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Strobe Edge - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Sutorobo Ejji

Japan 2015

Genre:
Romance, Drama

Director:
Ryuichi Hiroki

Cast:
Kasumi Arimura
Sota Fukushi
Yuki Yamada
Arisa Sato
Yuina Kuroshima
Jingi Irie
Rika Kazami
Yoshinari Furuya


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Strobe Edge

Strobe Edge - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Schoolgirl Ninako Kinoshita (Kasumi Arimura) is secretly in love with Ren Ichinose (Sota Fukushi) who is in her year but in another form. Ren is very popular among the girls, but he has already a girlfriend, model Mayuka (Arisa Sato). One day, Ninako confesses her love nonetheless and tells Ren that they just can be friends. School vacation ends and students are divided in different classes anew. Ninako and Ren happen to be in the same class. Since both of them are made class president they spend a lot of time together. Their classmate Takumi Ando (Yuki Yamada), who volunteered for helping the two class presidents, is in fact in love with Ninako. He tells the girl very directly that the way she deals with Ren's situation isn't good for her. She may put up a smile, but to know that she has no chance with Ren since he already has a girlfriend will emotionally break her sooner or later. Ninako knows that he is right, yet she can't help but continue staying close to Ren. It turns out that Ando knows very much about what he tries to protect Ninako from.

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Review: Oh my, what am I supposed to write that won't offend numerous female fans of cute love stories who didn't manage to put the intelltecual level of schoolday romancing plots behind them? "Strobe Edge" is pure kitsch. Not always and at all times - and that would be the only thing that at least somewhat saves the movie - but it's still that often for it to almost cause physical pain. Having watched only a single corny romantic story in tv will be sufficient to be able finding countless similarities. The lack of originality sometimes makes this film a true ordeal. Furthermore, the characters lack color and most importantly depth which particularly a story about unrequited love is in strong need of, if you don't want to produce some kind of trash which even giggling schoolgirls will consider being lowbrow. But maybe I underestimate the power of girls' yearning for a heartwarming love story.

Strobe Edge - Film Screenshot 5

To my very suprise "Strobe Edge" seems to be received pretty well by other viewers, after all. However, looking at the barely reflective writing of some reviewers it's safe to say that fan girls have pushed the film's rating up. Yet, when even in those reviews you read that some scenes ended up being too corny then maybe you get an idea what an imposition this Japanese teenie romance is for a more demanding audience. Besides numerous love confessions, which are presented in an extremely hackneyed manner, there are also a few almost awkward moments that demand so much seriousness by the actors and actresses that it will make you speechless. The dialogue featured by the screenplay sometimes seems to be the product of a 13-year old girl.

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Who is in love with whom is written in such a contrived manner that it will just make you laugh. Ok, "Strobe Edge" is based on a manga series by Io Sakisaka which clearly is aimed at a young female audience. But this doesn't have to go hand in hand with utter lowbrow entertainment! Nevertheless, it needs to be stated that I don't know the manga and accordingly won't be able to judge about it nor draw comparisons between movie and source material. Yet, it is obvious that some of the relationships portrayed in the movie and their development have been compressed by a great deal due to the tighter frame the movie medium provides. When Ren and Mayuka split up it becomes clear love between the two has cooled down somewhere along the way and that the two aren't a part of the other one's life anymore. Sadly, this story should have been elaborated a lot more. This is even more true when it comes to Mao, for which you can barely develop any interest, although she makes the story a bit more complex.

Strobe Edge - Film Screenshot 7

Still, most of the time you won't see any sort of complexity. On the contrary, you will be almost shocked how much time director Ryuichi Hiroki uses for drawing the absolutely banal development of the love story in all its small details. We are always waiting for some sort of funny twist on the clichés shown, but far from it! Actingwise neither Kasumi Arimura ("Flying Colors") nor Sota Fukushi ("As the Gods Will") manage to convince because of that, simply since their personalities remain too shallow. And this even though they managed to prove their acting chops in other movies. The half-baked nature of the characters is also irritating since there are also some serious emotions hidden within the ridiculous looking love triangles, emotions which aren't that easily unravelled. Ando, played by Yuki Yamada, is thus the only individual who eventually brings some more depth into the movie and the feelings depicted.

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However, when the romantic story becomes a bit more demanding it also becomes inscrutable and convoluted to such a degree that nothing makes any sense anymore, making the protagonists' actions everything but comprehensible. Especially towards the end you ask yourself what the hell suddenly created such a contrived drama for the obvious need of a suspense arc alone. And what for? So that we see someone run after her beloved while a collage of mutual memories is dug out of the flashback box, only to lead to a tear-filled love confession which is completely unnecessary since this confession is already old news since the movie's first minutes! The nice, constantly bright pictures, a nice tracking shot through the school building at the beginning and a feel good soundtrack may seduce you wanting to like "Strobe Edge", but when taking an objective look at this romantic flick you will find that this is an excessively corny film that at best will appeal to pubescent girls.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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