“５つ数えれば君の夢・” (Count Five To Dream Of You) is a movie that came about through the Japanese crowd funding service Campfire, and stars all of the members of Tokyo Girls’ Style (Konishi Ayano, Yamabe Miyu, Arai Hitomi, Nakae Yuri and Shyoji Mei). The campaign ended up being very successfully funded, gaining around 7 million yen or over $65,000 USD in pledges which was a little more than twice the target amount of 3 million yen. The film was directed by director Yamato Yuuki, who is known for her works such as “「あの娘が海辺で踊ってる」”(literal translation “That Girl is Dancing on the Seashore”).
When I first saw this trailer earlier in the year, what drew me into it wasn’t the fact that the stars of the movie were all the members of Tokyo Girls’ Style, but the production value presented in the trailer and perhaps the use of Chopin’s “Nocturne Op.9 No.2” (I had to use Shazam for that) as the background music. As you can tell, watching this trailer wasn’t enough to give me an idea of what was going on so naturally, I sought to find out more information about this movie.
I then came across this trailer and after watching it several times, a few key thoughts came to mind: “Miss Contest (a beauty pageant)”, “Hiichan”, “Mei = main antagonist?”, “suicide”, “yuri (girl on girl relationships)” and “drama, lots and lots of drama”. While this is trailer is better than the first one, I still felt like I didn’t have a very good idea of what the plot was supposed to be. I went on to read the summary on the official movie page but even that turned out to be more vague than I thought.
The summary in the movie page brings up key terms such as “Longing”, “Impatience”, “Impulse”, “Youth” and I had no idea how those themes tied into the movie. As a result, I was left puzzled but definitely curious and I knew I really wanted to see this movie. Unfortunately for me, the movie seemed to be only playing in Japan which means the only way for me to see it was to wait several months for a DVD release and order that online. From that point I mostly forgot about it, only remembering that it was a movie that I’d really want to see.
Fast forward a few months and luckily for me, it turned out that Tokyo Girls’ Style would be performing at J-pop Summit Festival 2014 on both days, as well as airing their movies at a theater and it turned out I was able to go due to perfect circumstances. I remember being so excited that I actually bought my movie ticket a month before I got my VIP pass for J-pop Summit Festival itself.
Before I get into the movie itself, I think it’s important to understand how I view movies when I’m watching them. For me, a good plot is the most important thing for a movie to have. When a person might say that an actor did a terrible job in a movie that I enjoyed the plot of, I don’t understand why. In that sense I am more sensitive to a movie’s storyline than an actor’s acting, something that I feel oblivious to most of the time. Which by the way, if I feel that an actor did poorly, then you know that actor’s acting was pretty poor. Fortunately for me, I didn’t sense anything wrong with any of the member’s acting in “Count Five To Dream Of You”. In fact, I thought their performance was really well executed and meshed well with the movie.
As for the actual movie, I could really feel the adrenaline rush from all of the drama that was happening. The girls’ acting was amazing, the production quality was amazing too…but the only thing that I felt largely dissatisfied about was the storyline. I wasn’t alone in my conclusion as many others shared my sentiment. After the movie, we were all completely confused as to what was going on and what their actions were supposed to lead to. As a result, the people who watched Tokyo Girls’ Style’s horror movie the next day, “「学校の怪談ー呪いの言霊」”or “Kotodama – Spiritual Curse”, concluded that it was the better movie out of the two. I really hate horror movies or anything remotely horror related and after hearing their opinions, I remember feeling defeated and feeling the need to watch it in order to have some sort of closure.
What was wrong with the storyline? While I did mention that I felt adrenaline rushes, they were reactions to the intense dramatic scenes occurring at that moment. Overall, the story itself consisted of several separate stories moving in parallel, at times intersecting with each other when a member interacted with another member. For each member’s character, they all represented some sort of extreme whether that be covetousness, longing, adoration…but the main issue I had with that was, “For what reason?”
What was the reason for the character’s traits and what did that accomplish story-wise? Or to put it in a more general and blunt manner, what was the point of the story? Sure there might have been a beauty pageant going on but I feel like it was more of a setting that moved the story along as opposed to being the main focus of the plot. By that point, it was already clear to me that the movie was more of an art movie rather than a movie with a cohesive plot.
I consider myself pretty bad with understanding art so while I want to see it again, it’s only because I really wanted to understand what was going on as opposed to wanting to watch it again because I enjoyed the movie. I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy the movie, I just feel like I could enjoy it even more if I were to fully understand the movie’s intentions.
Fast forward again, and it turned out that “Count To Five To Dream Of You” would air at a theater nearby to where my Japanese friend lives. After I kept talking about it to her for the longest time, she decided to go see it as well.
She really explained it in a way that I felt was very insightful and gave me the closure needed for me to really appreciate all of the things that were going on. She explained it like this:
『代の女の子特有の『もろさ』 『傷つきやすさ』 （vulnerability) を描き出すこと。アイデンティティの不安定さ、性的なアイデンティティの不安定さ、また反面、純粋なもの、美そのものを追い求めるところ、またそこから生じる残酷さ など。ひとことで言うと、自分と外界との境界があいまいであること」
“It’s a movie that depicts a special kind of fragility of young teenagers where they are unsure of who they are, unsure of their sexual preferences and on the flip side, the pursuit of pure things and beauty itself, and the consequences of following that path. In other words, the “boundaries” between themselves and the outside are unclear.”
The following examples are spoilers but are the examples that she gave, which made complete sense when she explained them me.
Ayano, who is so attached to Mei that she doesn’t understand what the difference is between Mei and her, which leads her to make rather bold and creepy statements like “wanting to be Mei” and be “one with Mei”.
Similarly, Yuri who plays an overachieving character, acts the way she acts because she wants to be acknowledged by her older brother so much that it would make anyone think that she actually has a brother complex. But when it was explained to me by my friend, it makes more sense that she is confused between what she should be and what she ought to be when she tries to integrate herself with her older brother.
After putting everything into the context of my friend’s explanation, it really cleared up any confusion that I had about the movie. What made sense to me is that as an art movie, the point was not a linear plot which had a beginning, middle and end but rather a “showcase” of sorts. The thing being showcased was exactly as my friend put, the fragility of young teenagers. In other words and in a sense, “Count Five To Dream Of You” is a coming-of-age movie. I think what was interesting was after my epiphany, I realized this explanation was similar to the summary provided on the official web page of the movie which made me smile bitterly.
Either way, thanks to this explanation I feel like I was able to appreciate the movie even more. After having it explained to me, it made me want to watch it even more because I wanted to see it all come together perfectly now that I’ve gained a better understanding of how to approach the movie. What’s even better is that I feel satisfied enough to where I feel like I don’t need to push myself to watch “Kotodama”. With that said, I wholeheartedly look forward to the release of “Count Five To Dream Of You” this coming November. I believe there is going to be a “Premium Edition” and I will likely order that – if I don’t, I’m probably not #truefan right?
Thanks for reading, I appreciate any comments or feedback/suggestions. Here is a video of the Q&A after the showing of “Count Five To Dream Of You” that I took myself. I even got to ask the last question! You can hear me breathe a sigh of relief after the translator announces that they were out of time, I don’t know what I would’ve done if I didn’t get in a question. What’s cool is Miyu and Yuri see me do this and they start laughing.