Midnight Sun Review
Director: Koizumi Norihiro
Starring YUI, Takashi Tsukamoto, Kuniko Asagi, Goro Kishitani, Airi Toyama
Suffering from XP, a neurological and skin condition that makes her body unable to metabolize UV light, Amane Kaoru (YUI) spends her days sleeping only to venture out at night to practice her music as a street performer. In the waning minutes before the sunrise every day, she catches a short glimpse of Koji (Tsukamoto) at a nearby bus stop and soon develops a crush on the aspiring surfer. Meeting at night the two begin a romance, supportive of each others’ pursuits. However, as Kaoru’s condition begins to worsen can the two say everything they want to say before it’s too late?
Released over 10 years ago at this point (has it really been that long?), Midnight Sun is a movie that has recently been released in an English friendly Blu-ray in Korea. Having previously owned a Region 2 Japanese released DVD, I was quite welcome to discover the film would finally be having an HD release. Revisiting the film was long in coming and I was surprised at how much I remembered besides the excellent music courtesy of singer/songwriter YUI herself.
Director Koizumi crafts a tender and lovely tale about young love wrapped in a beautifully scored and musically oriented package. Set in the beautiful seaside town of Kamakura, the locale of the previously reviewed Umimachi Diary as well, Koizumi’s lens is similar to a love letter to the town as it showcases the harbor, beaches, shopping arcades, and the spectacular sunrises and sunsets that serve extra importance in this film. YUI is enormously endearing and sweet; she’s adorable and a supremely talented musician which makes it easy to see why she was so popular. Indeed, after my initial viewing years ago, I have picked up multiple CDs and concerts in support of the musician. The supporting cast is fairly good with Kishitani, as Kaoru’s father, delivering some tender moments as the over-protective father coming to grips with his daughter’s mortality. Tsukamoto infuses a goofy nature into his role of Koji; he’s likable, dorky, and warm-hearted. Airi Toyama is also fairly memorable as Kaoru’s sole friend Misaki.
Of course, the main draw here is the music with YUI performing many of her hits such as “Skyline” and “It’s Happy Line” as well as the what has become one of the most iconic Japanese film theme songs ever, her exceptionally moving “Goodbye Days.” In all, it’s a tender and moving film with pretty chaste romance at its core, but it still has the power to tug at the heartstrings. If my praise hasn’t already convinced you, suffice to say that I love this film and it comes highly recommended.