Haikara-San: Here Comes Miss Modern (Part One)

Released 2017

3 stars (out of 4)

Benio is a teenaged girl living in 1920s Japan. Contrary to the expectations of her family and school, she is more interested, and has more skill, in kendo than in housekeeping. She is also very much against the idea of arranged marriages, which turns out to be a problem when her father reveals that she has long been betrothed to a young army lieutenant, and understandably, there was never a good time for him to tell her!

The film starts out moderately paced, with good time for development of the characters and the setting. Benio and her fiancé Shinobu both prove to be likeable people. I also appreciate that Shinobu’s grandfather’s discomfort at the whole marriage arrangement gets addressed on multiple levels.

However, a few scenes in the second half feel strangely truncated, including the part where Shinobu fights to earn the respect of his charges in the army, the parting of Benio and Ranmaru, and Benio’s seemingly ill-informed response to the riot during her first assignment as a journalist.

I have to stress that this movie is only the first half of the Haikara-San story, and so, it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. Other than that though, it is a funny, enjoyable, and well-animated adaptation of a classic shoujo manga.

anohana THE MOVIE: The Flower We Saw That Day

3 stars (out of 4)

Released 2013 (in Japan)

Taking place a year after the events of the 2011 TV series, the anohana movie expands on the group’s past through the eyes of each surviving member as they compose letters to their lost friend, Menma.

This film is comprised of a significant amount of reused footage interspersed with new material. In spite of this, it is recommended to watch the series first, as it can be difficult to tell which scenes are from the past and which are in the present if you are not already familiar with the story. And, there’s no straightforward recap about Menma’s death or how her return as a ghost brought the Super Peace Busters back together, either.

All in all, I found the film to be a satisfying continuation of the series. It was a nice way to revisit these old friends. While I personally had no trouble remaining dry-eyed throughout, be aware that this movie can be quite the tearjerker for more sensitive viewers.