Zutto Mae kara Suki deshita: Kokuhaku Jikkou Iinkai – Movie Review

Writer: Yoshimi Narita

Genre: Romance, School

Duration: 1 hour 3 minutes

Production Studio: Qualia Studios

 

Introduction

Zutto Mae Kara Suki Deshita: Kokuhaku Jikkou Iinkai is based off the Honeyworks vocaloid song project named “Kokuhaku Jikkou Iinkai ~Renai Series~”. Let’s start with a brief introduction to the inspiration of this movie. Honeyworks is a popular song writer and vocaloid producer who has produced music for numerous anime such as Naruto, Gintama and many more. The said project consists of songs that link to each other via character interactions and relationships but we’ll get to that later.

As a Honeyworks fanatic myself, I was thrilled when I heard about an upcoming movie based off his songs and well, the thrill came with big expectations too like following the exact flow of respective song lyrics while being able to hit watchers off guard with an unexpected scene. Well, with a movie based off a vocaloid project with great music and great plot, what’s not to expect?

 

Storyline Premise

This movie seems to be putting together the songs in the Renai Series to become one single story, making it much clearer for fans to better understand the storyline of the vocaloid series. The main characters are Yuu Setoguchi (cv. Hiroshi Kamiya), Natsuki Enomoto (cv. Haruka Tomatsu), Koyuki Ayase (cv. Tsubasa Yonaga), Souta Mochizuki (cv. Yuki Kaji), Akari Hayasaka (cv. Kana Asumi), Haruki Serizawa (cv. Kenichi Suzumura) and Miou Aida (cv. Aki Toyosaki). The movie seems to be centered around the love trials of the said individuals, each facing different issues that someway, somehow, relate to confessions. Be it fear of rejection or being unbearably shy.

Of course, out of seven main characters, a few are bound to stand out the most and those few are Yuu, Natsuki and Koyuki. Their relationship is based on “Confession Rival Declaration”, “Confession Rehearsal” and “Diagnosis Lovesickness” which are three of many songs in the Renai series. Ultimately, I have to say it’s pretty cute. Your not-so-average tomboy wrecking her nerves on how she can go about with confessing to her childhood friend while being chased after by a guy who’d gone through a complete makeover. There were also certain scenes that made squealing an uncontrollable urge but I won’t spoil that for you!

Souta and Akari. Ah, unrequited love at its best. “Solution to Jealousy” is definitely the song for this couple. This shows us a peculiar yet not uncommon case when it comes to love. Being in love with a girl you’ve only ever talked to once within two entire years of liking her is definitely a painful feat! Its main focus seems to be on a girl who slowly but steadily falls in love with a guy that overcame his fears and doubts to strongly confess to her, eventually giving him a chance and it’s just wonderful to spectate this growing attraction.

Haruki and Miou’s relationship honestly seemed to be very neglected, plot-wise, in the movie. There wasn’t much screentime for this couple. Their relationship is based off “Hatsukoi no Ehon” which is in Miou’s perspective. Their relationship is just plain adorable and it would’ve been more lovable if more attention was put into it! Both parties being too shy or afraid to make a move like holding hands is just absolutely, irresistibly cute and even relatable to some! Though, it is quite disheartening to see them pull back from what could’ve possibly been a cute moment.

 

Art and Animation

The art is very unique in a sense that it’s very similar to the art from Honeyworks’ music videos but it isn’t as detailed. The hair isn’t shaded as well and unlike the art in the MVs, it doesn’t really pop. If it were to be compared with other anime movies that were released in Fall 2016, the art and animation would seem to be only subpar. What I do want to point out is that, no doubt the art is very shoujo-like which is very fitting, especially, for a movie based off love songs. In my opinion, the way the eyes sparkle is very attractive and the motions of the way the characters move are generally smooth. The animation is a little choppy when the characters are distant or simply talking and I think it could’ve been done much better.

Verdict: Average art, quality of animation could’ve been better, plenty of room for improvement.

Sound and Music

Lots of Honeyworks’ songs were used in the movie and of course, it wouldn’t be a Honeyworks project without them. I personally like how they used songs that directly correlate to specific scenes with the vocals omitted. That’s because I feel like the vocals would overpower the talking and general feel of the scene itself, an example being the scenes before Souta’s anticipated confession with ‘Solution to Jealousy”.

