she has some serious issues, if this was written with her life experiences in mind. (Thanks to Katherine H for the link to the interview. It explained a lot.)
What really just kills this movie dead is that it utterly craps all over the happy ending of the manga. Forget running off hand in hand. I won’t tell you what happens, because it’ll just piss you off.
This is exactly how not to do a live-action adaptation of a manga.