Original Title: タイヨウのうた
Genres: Romantic Drama, Musical
Director: Koizumi Norihiro
Amane Kaoru (YUI) is a shy 16-year old girl who sings and plays the guitar. However, she is prevented from living a normal life as she suffers from the disease xeroderma pigmentosum (XP), which makes exposure to ultraviolet light potentially fatal. Every night, Kaoru takes her guitar to the city and busks in front of the train station, with usually only her best friend listening. She makes sure to return home before sunset.
Kaoru has a crush on Koji (Tsukamoto Takashi). However, she has never spoken to him. Rather, she watches him through her window, as he is at the nearby bus stop every morning, meeting with his friends before going surfing.
One night, Kaoru has a chance meeting with Koji, as he passes by her normal busking spot. Without thinking, she runs and catches up to him, awkwardly confessing her feelings. Thus begins a unique relationship, stress-inducing to both the couple and the audience.
The biggest eye-catcher of this film is rock star YUI, whose music career has a huge following all over the world. Obviously, YUI isn’t an actress; she’s in the film for star power.
However, her role as Amane Kaoru works for her for two reasons. The first is that Kaoru is shy, innocent, curious, and above all socially awkward from the lack of interaction with people. The second is that Kaoru resembles YUI in many ways, specifically in the sense that YUI herself started off as a busker, singing into the night on the streets of Fukuoka. Her portrayal of the innocent Kaoru is genuine as it is adorable. It’s very hard to not be a fan of the singer-songwriter and her music after watching Midnight Sun.
Tsukamoto’s character, an idiot with his heart in the right place, balanced YUI’s performance quite well. His obliviousness to her disease led much of the film’s drama and tension. However, YUI didn’t let his idiotic charm steal any of the spotlight away. This film still is about her.
The story can be slow for many moviegoers. However, if it were otherwise, the film would lose a lot of its charm. It is, after all, a story of an innocent girl coping with shy love, while trying to make the most of the cards life has dealt her.
It definitely gets to a point where it feels like a TV drama, where everything is set up for potential heartbreak. Kaoru’s disease is a central element of the story after all. The time will happen when the cute relationship between Koji and Kaoru become interrupted when the disease makes its presence felt.
By the way, they totally did make a TV drama inspired by the film, starring Sawajiri Erika in YUI’s role.
Viewers will smile, or shed a tear, or both. Don’t be ashamed when you have to reach for that box of tissues; even the manliest of us have had to use it. It’s hard to watch a story that involves a disease without getting your eyes wet.
This was YUI’s only starring role in a film. It’s unlikely that she will star in another, as she doesn’t seem to be the type of actress with a wide range of ability. It felt as though the character of Amane Kaoru was conceptualized around her. In other words, Midnight Sun was a huge promotion for YUI and her music (not that fans will complain about that). In the end, the strongest point of the film was indeed that: YUI and her music.
Watch this film…
…if you are a fan of YUI and her music.