After the mess that was Tokyo Tribe, I wasn't that excited about Sono Sion's Shinjuku Swan. Plus, I never understood why Ayano Go kept getting those roles.
Shinjuku Swan is a movie about scouts in Shinjuku. They approach girls to work in kyabakuras or health centres and get a cut of the money. Basically, they are yakuza without the tattoos.
A penniless and jobless Ayano Go, gets becomes Iseya Yusuke's underling when he gets into a fight in Shinjuku and finds out he has a knack for scouting girls.
Ayano Go's character can take a lot of punishment and is also kind of straightforward stupid. Iseya Yusuke tells him that a lot of women in the water business are happy because they get to eat good food and buy they expensive handbags and Ayano Go believes him and makes it his mission to make all the girls he scout happy.
This is my favourite part of the movie; the guy who doesn't think too hard and sees the world in his own black and white way while working in a murky grey world.
This is the first time I've already thought that Ayano Go was pulling his weight in the acting department.
The other takeaway I have from Shinjuku Swan is that Sono Sion should have directed the Ryu ga Gotoku movie.
He knows how to shoot guys in suits a lot better than Miike Takashi.
Shinjuku Swan also feels like Sono Sion's most commercial work in a long time, which is a good thing.
When Sono Sion is allowed to do as he pleases, we end up with movies that have no pace and a narrative that is all over the place like Tokyo Tribe.
Unfortunately, Shinjuku Swan has two problems. First of which is that the main story about the two scout companies doesn't lead anywhere interesting and is more like a set up to what comes next.
The other problem is that Yamada Takayuki's character kinda sucks when he turns out to be a 'how can you understand my feelings' villain.
Despite the let down from the main story, I rather enjoyed Shinjuku Swan. Not to mention, it looks pretty good as well.
I like the character and wouldn't mind seeing a sequel.
Watchable movie as long as you don't expect much but if you want something really good about the Japanese water business, watch the first season of Ushijima-kun.
More Mano Erina wouldn't have hurt though since it was shot before she turned completely anorexic.
Huge sigh of relief from me that Shinjuku Swan did not suck. I'm looking forward to Sono Sion's 3 other movies that came out this year: Real Onigokko, Love & Peace and the Minna! Esper Dayo! movie.