Himeanole Review (2016) | Indie rom-com brutality

Himeanole Review (2016) | Indie rom-com brutality

English Title Himeanole
Japanese Title Himeanole
Kana Title ヒメアノ~ル
Director Keisuke Yoshida
Release Date 2016
Distributor Nikkatsu
Sub Genre Serial Killer

Himeanole follows Susumu Okada and Yuji Ando, two building cleaners tired with life and without direction. Despite the crushing monotony of his daily routine, Yuji has one thing that gives his life purpose, his unrequited love for Yuka Abe, a waitress at a local café. Yuka, however informs the pair that she’s being stalked by a classmate of Susumu‘s, Shoichi Morita. Hearing this, the two offer services to get to the bottom of whether Shoichi should be considered a serious threat.

If there’s a ‘problem’ with Himeanole it’s the way in which we discover films and how they are marketed. Simply seeing a review for this film on a website called ‘horror japan’ has already ruined its strongest asset. Yet if it were not reviewed on a website like this, the film would never find its target audience at all.

The marketing for the film shares much the same problem, with the first minute of the trailer advertising a romantic comedy (which it is), and the last half being packed full of nasty, realistic killings. Audition and The Blair Witch both managed to have their cake and eat it back in 1999, but Himeanole in the internet age doesn’t have such luxury. Going to the cinema to see a romantic comedy only to be hit with the intensity of I Saw The Devil at the 50 minute mark would be one hell of an experience, but not something that could feasibly happen in this age.

So does any of this actually matter? Is there any benefit in such a bait and switch when the ‘switch’ is required to be known through extraneous materials in order to reach its intended audience?

Not necessarily, because perhaps most impressive about Himeanole isn’t the way in which it flirts with genre, but in director Keisuke Yoshida’s proficiency in portraying violence. Unlike I Am A Hero, the violence here isn’t of the crowd pleasing variety, but rather a sad and disgusting approach. Death is protracted and pitiful as characters struggle to survive well past the point at which they have any reasonable chance at an escape. To be frank, the realistic violence here certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. Someone I watched the film with became very irritated with the film’s spitefulness after its almost whimsical first half, but if you like I Saw The Devil or Vengeance is Mine, you’ll be right at home.

I had hoped that the film would play more with the conventions of Japanese doe eyed romantic comedies, in which characters and actions would be considered incredibly creepy if they were to happen in real life. And while it does break apart the notion of the cute girl having to be pure, more could have been done with Tsuyoshi Muro‘s character who while hilarious feels lefts behind entirely when the film shifts gears, a relic of another film. It simply feels as though Keisuke Yoshida struggled to reconcile the two parts of his movie. A film in which he becomes the killer could have been interesting.

This isn’t that film. Instead the violence comes from outside of the central love triangle and is a disruption to the narrative rather than something that is evolved in to ala Audition. That said, take the Audition comparisons with a grain of salt when watching Himeanole. While I think there is a stronger story that could have been teased out of its bending of genres, Himeanole is nonetheless one of the best serial killer films Japan has to offer.

Relevant Links

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Craig 41 posts

Horror Japan is Craig Hatch, a Brit currently living in Tokyo, Japan. Horror Japan is a project that aims to review and collate media from all aspects of Japanese horror culture.

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Editor review




Take the Audition comparisons with a grain of salt when watching Himeanole. While there is a stronger story that could have been teased out of the bending of genres, it is nonetheless one of the best, nastiest serial killer films Japan has to offer.