Paradise Kiss, one of Ai Yazawa’s most known and loved mangas, was brought to the big screen last 2011. Being a fan of this particular title, I have been curious for a long time how the movie would fare, since the manga was gorgeous in style and in story. Much to my disappointment, I wasn’t impressed after watching the movie adaptation. Thankfully, it wasn’t horrible, but could’nt live up to the manga’s awesomeness in my honest opinion. Maybe the shoes were too big to fill, that’s why the story unfolded the way it did, or maybe I didn’t like it because the movie went in a different direction than the bittersweet original? What I’m certain of is that it definitely could have been way, way better.
The first flaw that I noted was that the characters weren’t able to develop, and that the events were rushed.
I think that the actress for Yukari was just alright. At certain angles she looked like Chiaki Kuriyama, which made me think that maybe she could’ve been a better candidate for Yukari. They should’ve cast someone else, or she should’ve been directed differently. This is because Yukari is supposed to be indecisive and confused at first, but after meeting and befriending the group of Paradise Kiss, she was shown to be headstrong, innocent but fierce. Keiko Kitagawa’s Yukari wasn’t able to show any of these, the movie only showed that she was careless, clumsy and insecure. Sure, she’s really pretty, but that’s the only thing that matched with the character’s description. She wasn’t able to make me believe that she was really Yukar. The way her character was played out, made her an incomplete and sad person from my point of view, wherein the Yukari in the manga and anime was confident and happy in the end, having lived her life to the fullest.
Osamu Mukai as the eccentric playboy George was adequate enough. He looked the part, but was too serious for my taste. Being the most complex and perplexing person out of all the characters in the story, the actor had a huge responsibility to deliver that to the audience and capture everyone’s attention as the charismatic and devious George. He tried to show his character’s flirty side, but it just seemed unnatural and boring.
Yusuke Yamamoto who played as Hiro was too wimpy, and didn’t look the part. I wish they could’ve cast someone else as Arashi too because he didn’t look like an attractive, scary bad boy. Out of all the characters, only Miwako and Isabella were the ones who were totally in character and were closest to the orginal.
The second flaw, which was ultimately what made this movie a flop for me and deserving of only the 4 stars that I gave, was the way the story was played out. Instead of being the touching and unforgettable story that made fans worldwide fall in love with it, they made the movie feel like a typical romantic comedy. Completely doing away with the twists and complications, which made the characters endearing, the end result was a half-baked cake, that at first appears to satiate your craving, but once you put it in your mouth, you end up wanting something else completely different.
*SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen it, and you’re planning to, skip to the end of my review*
By the end, I realized why it was the way it was. Instead of following the ending of the manga, which was the most tearful part, it changed the decision of the main character, Yukari, so that it could be the happy ending that fans wanted but didn’t get. In the film version, they meet and finally get together, and it is implied by Yukari that this is only the beginning for them. And that is why this adaption isn’t striking and easily forgettable. It falls into the ‘she gets the guy in the end’ category, which by default makes the ending ‘and they lived happily ever after.’ The story has become easy, and that makes it dismissible.
It’s hard not to compare, but the things that made me love Paradise Kiss were nonexistent in the movie, and the part that burned it into my heart forever was the original ending, which for me was what made the story memorable, and aroused heart-wrenching emotions from people. I personally loved the story of the manga more because Yukari and George didn’t end up together. Sure, she did end up with her first love, Hiroyuki, but that was after her passionate and consuming relationship with George had ended.
The movie could have been a lot better if they had followed some of the best parts of the manga. I believe that they should’ve done the movie in two parts so that at least the characters and their relationships would have been able to grow.