Love, Life and Goldfish
After an outburst at work, hotshot Tokyo banker Makoto (Matsuya Onoe) is demoted to an office in a small village in the middle of nowhere. He’s determined to keep his emotions bottled up inside, and even more determined to go back to Tokyo, but when he first sets eyes on Yoshino (Kanako Momota of J-Pop group Momoiro Clover Z fame), the owner of the local goldfish-scooping store, it’s love at first sight. Though prudent and socially awkward at first, Makoto slowly learns to open himself up over the coming days.
Based on Noriko Ottani’s manga series Sukutte Goran, Yukinori Makabe’s Love, Life and Goldfish is a colourful, almost dreamlike romantic comedy with a J-pop flare. Its oddball personality may distinguish it from other contemporary romcoms, but underneath its presentation this flick is just as mundane and by-the-numbers as every other run-of-the-mill romance out there.
Whereas romcoms typically get their charm for their flawed but likeable leads, there’s not much to like about Makoto as a character. There are virtually no appealing qualities to him, and his arc happens so suddenly towards the end (in a matter of seconds) that there’s no lesson to be learned. Yoshino is the opposite: she’s presented as the ideal woman, though her only traits are being exceedingly nice, owning a shop and being shy about playing the piano. Combined, these leads have no chemistry and are simply not fun to watch.
The humour is likewise clumsy and awkward – and rarely in a good way. While the cast throw all their energy into their performances, the comedy just isn’t there. The musical numbers themselves are also a mixed bag (though calling them songs would be misleading, given how short many of them are). Most tracks come and go without much incident, and others (like Onoe rapping about numbers) are just weird. It’s only when Momota and Nicole Ishida (who plays lovesick bar owner Asuka) collaborate that the music clicks in true and lovably cheesy J-pop style.
Love, Life and Goldfish may have big-name leads and a handful of good songs, but it’s missing that much needed spark to make it wok as intended.
Love, Life and Goldfish does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
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Watch the trailer for Love, Life and Goldfish here: