Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 4th, 2015
BluRay released: April 14th, 2014
Approximate running time: 160 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen /1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: PG (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Japanese
BluRay Release: Third Window Films
Region Coding: Region B (UK)
Retail Price: £13.99
Synopsis: From the moment we are introduced to this film’s protagonist Yonosuke it is impossible not to get caught up in his joy for life. His story (at least in regards to this film) begins with him at the age of eighteen moving to Tokyo to attend college. And it the friends that he meets while attending college which shape the rest of this tale. With one character an eccentric young woman named Shoko who quickly falls in love with Yonosuke.
The film’s narrative is not told in a linear way as its switches without warning between the past and present. For some first time viewers they may find themselves wondering if they missed something since the first time around these shifts in time period do have a jarring effect. And it would be recommended that this film be watched at least twice to fully appreciate this film’s most unconventional narrative structure.
Being that this is a character driven film it should not come as a surprise that this film is filled with well-defined characters. And these are not lust some back ground characters that just happened to pass through the protagonist life. Also by creating such richly detailed characters it makes the viewer feel as they are there reminiscing about an old friend and not simply watching a movie filled with recollections about a stranger. This level of intimacy further adds to the potency of this film’s moment of truth regarding its protagonist. Ultimately making his fate all the more bittersweet.
Without a doubt this film’s greatest asset is Kengo Kôra (Fish Story, The Woodsman and the Rain) in the role of Yonosuke. He gives an utterly convincing performance that find a perfect balance between comedy and tragedy. Another performance of note is Yuriko Yoshitaka (Noriko’s Dinner Table, Himizu) in the role of Shoko. She is does an exceptional job conveying her characters shyness and her other eccentricities. Also it is the moments that these two actors share are this film’s most compelling moments. Instead of falling into familiar cinematic trappings, there is an authenticity to the way that their relationship evolves.
There is a lot of ground covered in this lengthy film which has many peaks and valleys. And though the majority of the moments which are recalled from the protagonist life are happy ones. The film does find some counter balance as there are a few poignant moments that show the other side of their time spent with the protagonist. Also humor plays an integral part in the story at hand. With that being said, for everything that this film does right, there is at least one area where it leaves too much of a void and that is a final act which leaves to much unresolved.
The Story of Yonosuke comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Though details generally look crisp, during some of the darker scenes they are lacking the same clarity that is present for the bulk of the film. Colors and flesh tones look accurate. Grain looks natural, DNR is kept in check and there are some mild issues with compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD 5.1 Japanese and removable English subtitles have been provided with this release. Dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Also this is a dialog driven film so it should not come as a surprise that the majority of the action is front and center. With that being said, the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented.
Extras for this release are limited to a trailer for the film (1 minute 56 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles). Overall The Story of Yonosuke gets a strong audio / video presentation from Third Window Films.
Note: This film is also being released by Third Window Films on DVD.