'Closed Note' is the story of Kae, a first year university student who moves into an apartment where she finds the diary of the woman who lived there before her. This discovery sets off a number of changes in Kae's outlook on life and she finds inspiration from it as her life begins to mirror that of the woman's who wrote the diary.
My good friend Racheal who I've known since kindergarten and who has been living in Japan for the last 5 years sent me this book, 'Closed Note/クローズドノート' (Note meaning Notebook). She sent it ages ago and whilst I've read the first chapter about 5 times by now, I hadn't ever been able to continue on reading the whole thing because I would get sick of looking up words I didn't know and give up. However somehow knowing I was going to Japan gave me a bit more motivation and last friday I finally finished it!
I must admit that a lot of the 'twists' in the story you can see coming from a mile away (I don't know why it takes Kae so long to see them!) but I think that's part of the enjoyment of it. You can see where Kae is heading even though she can't and so you read on to see her reaction. Kae herself is a really relatable character, she doesn't seem to have a lot of confidence in the beginning but as the story goes on you see how she starts to take control of different situations on her own and lets herself be... well more herself. Though the ending felt a little sudden it did allow me the room to consider for myself how things might have continued on from there and overall I really enjoyed this book.
I decided that once I finished the book I would watch the movie (which I have avoided watching until now) of the same title starring Erika Sawajiri (沢尻 エリカ) as Kae and directed by Isao Yukisada (行定 勲) who also directed 'Crying out love at the centre of the world' (世界の中心で愛を叫ぶ).
I don't know if it's just because I've seen Erika Sawajiri in interviews on television and she seems like a bit of a diva, or if it's because her acting really does stink, but I just couldn't see her as Kae. The opening scene with her and her friend from the book Hana was really hard to watch because of all the odd gaps between lines and the awkward delivery of them. I did enjoy seeing Yuko Takeuchi (竹内 結子) in the role of Ibuki Sensei. She's so beautiful it's hard not to like her although she does seem to play a lot of the same roles.
The story changed quite a bit from the book, although still kept similar themes, ideas and feelings and so in that respect the screenplay seemed to be well adapted. Apart from the fact that they never resolved what happened with Hana's boyfriend, that seemed very odd. They didn't exactly resolve it completely in the book either but as he was only in one scene in the film it was almost as if they were going to cut him out and then decided not to and so shoved him in one spot. The only problem I did have with the screenplay was that it centred around Kae confessing her love to the male protagonist Takeshi which made the whole story seem a lot less compelling. In the book she doesn't even really, directly confess to Takeshi and it certainly isn't the climax. So whilst in the book you got a sense that the story revolved around her personal growth after being inspired by the notebook, the film ended up seeming like a half-baked romance gone wrong.
I know that most of the time when you read a book and watch the movie, you are going to be disappointed. But I really didn't have high hopes to begin with for this film and even then I was really disappointed. I actually felt like I was wasting my time watching it, which doesn't really happened often with me cause I love watching movies and when they are in Japanese I get to make the excuse that it's 'studying'. The only reason I watched until the end was to be able to write this review and tell you all to read the book (especially if you are studying Japanese, it's a pretty easy read) if you are going to do one or the other and if not, I wouldn't bother with the film anyway.