Shunji Iwai’s neo-classical romance, Love Letter, about the woman who wrote letters to her deceased lover and got responses back, is over 20 years old now since its release. However, its mark as a pop culture reference across Asia is undeniable. In its time, the film made actress Miho Nakayama a household name, and it launched Shunji Iwai’s filmmaking career (and hence has given us: Ayumi Ito and Yu Aoi).
The film’s style and cinematography, courtesy of Noboru Shinoda (RIP) has inspired countless of filmmakers across East Asia who have headed to Otaru (小樽市) or other similar snowy places to capture the essence of the film [cue: 张一白 Zhang Yibai’s segment in Run for Love (奔爱), which featured Eddie Peng and Zhang Ziyi], and the classic (though simple) quote of “o-genki desuka?” (お元気ですか？)  has been referenced in various places…
Just look at the members of -relatively new- Kpop group G-FRIEND, who played a round of movie quotes to decide who would be the host of that specific One Fine Day episode’s segment (10 months after their debut). The group is formed by 6 young women, all who were born post-95. In fact, eldest member (and leader of the group), Sowon, was born almost 8 months after the release of Love Letter. But it is member Yuju (’97) who first references the movie with the knowledge of all the group.
So if you put your hands close together to shout out the words “o-genki desuka?” and the person in front answers back the same way with a “atashi genki desu.” That’s a Shunji Iwai shout-out to ya~
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