A film by Hideaki Anno

So.. where to begin about Hideaki Anno's debut in the live-action filmmaking department? 

Well, to first clear one thing up - Yes, I have seen this film. But no, I don't speak Japanese. Thus, my views on the film are almost strictly based on what I could discern from the visuals, tone and themes. I've watched Love & Pop from beginning to end about 3 times with only the vaguest understanding of what's going on and still I enjoy the picture. I guess that means it's a good movie.

Love & Pop tells the story of Hiromi Yoshii played by newcomer Asumi Miwa. Hirmoi is a young, cute, high school girl who is drawn quite consciously into the world of "engo-kosei", "assisted dating" - a term which basically boils down to teenage prostitution.

The film is based on the novel, Topazu II: Love & Pop by Ryu Murakami but written and adapted for the screen by Anno. Love & Pop is actually a sequel [in name only] to the 1992 Japanese film known in the U.S. as Tokyo Decadence (or, Topazu in Japan). That film was written and directed by Ryu Murakami. But while Tokyo Decadence focused on the horror of Japan's S&M circuit in extremely graphic detail, Love & Pop presents a milder, tamer, look into the new-wave sex industry in Japan.

From an aesthetic point of view - Love & Pop is most interesting. The movie was shot entirely on handheld prosumer SONY handycams. This gives the movie a very amateurish, almost documentary, look. As if we are right next to Hiromi and her friends. Anno also composed the film mostly of rather bizarre camera angles. Some work, some don't. The novetly of Anno's odd angles does eventually wear off and some of his choices are just silly (for example, in scene the camera is looking out from inside a microwave, in another it's looking up from inside a bowl as soup is poured into it). But generally, Anno's style works well in the picture and by the end of the film to camera has seemed to calm down and give more reasonable perspectives.

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