Saturday, August 18, 2007

Ima, Ai Ni Yukimasu (Japan 2004)

Ima, Ai Ni Yukimasu (Be With You) is an incredibly moving story about the strength, love, and bond of one family. It may seem like it was crafted specifically for the sole purpose of tugging at the heart-strings, and that very well could be the case, but that doesn't make it any less touching and enjoyable to watch.

Takumi (Shido Nakamura) and his six year old son Yuji (Akashi Takei) are managing to move on with their lives after the tragic passing of Yuji's mother Mio (Yuko Takeuchi). Yuji is at such a young age that he doesn't quite understand the concept of death and believes that his mother will return to him just as she promised. The reason behind this is because the storybook his mother made him tells of the "rainy season return story" that says when she leaves this earth, she'll go visit the Akaiba star and will eventually return for the entire rainy season the following year. It doesn't help matters that Takumi tells his son that his mother is coming back because he just doesn't have the heart to tell him the truth. It also seems as if Takumi has a small part of himself that wants to believe the story as well, because he always felt as if his condition was a burden to her. Takumi suffers from an illness that causes him to lose control over his basic motor functions if he over-exerts his body. His illness always made him feel inferior as a husband and father because he couldn't do things "normal" fathers can. Dr. Noguchi (Fumiyo Kohinata) tries to help Takumi manage his illness and is a close friend and confidant for him as well. On top of these troubles, Mio's family blames Takumi for getting together with their daughter at such a young age and claim that giving birth to Yuji was too much of a strain on Mio's body. Sadly, Yuji believes the nasty things his relatives say and feels he's to blame for his mother's death.

One rainy day, Takumi takes Yuji out to play in an abandoned shelter in the middle of the forest. While looking for the time capsule he and his mother hid, Yuji looks up to find Mio sitting in an open doorway looking lost and confused. After the initial shock of seeing her again, Takumi and Yuji can't believe Mio is back and it seems as if Mio doesn't remember anything about them or her life. Memory or no memory, the boys are happy to have Mio back, but have to take extra precautions to make sure no one else knows it. They aren't quite sure what's going on, but they have no idea how they'd explain Mio coming back from the dead. Yuji really wants to tell his friend Aya (Karen Miyama) and his teacher (You). Even Takumi's co-worker Midori (Mikako Ichikawa), who just happens to have a crush on him, notices a difference in his mood. After realizing Yuji's storybook was a creation of her own design, Mio fears that everything in the book will soon play out in the real world. She begins to make preparations for leaving, such as teaching Yuji how to cook, clean, and garden. She evens asks Midori to look over them both when she's gone. As time continues to pass and the rainy season begins to come to an end, everyone becomes increasingly worried that Mio will soon be leaving...including Mio herself.

Sometimes a movie can be both heart-warming and heart-breaking, and Ima, Ai Ni Yukimasu delivers in both areas. The story left me feeling a bit conflicted, because on one hand I'm thinking how great it would be to spend time with a loved one that had passed. On the other hand, I also felt that the whole idea behind seeing that loved one again, only to have them leave after a short time, seemed incredibly cruel. To lose someone you love more than once would be a pain you'd think most couldn't bare. I guess it's all a matter of perspective, as some would do anything to see that special someone again. The performances from Shido Nakamura and Yuko Takeuchi are literally award-winning, and Akashi Takei as little Yuji is one of the best child actor's I've seen regardless of a movie's nation of origin. A strong supporting cast help to round-out the movie as a whole and really make Ima, Ai Ni Yukimasu all about the performances. I have to warn you, if you're a sensitive person and cry during movies, then you better bring an extra-large box of tissue with you because this is one sad movie!

I've seen the ten-episode drama of Ima, Ai Ni Yukimasu and now the film version. Both versions were excellent, however, if you've seen one, than you've really seen the other as not much is changed between the two. Even little Yuji is played by the same actor in the TV drama. Regardless of how you see Ima, Ai Ni Yukimasu, it's a great story with wonderful performances and like me, I think you'll love every minute of it. (Lee)

Buy Ima, Ai Ni Yukimasu on DVD at YESASIA!

Buy the Ima, Ai Ni Yukimasu drama on DVD at YESASIA!
*No English Subtitles

4 comments: said...

First, I must say I still wait for the rainy season, since my wife passed away 3 years ago.
Then I must point to Mio's timeline. The accident confronted her with the dilemma between a normal life without Takumi or one rainy season with him and their son.
Than there is the scene when she crosses a bridge and make a decission to (literally) return to her lifetime love. So she jumps to the rainy season time to spend the rest of her life with her new family. Tat's why she doesn't remember anything about the time they wew=re married. When she has to go back to Akaiba, she returns and goes directly to Takumi in the sunflower crop to tell him that she loves him and that she chose to spend short but precious time with him.
It is a wonderful and underrated movie I keep in my heart.
I would like to watch the series too, but I don't know where to find it.
I also am surprised that, after 5 years, I'm the only one to post a comment here.

Anonymous said...

We've just watched this movie in our Japanese class and everyone was crying their eyes out... except for one individual. This individual happens to be my friend and though we disagree we (as in the entire class) had a talk with him about why he hated the ending of the movie and why he was so wrong to do so.

His side: Takumi is the main character and "the point of the movie is to feel sorry for Takumi because of how pathetic he is and relate to Takumi. They should not have shown Mio's perspective because she is just not relatable. Women can't see into the future!"

My comeback: "They needed to show that Takumi learned to control his illness with Mio's help. They also needed to show that she chose a life with Takumi and Yuji despite knowing it would not last over a normal life without her loves - thus the title 'Ima, Ai Ni Yukimasu.' They also needed to show that Takumi couldn't do it himself, Mio was the one that needed to help him find confidence in himself because she knew that his whole issue was the idea that he couldn't make Mio happy. She was there to tell him that. Oh and by the way, yes, yes we can see into the future."

:D Love love love this movie! It was the best character development movie I have ever seen besides the film 'Tada, Kimi Wo Aishiteru' and, honestly, 'Click.' said...

You are right, Rychele, she came back for him and their son. The scene when she talked to another woman to ask her to take care of her husband after she's gone - was absolutely sublime. Some women can do that, as hard as it can be. Their love give them that strength.
Excellent movie, much better than Heavenly Forrest.

Anonymous said...

Just saw the movie now,...and i'm speechless,..not that its the best movie i'v watched so far, but, was seriously moving,..i loved the romance.