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No Longer Heroine - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Hiroin Shikkaku

Japan 2015

Romance, Comedy

Tsutomu Hanabusa

Mirei Kiritani
Kento Yamazaki
Kentaro Sakaguchi
Miwako Wagatsuma
Ayano Fukuda
Maryjun Takahashi
Mari Hamada
Riki Takeuchi

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No Longer Heroine

No Longer Heroine - Film Screenshot 1

aka Heroine Disqualified

Story: Hatori (Mirei Kiritani) thinks that she is the heroine of a story and that from the very beginning everything has been heading for the love between her and Rita (Kento Yamazaki), who she is friends with since her childhood days and has feelings for, to finally blossom. However, suddenly the girl Adachi (Miwako Wagatsuma) turns up at their school. She is bullied by her classmates, but when Rita sticks up for her and because of that almost ends up in a fight, Adachi defends him. From that day on the two get closer and closer to each other and eventually become a couple. Hatori can't believe that Rita is taken away from her just like that and she looks for a way to win him back. That's when Hiromitsu (Kentaro Sakaguchi) enters her life and gives her tips how she could achieve that. At the same time he makes no secret about being interested in Hatori. Meanwhile, Rita proves to be incredibly passive and doesn't really want to choose between the two girls when Hatori confesses her feelings to him. Therefore, Hatori happens to spend more time with Hiromitsu. She enjoys a few happy days with him, too, but she doesn't know whether she can ever get over Rita.

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No Longer Heroine - Film Screenshot 4

Review: Sometimes it's not a bad idea to watch a movie without knowing anything about it. Because let's be honest: Had I known that "No Longer Heroine" is a teen romance based on a manga, I probably wouldn't have given the movie a chance. So, did I stumble upon a small gem this way, which normally would have eluded me? No, not this time at least, even though this certainly isn't a bad movie. Despite a few attempts of the story to make fun of the genre itself you shouldn't expect anything else but a pure romance flick here. Those who watch the movie expecting more will be disappointed. In other words, the picture is clearly aimed at an audience that is interested in this kind of movie. Naturally, this makes it hard for me to remain neutral as a critic since I certainly don't count myself among the audience this genre entry is aimed at.

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But first a few positive aspects. "No Longer Heroine" comes along with a good amount of humor. At least during the first three thirds. But the humor also runs riot at times. After all, there is a clear manga-orientation. Hatori literally freezes to a block of ice just to fall to pieces, she is riddled by arrows and actress Mirei Kiritani ("Assassination Classroom: Graduation") contorts her face in ways that will make you feel dizzy. For latter Mirei actually deserves some words of praise. Nevertheless, it's sometimes a bit too much. The fact Hatori shouts her conviction that she is the heroine of the story right into the camera and thus breaks the fourth wall will leave a nasty taste in some people's mouth.

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Still, you can't deny that the at times caricatural acting is also part of a kind of humor that runs through the whole movie and also works quite well. Moreover, standing opposite to Hatori as a counterweight is the very passive Rita, played by Kento Yamazaki, who can be seen in countless shoujo-manga adaptions these days, among others "Your Lie in April" or "Orange". And it's extremely difficult to root for him since he often hurts Hatori and is simply a weak hero. This may be the actual gist of the story and is also supposed to be the plot's appeal, but sometimes it also doesn't allow the romance to work out properly since we can't bond with him. At least, the plot develops in a love triangle and eventually square, which breeds room for some complex emotions which are carried by the actors surprisingly well.

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Kentaro Sakaguchi ("Our Little Sister") stands out in particular. Maybe the greatest bond we tie is to Hiromitsu as he is the most good-natured, mature and thoughtful individual among the protagonists. Even though he fights for what he wants, too. One certain scene during some fireworks in fact even manages to showcase the kind of complex emotions that often lead to heartache in love. This occasionally even makes you forget that this is actually a teen romance. While the movie at first comes across a bit unstructured and delivers a lot of manga-like slapstick moments, "No Longer Heroine" gets more linear from the second half onwards and even though you never get bored the movie still loses some of its high pacing and with it a bit of the viewers' interest. Reason for that being that despite initial promises to do otherwise the movie gets tangled up in a few clichés.

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But don't be afraid, you won't get a "Strobe Edge" here. Still, while Hatori at first complains that she doen't need any melodramatic rain and thus gives a nice side blow to one of romantic movies' clichés, she also runs towards her beloved, shouting his name and when they finally lie in each other's arms it even starts to rain. And this time the movie is dead serious about it. Accordingly, it's difficult to rate this picture with a neutral mindset. The audience this movie is made for will ask for exactly what we get, but next to that we also get a lot more. Therefore, I should probably shelve my aversion to such clichés, even the more since director Tsutomu Hanabusa (who before worked on movies like "Sadako 3D" among others) avoids truely awkward moments and in the end presents a romance which manages to push the right buttons and also deliver some nice humor.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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