Delicate, mahal ko.
There’s something about her delicate face, her vulnerability that draws him in. He couldn’t quite explain it. So when he found out she was catching the last train home, he quickly volunteered to walk her there. They had less than a few minutes to catch it so they had to run. The night air rushed through their faces, neither of them knew when they ran as fast or could explain why they were smiling, giggling.
As they turned a corner they see the last tram going off the station, just missing it. Both were disappointed. Kota Sagano (Kazuya Kamenashi) surprised himself when he looked down, he was still holding her hand.Their plans change and he instead asks to call a cab for Kako Motoya (Tao Tsuchiya).
Kota: Do you have a boyfriend? Kako: If I did I wouldn’t have joined the mixer. Kota: I see. You don’t have one. That’s good. Kako: What about you? Kota: I’m currently single. Next time can the two of us meet up? Kako: What? Kota: No…That is if you don’t hate that. Kako: Not at all. [Both of them laugh]Kota: How do I put it, sometimes I say thank you too much or being too polite without being honest. What I really want is to get to know you better, that’s how I feel. How long have you been living here?
Kako: Well, all my 16 years. Kota: I see…(His face suddenly changes) What?? 16 years? Aren’t you 22 years old? (Sensing his growing anger and frustration she immediately bows) Kako: I’m sorry. Actually today I was just called to fill in for someone. I had to say my age was 22 years old. The tone of his voice changes too. Kota: (Looks disappointed) You have to go home now. Kako: Can’t we at least exchange emails? Kota: Huh? You still have the nerve to say that? Stop this nonsense…little brat. Kako: (Screams) I’m sorry! (She then immediately runs away)
The English title of this Japanese movie is POLICEMAN AND ME the original is P to JK (PとJK P to JK) acronyms for Police and Joshi Kōsei, Japanese for “high school girl”. P to JK is actually a wildly successful manga (comic book) created by Maki Miyoshi. It’s a title that was started in 2013 that is still currently on going. Each volume seems to outsell the previous one. By 2016 the series has sold 2.1 million copies. POLICEMAN AND ME is currently airing on RED by HBO.
The story isn’t your typical manga romance, which deals with teen marriage. Kota Sagano, a 26-year-old cop, genuinely falls for Kako Motoya a 16-year-old highschooler, he mistakes as 22. He didn’t want to sully her reputation by just dating her, especially at that age. He also didn’t want to let go and not see her at all. So he decided to propose marriage to her and ask her hand in marriage from her parents. 16 is the minimum marrying age for women in Japan but requires parental consent.
Their plan was to keep it under wraps from most people until she graduated. Her father was understandably against it but felt powerless to prevent them from the marriage. Kako reached a compromise with her father to not get her pregnant until after graduation. There weren’t any vulgar sex scenes, quite the opposite. Both of them seemed to be quite awkward in that regard.
Tao Tsuchiya is adorable as Kako, with equal parts of innocence, naiveté, stubbornness and determination. Not knowing how to be physically affectionate with her husband she’d approach him, close her eyes and pucker her lips waiting for him to kiss her.
Kazuya Kamenashi as Kota is the bigger star of the two as an established success in both music and film. Most fans agree he played the character close to the manga version.
Aging, Shrinking Population
From an outsider, accepting the under age factor may be too much to ask. Especially if you think that even the manga or comic book is classified in the ‘shojo’ genre, which is targeted for young girls.
This is one story that may highlight cultural differences. In the U.S. or even here in the Philippines getting married at 16 or even 18 is sometimes perceived as a problem. Teen pregnancy is something that has to be addressed as an issue and concern. While not necessarily ‘normal’ in Japan, there seems to be some factors why or how the government can view teen marriage as a positive.
With an aging population, there’s an increasing need for higher birthrates. Social scientists, even political experts have all agreed that the aging population will also lead to it shrinking. By 2050 Japan’s current 127million will only be 107 million. ‘The demographic shift is threatening the existence of rural communities, contributing to a ballooning public debt and starving the economy of labor.’[From Japan’s Shrinking Population by Isabel Reynolds –Bloomberg.com]
Basically there are not enough young people to work in farms, or supply the labor force in other sectors that keep the whole country running. This is only one of the problems they face.Which isn’t to say that either the manga or the film was necessarily government produced. But rather, getting married younger and having a higher probability of having children (or more children) is a message that may be made acceptable because of this problem.
Hiroki’s Wide Shot
Ryūichi Hiroki as director was able to balance a certain amount of realism and the fantasy or romance of the relationship that attracted so many readers. His style was very unobtrusive but in my mind quite effective. I loved his use of long shots even during dialogue. The shot size of the people talking, take up only 1/4th or a quarter of the screen.
From a wide shot or long shot Hiroki sometimes would dolly in almost imperceptibly during a dialogue scene. The longer or wider shot removes the need to cut from one face to the next making it more efficient, editing wise. We get to appreciate the performance and delivery even more in my opinion. Then when the lines necessitate, he moves into a close up. Because he uses the close up less it then becomes more effective in a way. As a viewer you don’t necessarily notice his techniques, doesn’t call attention to itself, but you can ‘feel’ it.
An added benefit to the wide shot, as a viewer I tend to look at the environs and their surroundings. Ota City in this case is part of the Tokyo Metropolitan area but is more of the suburbs. It’s a city that has a small town feel. While having a commercial district it has a lot of tree lined streets. It doesn’t have the tower or skyscrapers dominating the Tokyo skyline. The electric cable car or tram figures in the story early. Which is actually a common mode of transport throughout Japan.
Ota City incidentally is home to CANON and ANA Airlines among other large corporations.
Hiroki allows us to see all this, where the characters literal place is on the screen ergo the location. I don’t know if Ota is the same location in the manga or was specified. But even Ota Shingako High School figured prominently. This is where Kako, goes to school and a lot of the scenes take place. The school boasts of an expansive campus and probably the biggest brass band I’ve ever seen.
Whether it’s the movie POLICEMAN AND ME or from the enduring success of the P to JK manga, the bottom line is, to cherish love at any age.