Close Range Love
Original title: 近キョリ恋愛
Genre: Romantic Drama, Slice of Life
Director: Kumazawa Naoto
Meet Yuni (Komatsu Nana), an all-star student known in her class for her high marks and emotionless personality, like that of a tree. The only class she can’t wrap her mind around is English, so here to save the day is super hot Mr. Sakurai (Yamashita Tomohisa), who from now we will refer to as Yamapi Sensei.
He notices her struggling and organizes one-on-one tutoring sessions after school. This grabs the attention of Yamapi Sensei’s fan club of students, all of whose jealousy causes Yuni to get bullied. After Yamapi Sensei swoops in to save her from being tormented, Yuni, the emotionless shell starts to crack and she realizes she is in love with him.
Just like many shojo manga adaptations that have come before Close Range Love, the film falls victim to a number of struggles that make the genre very formulaic. First of all, the film tries to cram ten volumes of manga into a two hour movie. What results is the appearance of many underdeveloped and throwaway characters.
One such character is Matoba-kun (Kotaki Nozomu), whose role as a potential rival to Yamapi Sensei is thwarted by having less than ten minutes of screen time. Then there is Miss Takizawa (Mizukawa Asami), whose role was supposed to not only serve as a method to give more information about Yamapi Sensei, but also to be a disruptor to the taboo relationship (and also, rival to Yuni). However, she gets as much screen time as Matoba-kun.
But hey, you’re thinking, at least the two leads are hot.
And that would have solved a lot of problems if their characters were likable to begin with. Yuni is a high-achiever with the personality of a table, and she expresses herself with a monotone voice and sociopathic tendencies. She also confronts every obstacle thrown at her by running away in the opposite direction. Then there is Yamapi Sensei, who is a tsundere by definition. That means he puts up a hard front, but underneath that resting bitch face is a tender and delicate soul.
Their relationship had decent development. They start off disgusted with the other, and eventually become fond and cordial. But, their relationship suddenly takes an extreme and hasty turn with Yamapi Sensei proposing to marry Yuni after she graduates. After all, after declining all the desperate and adoring fan girl students, Yamapi Sensei falls for the student with less personality than a wall. What did it take to sway the heart of the tsundere teacher? A written confession.
So, high school girls who are in love with your prick of a teacher, if you surprise your teacher with an “I love you” written on paper, you can convince them to propose marriage to you. Plus points if your personality is as blank as Yuni’s.
Close Range Love does well with what it intends to do. That is, warm the hearts of love-seeking youths with a sugary story of a handsome prince sweeping an unsuspecting heroine off her feet. Though the film tries to distance itself from the cliches of the shojo romance genre by putting its characters into a taboo situation, everything else falls victim to the tropes girls just eat up again and again.
But after all that is said and done, I’m sure about any girl would get dreamy eyed when being taught by Yamapi Sensei. Any maybe guys, too.
Watch this film…
…if you have a fantasy of being disciplined by Yamapi Sensei.