Actor combinations are strange things. If I like a potential pairing, I might actually want to be nice and check out their previous works, just to be sure I won’t be in for a rude shock when said pairing actually graces my screen. So it was with some interest that I watched Hirunaka no Ryuusei, a light and fluffy film adaptation of the shoujo manga by Yamamori Mika.
When her parents move to Bangladesh and decide not to take her along, Yosano Suzume (Nagano Mei) moves to Tokyo to live with her uncle Yukichi. Lost in the big city, she sees a shooting star during the day and also gets help from a man, Shishio Satsuki (Miura Shohei), who turns out to be her teacher at school. Suzume also tries to make friends with her standoffish classmate Mamura Daiki (Shirahama Alan), who is actually a gynophobe…
I had not given Hirunaka no Ryuusei much thought until Nagano Mei was cast for the asadora Hanbun, Aoi, and my interest peaked when Sato Takeru joined as her co-star and potential love interest. I then remembered dmohican14 doing a write-up for this film before the premiere, and realised Miura Shohei was also in it – he wasn’t half bad in Kanojo wa uso wo aishisugiteru, and I was kinda tickled by the fact that he, Nagano and Sato are now “interconnected” in some way. My brain does work in strange ways.
The storyline is fairly typical, and the ending rather predictable. A young, impressionable girl falling for her charismatic teacher is pretty common in shoujo romances, but I liked that Suzume had a good head on her shoulders and Shishio tried to do the right thing by her at every other turn – he was also considerably more mature and sensible than his manga counterpart, for which I was grateful. One big plus for film Shishio was that while he confessed to Suzume that he still loved her, he respected and accepted her choice to go to Mamura, and even advised Suzume to tell Mamura straight. He did not cling to Suzume or pester her (except for that once when he hugged her unexpectedly in the classroom), and was just generally sweet on her even as he had to do the painful thing to let her go. I also liked how Suzume framed her first love for her teacher, and that she was courageous enough to not only see it in that light, but to accept that it was important to her and then move on from there. Whatever angst there was was beautifully done and I thought how Suzume and Shishio came to that mutual understanding was lovely, understated and tasteful.
I generally don’t get “second lead syndrome”, but I have to say I was hoping for Suzume and Shishio to end up together. Technically, Miura is the bigger star of the two men with second billing in the poster, so he wasn’t really the second lead, but since his character didn’t get the girl, he suffers the fate of most typical second leads who pine but never get their heart’s desire. I enjoyed much more the chemistry between Nagano and Miura, and thought they made the better pairing and had the more interesting love story (in the manga, Shishio and Suzume did date for a short while). In contrast, Mamura was a fairly stock character (his gynophobia was an interesting trait, but wasn’t well explored in the film), although I thought it was good of him to push Suzume to confront her feelings for Shishio because she’d been avoiding the issue. However, I found Shirahama Alan pretty stiff and boring as Mamura. He had little zing and appeal, and didn’t have much chemistry with Nagano either. Perhaps I’d feel differently about Mamura had Sakaguchi Kentaro played him – according to the mangaka, Mamura was modelled after Sakaguchi.
The good thing about having watched the film was that I came away from it anticipating Nagano’s performance in Hanbun, Aoi and hoping she’ll have some really sweet sparks with Sato. I also liked how the title likened first love to shooting stars, and that it was reflected in the characters and in Suzume’s realisation of it all. Overall, a decent watch with charming performances from both Nagano and Miura.
If there’s an AU, Chun-chun should definitely end up with her sensei.