Set in the same Chichibu city as Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. its story follows two Aioi sisters, Akane and Aoi, who have lived together since their parents' passing 13 years ago. One day, older sister Akane's ex-boyfriend Shinnosuke Kanemuro, who is 31 now, visits the city to perform at a festival. At the same time, 18-year-old Shinnosuke, called Shinno, also time-travels from 13 years ago. While Aoi starts falling love with the 18-year-old Shinno, Akane and the 31-year-old Shinnosuke finally reunite...
A tale of experiencing first love for the second time, and that of losing sight of what you once dreamt of.
Firstly, the synopsis is not that accurate. This is not a story of time travel, nor did Aoi only start to fall in love upon meeting the Shinno from 13 years ago.
The movie starts with Aoi plugging in her earphones to practice her bass, drowning out all sounds. I feel that that is a nice touch. We are then gradually introduced to the other characters and how Aoi feels about them. There was also a flashback of her past which explains why the two
sisters are living together, when Shinno suddenly appears.
There were some twists that I've never expected. At first, I thought only Aoi could see Shinno, but it turned out that everyone could see him too. They called him an Ikiryou (a spirit that is left behind when the living passes on) at the start, and I thought that that was the case too, when Aoi ran home to Akane and asked her for more details about Shinno - to which her reply was "I don't know whether he is even living or dead", which cemented my belief until minutes later when Shinnosuke appeared on the Enka stage as a guitarist.
What happens when you meet face-to-face with your past self? That was the other big twist that I did not expect. Watch it to find out!
The story built up emotions leading to that scene from the ominous cave to the landslide to the sealed guitar and to the meeting, and the tension - emotions at an all-time high was kept at that plateau for the rest of the movie. It was truly a work of art.
My first thought was that the older Nakamura looked like Poppo from AnoHana, but it turned out that they were different persons. Each scene, though ordinary somehow managed to look special while being not overtly imposing. I liked how the director transitioned from showing a dull welcoming scene to the appearance of a very flashy Nitobe, and how the camera slowly pans to the right to reveal the older Shinnosuke. That said though, while the art was great, it was not particularly outstanding hence the score.
As I have mentioned in the introduction, the touch when earphones are plugged in and when Aoi tries to convey her feelings for the older Shinnosuke was absolutely stunning. Aoi fondly reminds me of K-On! when she plays the bass. I feel that her VA has done a good job in conveying her feelings for Shinno, like how her voice trembled when she spoke to him or that outburst when she found out what Chika has done.
Given the number of characters, it can't be helped. Although every character has some development, I feel that they could have given more depth to each of them, particularly the older Shinnosuke and exactly how did he come around. Also, the boy-crazy Chika could have been given more exposition - we never knew if she was telling the truth or not when she claimed that 'nothing happened', because we only have an idea of what's her personality like.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie enough to write such a long review about it. Even after watching the epilogue however, I am left with more questions that I had at the start and I think that this movie would have a better reception had it launched as an anime series instead.