Thursday, 10 May 2018

Honnouji Hotel (2017)

I was quite moved to find the subtitled version of this movie, so I proceed with its review!
Aaah, it's been a while since I last watched a Nobu-movie..!
Honnouji Hotel is a movie released last year which main focus was pimping Kyoto's tourism.
To do that they intertwined the choices in life of a dull girl with no dreams, Mayuko Kuramoto (Haruka Hayase), with one of the most important turning point of Japanese history, the Honnouji Incident.

The movie is directed by Masayuki Suzuki on an original screenplay by Tomoko Aizawa. Both worked previously on Princess Toyotomi (2011), the story of a historical/political intrigue involving Osaka city.

Honnouji Hotel is a comedy without praise or blame punctuated by bits of emotional reflections. The usage of the time-slip is a bit pretextious and some visual choices were ridiculous (whenever Mayuko ate a konpeito some terrible animation would show the candy "exploding" under her teeth-- as some sort of b-rated commercial!), but the movie was enjoyable and quite fun in many parts, given that you're ok with the typical contrived Japanese acting... Yet, since it's a commedy, it's quite appropriate.

The theme of the movie is to learn to enjoy the little things in life, expecially when they are things that you truly want.

But how to throw Nobunaga into it all..?

Nobunaga is played by Shin'ichi Tsutsumi. At first I wasn't extremely taken by his acting, but there are some parts where this actor who formed on a stage really shine.
His Nobunaga is carismatic but introvert, a man with a dream who never lost his true purpose in life, despite going astray on the way.

The meeting with Mayuko would open his eyes too: when did he turn into a demon and forget about his beloved people? Nobunaga makes amend with his life, for the sake of the samurai way and because he realized that his era was over. There would be definitely a time where people would wear a smile on their faces, but maybe he wasn't the one who had to witness that.
The scene where he compiled the letter that alerted Hideyoshi about his death so for him to intervene and unify the country, was his attempt to pacify with the humanity that he lost on the way.
On this note, the scene that showed us the coherence of Nobunaga to his dream through the years is quite endearing and touching, expecially when punctuated by a butterfly that first rested on his cup and then decided to leave him.

The butterfly will then reappear on the last scene, where both Mayuko and Nobunaga would appear in peace with themselves.

Basides Mayuko and Nobunaga, the other main character is Ranmaru, here played by an unexpected Gaku Hamada:
He's the last actor you would expect as Ranmaru, which amplifies the hilarity of the show.
This Ranmaru is unhappy about his lord, and he voiced his discontent with Mayuko first, but in the end he realizes that Nobunaga is his one and only lord and he would follow him even in death.

That is, if something really bothered me about the characters evolution is how Mayuko at first resented Nobunaga, then she changed her mind and started to care for his business...
Apparently she changed her mind just because she realized that that terrible guy in front of her was Nobunaga, the famous warlord from Sengoku Era..!

The movie features also some quite awesome Mitsuhide, played by Masahiro Takashima:
I say "awesome" because, despite the tiny screentime, I really enjoyed this version of a pissed-off Mitsuhide quite keen on "smoking and beheading" his lord; it's a nice change after hours and hours of dramas where Mitsuhide is the serious, pavid, introverted type...

Of course, the movie is filled with hints and details about Kyoto's hot spots.
One of this, is the konpeito shop Ryokujuan Shimizu, which products cover a huge role in the story:

I think it was some actual sponsor, because some parts really look like a huge commercial and they were terrible, ahah!

Other spots were "disguised" in the movie.
It's the case of the Zuishin-in (随心院), which entrance is used to portray Honnouji's:
Since we're talking about a destroyed temple that is no longer, many locations were used to reproduce the look and feel of the original place. Here you can find an interesting guide with all the details!

Also, the Yoshioka restaurant owned by the father of Mayuko's fiancee, Kyoichi, is actually Shōsei-en garden (渉成園), again in the precints of a temple, Higashi Honganji:
That was such a dreamy location I assumed it was worth mentioning!

I can't end this post without my fetish, the nobori of Nobunaga... They are the wrong ones!
Anyway, not that the historical accuracy of the movie is top-notch in the first place... Consider that the "key" for time-slipping is a music box of the Sengoku era presented by the missionaries to Nobunaga--
--Unfortunately music boxes were first invented in the XVIII century!

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