Love & Pop is a live action directed by Hideaki Anno after
directing Neon Genesis Evangelion so it has the same
psychological monologues. The protagonist this time is a high
school girl, Hiromi, and there are sadly no mechs. If you liked
the live action scenes at the end of The End of Evangelion
you will probably like this film too as I did. Score: 7/10.
The subject matter is enjou-kousai, compensated dating, which
is the practice of paying a few hundred quid (however many Yen
that is lol) to a girl to pretend to be your girlfriend for a
few hours. This may or may not involve sexual services. The
setting is late 90s Tokyo, Japan.
The movie is technically an adaptation of an untranslated
novel, Topaz II by Ryu Murakami. I didn't realise that this was
a novel at all while watching this and neither did ThoughtAgent
The runtime is almost 2 hours which was too much for ThoughtAgent and
Sieg but I liked the grainy atmosphere so I didn't mind it at
all. Anno played a lot around here with unusual angles and first
person perspectives though the camera is thankfully not shaky at
all like those found footage films. In order to take these
unusual angles and occasional upskirting Anno used handheld
cameras, camcorders, specifically the Sony VX 1000, but
ThoughtAgent felt like the video quality was too bad because of
this, especially for a film which came out in the 90s.
I didn't mind it though, it added to the seedy-shady atmosphere
of the city and also made it seem lived in but lonely, like a
concrete jungle behind whose walls other leery, lurid and
interesting stories might take place not just the one which is
on film. The subdued, understated colours add to that feeling of
manifold stories with solitary protagonists occurring all at
once with us only being aware of one, of Hiromi's.
The duration of the film covers one day out for Hiromi in
Shinjuku, Tokyo, her first day doing compensated dating. First
with her friends doing shopping and doing enjou-kousai with
weird and sometimes preachy men, and then later by herself in a
quest to aquire a topaz ring before the end of the sale that day
or before her desire for it disappeared.
Her friends are introduced at the start in a monologue with a
montage but then after they disappear the only reappear at the
end for the credits scene where they walk in a canal as cheery,
hopeful 90s jpop with female vocals plays in the background. The
more interesting bits are seeing the girls interact with the
creepy, weird, and lonely men who shamelessly give their money
to be with these girls and get worse and worse as the day
reaches its end.
Sieg observed that the film is not preachy towards the girls
and I would agree as the only people who reprimand these girls
for their action are the hypocritical men who pay them for
compensated dating. I think it works. Hiromi looks innocent and
weak but neither I nor ThoughtAgent nor Sieg felt like the film
was making excuses for their behaviour. As for the weird men,
well it was fun to watch them - kind of reminded me a bit of the
live action "Portrait of an Otaku" scenes in Otaku no
Video, in that there was something comedic and stylised
about the portrayal of these men and it came through between
their sad and disgusting predicaments.
The message is a simple one of valuing oneself for the sake of
those who value you or something you could have thought of
yourself easily. The merits of this film lie mainly in the
presentation and the atmosphere, not the sort of thing that is
objective enough that it can be conveyed in words. This explains
why I and Parz probably enjoyed it more than ThoughtAgent or
Sieg. This rewatch sadly did knock-out a score from my valuation
of it, which is why I am always worried whenever I re-watch
something I liked, whether it will live upto my memory of it.
This worry proved true especially when I re-watched Area 88
with ThoughtAgent. It wasn't nearly as good as I remembered it.
The cure to this is to rewatch it yet again and again until you
can find things to enjoy in it, both new and old. I will
definitely be rewatching Love & Pop. This would be a good
place to end this review, and in fact it is over, but I have a
few left-over thoughts from my first attempt at writing this
The two hour conversation ThoughtAgent, Sieg, and I had on this
film was a bit too unfocused even for me. There just wasn't a
lot to say, as you can see by how short this review is. The only
way which would have forced us to come up with something to say
that I can think of would have been if we had gone over the
events of the film little by little like we did a couple of days
ago for Panty & Stocking. But would it have worked on a film
based on atmosphere?
I was much less busier when I first watched this film for the
first time and now re-watching it, it took two-sittings, two
days. No actually that's a lie, it's not that I was less busy
back then but that I just used the internet to watch anime and
stuff like this film rather than listen to random guys on
YouTube. I was more focused on fiction, I guess. It's not that
my attention span is shorter otherwise I wouldn't be able to
listen to youtube videos about history and politics which are
multiple hours long. I am just less focused I guess.
I think I might have watched on a mobile phone, probably my
Galaxy S3 (rest in piece), and in a weird sense maybe the small
mobile screen is closer to the big screen in a cinema than a
computer screen because you can't have multiple windows open on
a mobile phone, you can only focus on one thing at a time. And
so the mobile screen might be more like the mixture of a novel
reading experience and a big screen, I say novel reading because
you hold it in your hand and watch it privately unlike say a
television where someone might walk in and start watching with
Size matters, but other than that another thing which the big
screen has got is something that it has not got, the bar at the
bottom which tells you how time there is left for the film to
end, the ability to pause the film, and the lighting around you
which gives you an indication of time. Perhaps if Sieg &
T-Agent had watched it at a cinema they wouldn't have felt it
drag on for too long.
For better and for worse, a cinema also has other people.
Imagine watching Shinji cum at the start of the EoE while
sitting with a bunch of strangers or worse yet your friends or
worse yet your relatives. Also keep that hospital scene in mind
when watching L&P. It'll come in handy.
