Title: The Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue (Fantasia 2017)

Also known as:
Yozora wa itsudemo saikô mitsudo no aoiro da

Year: 2017

Genre: Drama

Language: Japanese

Runtime: 108 min

Director: Yûya Ishii

Writer: Yûya Ishii, Tahi Saihate

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5931802/

With an ever growing population, it’s becoming harder and harder to find connections in the city of Tokyo. It’s even harder to find love. Mika, a young woman working two jobs to make ends meet, feels that love is meaningless for someone like her. Shinji is a half-blind construction worker who’s barely getting by but thinks love is something that’s out of reach for someone like him. When Mika and Shinji cross paths, will it be possible for the two of them to find love together?

Our thoughts:
This year’s Fantasia International Film Festival seemed to boast an impressive list of Asian films, and while I am unfamiliar with his work, Yuya Ishii’s film “The Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue” caught my attention. Not through promotional material like most of the other films I caught at Fantasia. It was because the title was more of a statement than a typical film title — it sounds silly but I’ve watched movies for simpler reasons than that.

My unfamiliarity with Yuya Ishii’s work may have been my undoing when it came to understanding, appreciating or enjoying “The Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue”. Ishii seems to primarily focus character driven films, and while I was expecting that with his newest film, I ultimately couldn't get a feel for what he was trying to accomplish with the story or characters.

“The Tokyo Night Sky…” focuses on two characters: Mika — a nurse by day and girlie bar hostess by night. Shinji — a socially awkward and half-blind construction worker who does what he can just to get by. There is a third character as well with the city of Tokyo itself but we’ll get into that little bit. With Mika and Shinji, the movie paints them both as rather eccentric but still honest people with modern problems. Directionless due to the uncertainty of the future and self-defeating or cynical about life and love. While I certainly can't speak with authority on how modern youths feel in Japan, these attitudes do seem prevalent across the boards for young adults as a whole. Especially as the movie delves into the characters and we understand that they believe in love but don’t think they are worthy of love.

Or rather, are self-defeating with the notion of finding love in Tokyo. Yuya Ishii does an incredible job of painting the city as its own character — as this living organism that’s boasting with life. Because it is so robust with life, with people trying to find their paths but struggling as they face issues as functioning adults — never enough money, never enough time and technology causing a great divide amongst individuals. With all of this, how can it be expected for two people to fall in love? How can someone be expected to find love, to find their soulmate, in a crowded city where everyone is looking out for themselves? They’re interesting questions and Yuya Ishii does a good job of reflecting them within his characters. Especially with Mika who’s cynicism in regards to love is brought on by, not only modern existence, but out of self-protection as well. If you don’t feel you’re worthy of love, actually allowing yourself to love or be loved is a great risk. It’s easier to project the distrust as cynicism and treat the issue as being meaningless and unimportant to yourself. And cynicism seems to be becoming the default setting with the way social attitudes are moving forward.

However, these concepts are where I struggle with “The Tokyo Night Sky…”. Even though I appreciate that there are realistic touches with the characters and their personalities, is the film simply about whether or not it’s possible to find love in modern life? If you boil the movie down to simplistic terms, it is all hinged on the idea of destiny. Two characters with similar traits who cross paths and are able to find love with one another. It’s not that unique of a concept when it comes to love stories since the very idea of a soulmate is a product of destiny itself — that there’s one person out there for you and it is inevitable that you will find them.

There’s not much to that idea which leaves only the characters to carry the weight of the movie, which, unfortunately, they are unable to. Mika and Shinji are good characters; they’re likable and are relatable to an extent. There’s not an investment in them or their relationship. You simply watch as these two awkwardly come to the realization that they are perfect for one another even though they are often at odds because of their personalities. Yet, there’s never any emotional involvement with their stories. You find yourself going through the motions as they go through the ups and downs of a developing relationship and wait for the conclusion of will they or won’t they.

Perhaps that’s where my real issue lies. It’s not that I cannot figure out what it is that Yuya Ishii wasn’t trying to do with his movie, but the fact that “The Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue” takes on more of a feeling of neorealism with the way it handles its story and characters. While I found the ending to be incredibly sweet, there’s no real strong emotional resonance within the films core. It is a rather dry and a bit dour in the way it handles its content but it is done with a sense of purpose as the movie wants to remain grounded. It doesn’t want to become fantastical or whimsical.

Positive things:
- Good casting choices helped in making the characters likable.
- Treating Tokyo itself as a character and the cinematography in capturing the city.
- The ending is incredibly sweet.
Negative things:
- Because of the dry nature of the film it's kind of hard to figure out its intentions.
- There are a few side character stories that ultimately go nowhere.

Gore: 0/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 2.5/5
Effects: 0/5
Comedy: 2/5

We watched this movie thanks to:
Fantasia International Film Festival 2017

Reviewed by:






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