Ai Shima is a troubled young woman. Her mother, a religious cultist, sends her away to a cult centre for seven years, further destabilising her fragile psyche. When she returns to schooling Ai catches the attention of fellow classmate Ryota, who falls in love with this peculiar girl. While the two never seem to quite come together, their relationship forms the basis for an exploration of everything from gang culture, Japanese youth, drug abuse, religion, sex and pornography and what causes relationships to form. Through several secondary characters, such as family, friends, gang members, and others, we get a look at the complex web of competing loyalties that form a modern life.

Eiji Uchida (Lowlife Love) writes and directs and once again has created a vivid warts-and-all portrait of modern Japan and in particular youth culture. The cinematography is fantastic, both in the shots of the majestic Mount Fuji and surrounding fields and forests and in the urban streets of Tokyo, complete with hostess bars and all the elements that make up a modern city. The script brings in so many elements that there is rarely a dull moment in the ninety minute film. Sairi Ito, who plays Ai, is truly great in the film as a social chameleon who seems to adapt to every situation she is in, whether cultist, adopted daughter, gang member, or porn actress. Every role she takes on seems like a natural progression, no matter how bizarre it might seem on paper. The supporting cast also do an incredible job of building a believable world of various characters.

As the title of the film suggests it is an atypically love story that takes an ironic approach to the traditional romance tale. While there are romantic sub-plots present, love is generally portrayed as just another of several competing interests for characters, and one that is hard to distinguish in a world awash with sex, religion, crime, drugs and any other number of distractions. Uchida has created a fun, entertaining film that can also be understood as a detailed examination of modern society. While it remains ambivalent about the value of the several “cults” people devote themselves too, it does offer a believable representation of society.

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