Yu Aoi Film Discussion – RIRI SHUSHU no Subete – All About Lily Chou Chou

October 3, 2008 — 18 Comments

This is the first film I saw with Yu Aoi, without knowing who Yu Aoi was~~ I didn’t even know who Shunji Iwai was. I only decided to watch this because I liked the poster. Yes, I can be shallow like that because I didn’t even bother to read the synopsis… which I have found to be, most of the times, better than knowing what the film is about.

Here’s a bit about the film:
(from Wikipedia)
This 2001 film directed and written by Shunji Iwai, stars Hayato Ichihara (Yuichi) and Shugo Oshinari (Hoshino), as two childhood friends that go through changes between their time in Junior High, and High School.

Genre: Drama (Some disturbing situations involving young people.)
Starring: Hayato Ichihara, Shugo Oshinari, Ayumi Ito, Yu Aoi
Written and directed by: Shunji Iwai
Duration: +2hr

You can watch the film in 17 parts on YouTube.

Spoilers ahead~ You’ve been warned~

Lily Chou Chou no Subete - PosterThe film begins with a series of encrypted messages and the sound of keystrokes, as Japanese characters begin appearing, talking about Lily Chou Chou. Probably a very common notion, there are several people discussing events regarding Lily, her music and the Ether on a community forum.

I was enthralled by the use of simple typographic elements, and music. As the characters’ Internet persona interact, we see a young boy in an amazingly beautiful green rice field… simple, but hunting. He’s listening music with a portable cd player, and just stands there.

My first thought was “OMG, this boy is so pretty” – and I felt like a perv, because Hayato Ichihara was just a young boy, and I didn’t know how old he was then, and didn’t know how old he was now… LOL’ Okay, moving on…

The thing about Lily Chou Chou is that all the lives of these young people end up tangled one way or another with Lily’s music. Her music is also one of the reasons I dare to watch this film again… Salyu, who plays the part of Lily, has such an enchanting voice, and once you listen to just the soundtrack… it’s just like magic. LOL’

Okay, on to the characters… especially the boys. The first time I saw this, I felt SICK. Actually, it still makes me SICK. I don’t care about their reasons, if they felt no one understood them, or if they had problems… there is not a good reason that could justify what they all did. Ugh, and don’t even get me started on those girls…

However, I do appreciate the film for what it is… it makes you feel something, there’s always a knot inside… It’s hard to describe. The first time I saw it, I was actually more drawn towards Yu Aoi’s character, Shiori Tsuda, even though I should have been more disgusted towards what they did to Yoko Kuno (Ayumi Ito)… maybe it is because Tsuda ends up killing herself.

I think the film is almost like really dark beautiful poetry… it’s beautiful to watch, but it always leaves you with a feeling of impending doom. Le sigh… can you feel that I just finished watching?

ANYWAY! Onto Yu Aoi. I swear, I did NOT know who she was. *scout’s honor* – She plays Shiori Tsuda, one of the many classmates involved. Apparently she had been, er… doing ‘favors’ for men who could pay (I’m not entirely sure actually), and Hoshino had a tape, which he uses to extortionate her… so basically, Hoshino becomes her pimp. He calls, and Tsuda has to be where he tells her when he tells her. Like I said before, Shunji Iwai + Yu Aoi = genius.

This role, though quite small, is quite interesting because we get a young girl, who seems quite innocent, but has woken up to a reality she’s being forced into. It’s a juxtaposition of ideas when we see her lying on her bed with plush toys everywhere, on top of a giant teddy bear… quite the kid really, when she gets a call from Yuichi who has apparently arranged a meeting with a guy that likes her. Wondering, she calls back again and asks whether this guy is a ‘client’, whether this date has anything to do with Hoshino. Sad, non? A 14-year-old who hears the word “boy” or “men” and thinks of “clients”. But Tsuda is just an almost average 14-year-old… she listens to music, she eats in restaurants with friends, she has fun…

However, Tsuda is not average… and when asked if she wanted to be in a relationship, she says no. She cannot pretend to be chirpy, all happy-go-lucky wondering what’s her boyfriend’s blood type. Plus, she doesn’t need someone to look after her… she’s got Yuichi doing that, non? But he likes Kuno… how ironic? He hurts that someone he likes, and tries to protect someone else…

Story:★★★½☆ 
Characters:★★★½☆ 
Direction:★★★★☆ 
Acting:★★★★☆ 
Visuals:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 
Yu Aoi Participation:★★½☆☆ 
Yu Aoi Performance:★★★★½ 

Favorite Scene: The scene of Tsuda and Yuichi at the restaurant, after Tsuda has stolen her client’s money.

NOTE: How creepy is it? Tsuda’s client is played by Sugimoto Tetta, who plays Seiji (Sei-san) on Osen. xD

Here are some posters:

18 responses to Yu Aoi Film Discussion – RIRI SHUSHU no Subete – All About Lily Chou Chou

  1. I think Iwaî is a genius and this one stands as a favorite. Over the years it has reached cult status really. Haunting story, haunting soundtrack and the contrast between the visuals (extremely light and poetic) and the tough themes (death, frustration, suicide, bullying…) is stunning.

  2. I love many things about Iwai as a filmmaker, one of them is how beautiful he can make everything… and well, the soundtrack~~ I love Salyu’s voice, but i think this soundtrack is one of the bests!

    The thing about this film, it’s soooo tough to watch… like witness an accident, and you want to look away. Iwai crafted a film so beautiful, you go back to it… sighs.

  3. —————————–SPOILERS——————————

    I also posted on IMDB.

    Okay, I think that I may have picked up on something from watching this film several times. I may be digging too deep with this analysis, but hear me out.

    Take the three main characters in the film that are being bullied by Hoshino….=Kuno, Tsuda, and Yuichi. I’ve noticed that each time one of these characters ‘redeem themselves’, a ray of light is shinning.

    Take Kuno for instance. After being raped, she could have taken the easy way out and dropped out of school. Instead, she decides that she will not be bullied anymore and so stands up to them by shaving her head. In a way, she is sort of redeeming herself for her past actions of allowing the bullying to occur time and time again without fighting back. When the teacher is doing roll call, a ray of light shines on kuno’s empty desk right before she walks in with the shaved head.

    As for Tsuda, she defies her bully and redeems herself in her own way by committing suicide. After her death, we are shown her empty classroom desk with a bundle of flowers on it. If you notice, a huge ray of light is shining down on that desk.

    After killing Hoshino and putting a stop to the bullying once and for all, Yuichi has a conference with his teacher. At the conclusion, his teacher asks him to tell Kuno that its time to go home and so he slowly walks by her and stops directly under a ray of light. He watches and waits for her to stop playing the piano, all the time being directly in the path of the shinning light. In my opinion, he will ask for her forgiveness when she’s done.

    My theory is that this ray of light represents redemption. You know….these characters were “in the dark” and now have been shown the light type of deal!

    Any takers? Or am I overreaching?

  4. I haven’t seen AALCC in a while, so I can’t be sure on your “ray of light” theme. But the film is utterly depressing to me. Kuno did stand up to it all by showing up with her shaved head, but it still feels like impotence.

    Tsuda, however… she’s the one I feel sorry for the most because she kills herself. It’s so heartbreaking… so powerless, yet so powerful. xD

    And Yuichi… he’s trapped into a new bullying cycle.

    To tie this up with your theme, maybe they were all in the light and ended in the dark. The ray of light is just the shimmer to remind you of the light surrounding our own darkness? xD

  5. Very interesting!

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