However, listening to vocals after watching those scenes really makes you feel so much more emotions than just what you feel while watching the scenes! The voice acting cast consists of a few popular voice actors like Kamiya Hiroshi but the acting itself was not exactly spectacular. It’s fine as it is but I feel that it could’ve been done better. Yuki Kaji, though, is known for voice acting strong and brash characters and though his voice didn’t seem to fit quite right for Souta’s shy, almost cowardly personality, it was definitely portrayed well!

I also realised that the way the characters talk and sound are much different from certain other anime in a sense that they talk like actual students, not super cute, perfect characters in school uniforms. So although the acting was not spectacular, it seemed very natural.

Verdict: The music is great, as expected from Honeyworks and the voice acting is well done and seems relaxed, in a good way.

 

Characterization

There are many characters that play important roles in this movie so I’ll just mention the ones I think are necessary. The first character being Natsuki Enomoto, an active and friendly third year who is facing love issues. She sports a high bun and wears long red tracks beneath her skirt. As a sort of tomboy-ish character, it would only be normal for her to not really know what to do when it comes to love. It was revealed in the movie that she realised that she’d fallen in love after accidentally witnessing a girl confess to Yuu, her childhood friend. Thus resulting in her growing affection towards him.

Even as a tomboy, she definitely does have a feminine side which is shown when she gets flustered and nervous. I think she’s a wonderful character as she seems very cheerful, making the movie itself much livelier than it would’ve been, she also seems really brash in making decisions, going with her gut and not really thinking twice about it.

Yuu Setoguchi is one of those cool, distant characters. Of course he doesn’t act that way towards Natsuki, probably having been through thick and thin with her and Souta Mochizuki, who is also one of their childhood friends. He’s a tall, lean guy with purple eyes. He’s very supportive towards Natsuki, having agreed to be her confession practise buddy even when he had no idea who she’d planned to confess to.

He is also very protective of her as shown when he’d interfered in an uncomfortable situation for Natsuki and leaving with her when she cried. He has a sister named Hina and they’re shown to be very close as siblings. In my opinion, he’s most likely to be the heartthrob out of all the attractive characters here. Cool and distant but caring with a sarcastic sense of humour and cute when he needs to be.

Koyuki Ayase, ah the feminine guy with the drastic makeover. As a character, he’s very soft spoken and kind but he seems to get easily caught up in the moment and he tries his best to get what he wants. He has silver hair with bangs swept to the side, pretty hard to miss. In the movie, he makes various advances towards Natsuki, his love interest, like giving her tickets to a Honeyworks concert, managing to take a completely dense and oblivious Natsuki on a date. He doesn’t seem too fond of Yuu as he knows that Natsuki is in love with him. Hina, Yuu’s younger sister, has been seen watching Koyuki from a distance. He seems to be the antagonist of the movie. He isn’t a bad guy but he’s mostly getting in between the ‘main couple’ and well, if that doesn’t make him the antagonist, I don’t know what it makes him!

Verdict: The characters are all very unique. They show how much someone’s personality can change when it comes to love and how strong love can be to cause you to actually want that change. I do want to address the lack of backstory but it doesn’t seem to be an issue here in my opinion as it wouldn’t really seem relevant to the flow of the plot.

Conclusion

As a movie based off a vocaloid project, it’s very predictable for watchers who have gone through the project itself but it would be nice for those who haven’t checked the Renai Series out yet. The movie really does follow the songs scene for scene and at times, even quotes the song! I think it would’ve been much more enjoyable if they had added a few “surprise factors” into the movie so those who have gone through the Renai Series would be able to the get the excitement of thinking, ‘What’s going to happen next?”.

Overall, it’s good but there isn’t much character development on the neglected couple, Haruki and Miou. Personally, I wouldn’t mind watching it again but it’s not something I would choose to watch again because the plot is already very predictable and I say this from a Honeyworks fanatic point of view.

However, I would recommend it to those who haven’t heard of the Renai Series or at least, haven’t heard it, because mainly what I don’t like about the movie is that you’re spoiled before the movie is even released but people who haven’t been spoiled would probably enjoy the movie much more.

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