"The image of him in an open field strumming his guitar was fixed in my mind like a picture in a frame that was screwed to the wall and wouldn't come off." - Uzuki Nireno
April Story is a pensive drama that is written, edited and directed by Shunji Iwai. The movie only runs for 64 minutes, which is too short for a featured film but achieves a deeply charming movie. Watching April Story is like watching kittens drowsing; it's intoxicating charm and simple premise is shouting kawaii (japanese for cute) all through out the film. It's one of the movies I picked whenever I'm in a bad mood.
April as a title connotes the blossoming of cherries in the Tokyo area (as seen in the first part when the protagonist reached Tokyo), the starts of the school year and rebirth. It was the perfect setting and theme for the movie.
Uzuki Nireno, our protagonist is eager, good-natured and a very shy girl. She likes playing record and as she describes is cheerful by nature. She's from the country side of Hokkaido and decides to study in a Musashino University in Tokyo. Too timid to deal with flirting boys, she's trying hard to fit it with everyone in the class. Wearing a sweater and awkwardly introduced to class and was unable to answer why she chooses Musashino University, Nireno embarrassed herself mostly by dealing with new things in school. She can't fit everything she wants in her small apartment, her neighbor won't talk to her with open doors, and she even had encounters with shady pervert.
The whole film revolves around Nireno, her inarticulateness, her timid approach to things and being an inexperienced girl in the big city. Everything about her is framed in the entire movie that Nireno became a symbol of charm and innocence.
The film moves slowly and in steady pace, helping the viewers to immerse him/herself into the life of Nireno. We can feel her isolation, her loneliness and also her eagerness and strength. The whole foundation of this charming film is something romantic. It presents the question of why the timid Nireno chose to moved in the university in Tokyo. The answer by the end of the film is like a fairy tale come true or perhaps a miracle for the shy girl Nireno.
April Story is a beautiful movie with great scenery and a cheerful story. The story and the characters feels authentic that guarantees a smile when the screen goes black and the end piano theme starts to play.