Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of 雅 -miyavi-. This led me to suddenly realize that I haven’t seen Oresama, which I found kind of strange until I went hunting for the movie. Subbed versions of this movie are, apparently, near impossible to find. There is no official subbed DVD version either, so I couldn’t even go and buy the damn thing. Subs on both YouTube and Veoh, in addition to be of poor quality, are all incomplete. (I found an amateur subbed version where seriously, half the subs read “I have no idea what he’s saying here.”) I could find subs in French and freakin’ Malaysian though. Poor miyavi. He’s apparently not popular enough around here to get a finished sub. What gets me the most is the fact that this film’s only about an hour long. Come on. How hard could it be?
After about an hour of rampaging around the Internet and finding nothing, I decided to watch it raw. A weeaboo’s knowledge of the language gained from a decade or two of watching anime, however advanced, doesn’t get one very far, sadly. I could pick out greetings, some numbers, some exclamations, some questions and answers, but little more than that. Nevertheless…
STORY & PACING – Oresama is kind of a strange story. It’s a semi-autobiography in which miyavi plays himself as he magically travels back in time to inspire some kids to play rock and punk and to meet himself as a kid, when he was an aspiring soccer player. It was kind of difficult for me to pinpoint without understanding everything that was being said, but it seemed like the purpose of the journey was to bring miyavi back down to earth a little. That idea would fit with the title of the movie, as “oresama” is the most arrogant Japanese first-person pronoun. (Black Star from SOUL EATER always refers to himself as “oresama.”)
Honestly, I wasn’t impressed with the storytelling at all. The time travel bit was conveniently glossed over with no explanation — I suppose it’s an unimportant detail considering the short, one hour runtime, but it still bugged me. I would have liked it better if it had been a dream; the same issues could have been addressed, and we wouldn’t have had to deal with horrible, corny, flashy-light effects. There were also some really cheap situations that were just far too convenient, such as the speed at which he gained the trust of his sudden roommate. Those things aside, the scenes often felt choppy and uncoordinated. It was difficult to tell how much time had passed between scene to scene even when miyavi promised to be in certain places “tomorrow” — night and day did not seem to follow one after the other. It was kind of like slice of life. Except. Not.
Like I said, the central theme and point of the movie was difficult for me to pick out because I didn’t understand a majority of the things being said, but I also think some of the lack of clarity came from the vagueness of the visual storytelling. It was hard to decipher miyavi’s emotions in many of the scenes involving other characters, particularly with his sudden roommate and the band. I got that he was inspiring them, but that said more about the other characters than miyavi himself, which kind of leads to the next point.
CHARACTER & ACTING – Considering the name of the movie, the only character really worth talking about is, of course, miyavi. As he plays himself, I find it hard to judge his merits as an actor, especially since he has such an energetic and spastic public personality already. Still, the miyavi in Oresama shows a lot more of the man’s “serious” and introspective side. The beginning of the movie depicts him as arrogant: he is comfortable in his fame, sticks his feet up on tables, and makes fun of other people’s fashion. Suddenly in the past, as he quickly realizes that his fame is nil and his personal fashion questionable, he humbles himself a little. This is particularly evident when his roommate’s conservative-seeming girl/friend comes to visit, and miyavi is incredibly awkward. Regardless of that though, his passion for music remains, and he is not afraid to show that, to demonstrate his brand of punk and rock.
It’s a shift, sure, but I felt it was too easy, too reasonable and too simple. There seemed to be little internal struggle, and miyavi adapted very quickly to his new environment, so quickly that the entire idea of the movie didn’t feel all that poignant anymore. Then we have the young version of miyavi, also known as Ryu. Ryu appears to be a pretty typical Japanese kid with his short shorts, bowl haircut, and pinky-swear promises. He likes soccer. miyavi likes soccer. They play together. I suppose playing around with his younger self (though he doesn’t realize this for a while) got him to re-realize his once-ambitions and re-apply that to his current ambitions. I’m grabbing at straws here, but I like to think that the “present day” miyavi of the movie was arrogant and too-comfortable in his position, thus lacking ambition anymore. And seeing his younger self reawakened that. But I could very well be making this up completely. It’s really not that exciting either way though.
What might be more interesting than analyzing movie!miyavi by himself though, is contrasting him with real!miyavi, and trying to figure out how much he really plays himself. The real miyavi might come off as incredibly arrogant — he has 我 tattooed to his left shoulder blade, which is pretty much the universal kanji for self-referencing words such as “I,” “me,” and “myself,” among other self-referencing symbols and quotes including “I’m the one and only. In heaven and on Earth” and “Close your heart to every love, but hold no one in your arms but me.” The “I” kanji is also emblazoned upon many of his guitars. These details seem to contrast with his presented personality though, which, like I said, very often seems care-free and endearingly spastic (though it’s also worth noting that he’s very fond of repeating “miyavi desu!”/”I’m miyavi!” several times at the beginning of virtually every interview and video address). One has to wonder how arrogant he actually is and whether all the references to himself have another meaning entirely, maybe something spiritual (references to buddism also appear in some of his tattoos). I’m also fairly certain he uses “boku” to refer to himself rather than “ore” or “oresama.”
Movie!miyavi is very similar. Of course all the tattoos remain, and he has his “I” stamped guitar makes an appearance as well. I wonder if Oresama was miyavi’s way of revealing more of his serious side to the world, since he rarely gets to show it otherwise. Japanese celebrities are notoriously secretive, with many of them performing under aliases, hiding their real birthdays, and so on. It’s rare that any of them would think to do an autobiography, or even a “semi-autobiography,” as he calls Oresama. I’m not sure if there’s any real way to identify how much of the “real” miyavi we see in the movie, but it’s interesting to think about all the same. PS – miyavi’s official domain is o-re-sa-ma.com. :3
MUSIC – Well, I’m obviously a fan of miyavi’s music, but I don’t really feel as if it was used very well in this movie. In particular, the performance he does with the band seemed like a very poorly-made music video. He obviously had to be lip syncing, but it was really, really bad lip syncing. Mouth and music were clearly off and the acoustics weren’t very convincing. After the performances given in NANA and NANA 2, it was hard to accept this kind of haphazardness. It was also a little disappointing for me to see that “Coo quack cluck ku.ku.ru.” did not appear until the closing credits because that song probably fits the themes of the movie better than the other songs used. Oh well.
The insert and theme songs aside though, miyavi’s various demonstrations of his musical prowess throughout the movie were amazing. He is a masterful guitar player, and it’s very easy to become entranced when he picks up that instrument. Before he was a singer, he was a guitarist, and that’s obviously where his most of his skill is. If anything, watching his performances in this movie will encourage you to seek out some of his other live performances, especially solo acts. (I recommend his one-man band show for “Are you ready to rock?”)
ANIMATION & EFFECTS – Should have them out. Seriously. I had no desire to see miyavi burst into a bunch of cheaply animated feathers.
OVERALL – miyavi is an entertaining character with a ton of personality quirks — he’s very endearing to watch, whether he’s attacking his guitar, arm wrestling while drunk, or miming in an alleyway trying to be invisible. Unfortunately, Oresama fails to present an engaging story, and that failure comes to overshadow the rest of miyavi’s entertainment value. If you’re a hardcore fan, it might be worth it try and analyze his character in it, but if you just want to watch miyavi be miyavi, be amazed, or get a laugh, just go watch a live performance or some of his weird interviews. Don’t bother with this.
Maybe it isn’t so surprising that no one felt like subbing Oresama after all…