I’m on a bit of an Aoi Yu trip at the moment, what with Dr Koto’s Clinic, Osen and now this film, One Million Yen Girl and the Nigamushi Woman. In this, Yu plays a woman who gets a criminal record after she’d removed all of her flatmates possessions in revenge for him throwing a cat out of the flat, which then died.
Rather than put up with all the local gossip about her, she decides to travel from town to town, looking for work so she can save one million yen to get her own place. So the film is episodic in that each of the three jobs she does has its own little story. During her travels she writes cheerful letters to her younger brother, unaware that he’s being bullied at school.
While the central theme is at first appealing – no ties, free to wander, the horizon is your next destination etc, by the end the film is clear which of the two lives it considers more worthy: the brother’s inability to leave his problems behind lead to him facing them square on. When Aoi Yu’s character receives a letter from her brother and learns about the troubles he’s had, she decides to return to her family.
It’s a low-key drama or, if you prefer, an even more low-key comedy. It’s similar to Camouflage (and the TV channel WOWOW had a hand in producing both) and in fact, Aoi Yu’s character in this film makes an appearance the TV show too. I really enjoyed it - the episodic nature meant that no story outstayed its welcome, and the ambiguous ending (was her last line meant for her ex or for the audience?) left me pondering for some time.