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Monday, June 1, 2015

Maki Horikita: "My Little Sweet Pea" movie review and screenshots

 Release Date: December 21, 2013   Length: 95 minutes   Director: Keisuke Yoshida

Main Cast:

Maki Horikita as Mugiko Koiwa
Ryuhei Matsuda as Norio Koiwa
Kimiko Yo as Ayako Koiwa
Yoichi Nukumizu as Manabu Inomoto
Yumi Asou as Michiru
Eri Fuse as Natsue Aso
Amane Okayama as Senzo Aso

 Mentioned in the post about the film's premiere that I've had this for a while just kept putting off viewing it until two days ago. Far from a classic but it turned out to better than I thought it would be and think it'll get a few more watches. Will as usual try to make the review a bit short but also as usual will probably fail at that but this was kind of a simple movie which may make it possible.

 The movie opens up with Mugiko(Maki), I'll call her Mugi, traveling to her mother's old hometown to bury her ashes as she's just recently died. That was just a brief scene as the film quickly reverts back about a month prior shortly before her mother reappears in Mugi and her brother Norio's lives. Mugi and her brother are living in a small Tokyo apartment, from what we can gather he's paying most of the bills and he appears to be struggling with that as he only works as an assistant manager in a pachinko parlor.
 Mugi also works but jsut part time in a manga store, Norio really wishes she would start working more to pay her fair share yet it's going to come out soon that even he isn't exactly paying his faur share. And that little bit of info is revealed when one day out of nowhere their mother reappears into their lives, not sure how long it's been since they've seen her but it appears as though it's been a while.

 That reappearance happens at the manga store Mugi works at, though she wants nothing to do with her mother she reluctantly brings her home so she can see her brother. Norio also wants nothing to do with the mother but the mother Ayako has fallen upon hard times and though she is working she isn't making as much income due to some health issues which her kids never learn about until it's too late.
 It's revealed during that 'reunion' that Sayako has been giving Norio 150,000 yen a month, their rent is only 90,000 so actually he hasn't been paying anything to support him and his sister. Needless to say Mugi is a bit angry and confused about that as she's been trying to save her money up but becomes even more angry when her mother pleads with them to live in their apartment as she has no where else to go.

 Mugi has been saving her money as she wants to go to school to learn to become a voice actress for animes, didn't realize you needed to go to school for that. Well the tuition is going to be close to 700,000 yen and she's not even close to having that amount and at her rate of saving money she may never have enough.
 The three of them living together doesn't work out well at all, it's worked out so bad that shortly after the mother moved in Niroi has moved out and is living with his girlfriend though he does still give money for expenses to Mugi. Now that it's just Mugi and her mother living in the apartment things still aren't working out, Mugi just has never liked her mother and though she does try at times to get close to her it just never worked out.
 During their brief time living together Ayako has some health issues which she tells Mugi not to worry about, however those issues are quite serious. As a matter of fact they're very serious as after about a week or so of them living together Ayako has passed away, the reason being she was suffering from liver cancer. No doubt that's what made Ayako reconnect with her two children as she realized that she didn't have much time to live and wanted to try to patch things up with her children which didn't happen or at least not until after she died.

 After the funeral Mugji brings the ashes of her mother back to her old hometown for burial, it's never mentioned what city it was but the filming took place in Tsuru city. At one time when she was younger Ayako had the nickname of Saiko as she really wanted to be an Idol singer and she was quite popular in her little town. When Saiko was 18 she left for Tokyo to pursue her dream but like countless others before and after her dream didn't come close to being fulfilled.
 When Saiko was in her teens she was the splitting image of Mugi though she didn't look that way at all in her older years. When Mugi travels to the town with her mother's ashes everyone there thinks Saiko has returned and everyone who knew her back many years ago came out of the woodwork to meet Mugi.
 That's how Mugi started to learn much more about her mother, her and her brother really never knew their mother as she had left home when they were somewhat young. Mugi had no idea that her mother wanted to become an Idol and upon learning more and more about what kind of person her mother was she started to slowly lose that hatred she had built up for her over the years.

 Will try to wrap this up somewhat quickly, once again a review has gone on longer then what was planned, won't be the last time I'm sure. There were a couple of complications about burying her mother's ashes so Mugi needed to stay on for much longer then she wanted to but doing that helped her learn so much about her mother and also more about herself. Mugi did grow close to one person in town named Michiru and she stayed with her until her mother could be buried.
 Michiru was a bit like Mugi's mother as she also had two children who she didn't see. Mugi was aghast at that and in a drunken state told Michiru how bad of a person she was for doing that, the end result was Mugi now had no where to stay. However right at the end of the film the two of them make up and after a delay of about a week Mugi's mother finally gets buried. And it looks like at the end that Mugi's dream of becoming a voice actress may come true as her brother Norio discovered that their mother had left them some money, not a huge amount but enough for Mugi to pursue her dream.

 May have written it that way but the ending really wasn't overly sappy, too many films take that route but to this movie's credit it didn't. Granted it wasn't exactly as exciting review but think that almost all the major points were covered yet without revealing too much in case you're planning on viewing it. Have now seen eleven Maki movies and would put this about #7 on the list, not that it was bad but she's been in a couple of really good films and there's still a few more I'd like to see that she's in. Would give this a grade of an 8/10, not must watch but an interesting one and a movie that turned out better than I expected. Have a few more screenshots here plus there's another post after this of even more of Maki from the film as she looked so, so good yet in an unglamorous way, all fans of her would know what I mean. Yesterday's post about the premiere had the movie's trailer but here's another one after these pics that has English subs.

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