Cinema also has an advantage over novels, and for that matter
tv series, in that by virtue of the pages left or the episodes
left to watch you are aware of how much is left. More stuff can
be more stuff dividing you from the medium rather than
connecting you through your senses.
In my original review which I scrapped I said that Anno would
be remembered for Neon Genesis Evangelion whether he likes it or
not. I just dawned on me that he is working on a bunch of
popular properties now, like Ultraman, but the difference with
those is that he would only be adapting them, just adding to a
universe which belongs to many others, he wouldn't be an auteur
director and has to live within the frame and traditions set by
previous authors of previous iterations - his Godzilla movie had
to be another Godzilla movie, in fact it was a return to form
for Godzilla away from the western cancer Godzilla movies.
He can get away with being an auteur in Love & Pop despite
it being an adaptation because nobody knows the source material,
sorry Ryu Murakami, so peoples eyes won't be tinged by
previously imparted impressions of the characters. Apparently it
was Anno who chose to adapt Love & Pop so maybe it already
fit his mind's mold at the time.
of Love & Pop documentary was pretty interesting and
probably just as fictional as it was real, but that's the fun to
guess which is which while unthinkingly looking at it as if it
was real when convenient. In The
Making of Eva 4.0, he explained he made these Making Of
documentaries since he made one for The End Of Eva live action
sequences because people appreciate it less and less when things
are left unsaid, a mystery, I wonder if this was a sneed at
people who wanted an explanation for what happened in Eva.
Sometimes I wonder whether Eva is so influential only because
we want it to be, because we wished it were the case, that
single studio of fans could affect the industry. That wish came
true, or did it? If it did, was it a Monkey's Paw?
The only other media I have read related to compensated dating,
is the Rental Girlfriend manga unfortunately I am still
hate-reading it because I want to see where this trash goes so I
can review it when it ends, hopefully soon. The problem is that
rom-coms and compensated dating do not go together, it's like
building your ice house next to the mouth of mount Vesuvius, the
simp protagonist keeps on literally giving money to her love
interest so she may spend time with him, and we are supposed to
pretend there is any love here.
There's a little bit of bad CGI at the end of L&P, the bit
where Hiromi and the stuff in her bedroom starts to float around
the room. Hiromi looks really CGI there. Having that said
there's a lot of neat "practical effect" ( I don't know if
that's the word for it, I am not a film guy) in the dream
sequences Hiromi has, I wonder if the dreams have some sort of
double Freudian meaning given that Anno made some Freud
references in Eva with everyone and their mom having mummy
issues and going back into their mom in a cockpit. Is the
Hedgehog's Dilemma really a psychological term or did Anno &
Co come up with it on the go? Not bothered enough to google it
Mobile phones were apparently not that common in the 90s or
whenever this thing is set, anyway the Hiromi and the girlz have
to use a phone they borrowed to use the compensated dating
thing, in Rental Girlfriend there's an app, anyway I kind of
found it funny that the first thing a bunch of girls want to do
when they get their hands on a mobile phone is to sell
themselves for money to buy clothes and a piece of expensive
I guess that's spoilers for people in the 90s of what was to
come. The film of course puts the blame squarely on the pushy
pathetic men doling out their hard-earned money to these high
schoolers, so if you are feminist don't worry that's just my
view, not the films. Then again you will nag so why do I bother.
I too have fun complaining and being angry on the keyboard
sometimes. It can be helped though.
I guess there's a sub-theme, or a concurrent theme introduced
at the start that all the girls around Hiromi, who also did this
compensated dating thing a bit, nevertheless are moving on with
their lives whereas Hiromi is stuck in a rut and aimless. It
felt a bit on the nose, and quick too, with montages of Hiromi's
girlfriends buying PCs, getting auditioned as dancers, and
buying PCs (I guess PCs were a big deal in the 90s or maybe that
girl was becoming an programmer?), generally growing up and
leaving Hiromi alone.
There's a beach episode that you can watch if you want to see
the girls in swimming suits. The Making Of documentary claims
that this was supposed to be the real ending of the film but the
film got spoiled and so it's just included as an extra. I think
it would have been silly to add this. Come to think of it the
girls do go shopping for swimming suits in the film, so it may
not be a total lie but then I can feel Anno's nonchalant
smile at having fooled another one.
In the film it is shown as normal that they would drift away as
most people who go to school together do, but I do wonder
whether that was normal in the past and we have had to become
tougher or if this yet another weight modernity puts on us. I
for one am glad to have moved on from the people I knew in
highschool but I wonder if that's just post-hoc rationalisation
to justify something that happened as good. Well, if it is it
might be better left that way. As No Thankyou said, the city is
more like a jungle than an orderly beehive. People don't care
for you and that's a bad thing obviously but it's also a
good thing because other people won't bother you in your
The film is obviously accentuating the sexuality of the girls
because it can and wants to but it also shows what is lost, what
is being made light of, what has become not genuine by the
introduction of money into the equation, and in a sense by being
privy to a nakedness which must be exclusive it points at, not
obviously, at the cruelty that that exclusivity must entail.
Apparently a JAV director/actor fren of Anno was present on
set, I am not sure whether he added anything, but maybe that
explains the first person POV camera angles. I think Anno in
turn helped this JAV director film his own film Kantoku-Shikkaku
(Disqualified as a director, a play on Osamu Dazai's No Longer
Human title, Ningen-Shikaku obv) but that's another story.
And that ends my stray-thoughts, throw-away thoughts, left-over
thoughts, call them what you like thoughts on the film and
discussion on the film.
By Otaking, or The Good Student