I’ve learned in my experience that when a movie opens with a crime scene you best go forth as if you are barefoot and the ground before you is filled with shattered glass. That’s how I approached this Japanese version of Roommate and friend, was I ever glad! When I say the Japanese version I mean that there is an English version as well which interestingly came before this one. And yes, I watched that too when it came out but I did not enjoy it. It’s probably to do with the fact that I wasn’t that into crazy lesbian characters at the time and frankly this is way superior even story wise.
This movie is a bit confusing if this is the first time you have seen movies with this kind of story structure but if you are aware of it and know how to follow along, the build up is kind of straight forward, until the very end when even the experts are forced to re-watch the movie again because of that twist la twist that finishes off the movie. It gets explained before the movie ends but even with the explanation I was still left blank like pieces were missing. Even upon re-watching I was still left a bit confused.
I like that in movies!
Kitagawa Keiko as Harumi
Fukada Kyoko as Reiko
Well then, let’s start spoiling. Sorry if you haven’t watched this yet but you do not to be told that there be spoilers here. I will also take this opportunity to say again that this movie is everywhere! It’s even on youtube for crying out loud. So there shouldn’t be an excuse of not being able to find it. And with how popular it seems to be, I am confident that it won’t be long before we get English subs. hell, there might even be an English DVD release. I just have a feeling.
Back to the topic though, this movie as I said starts with a crime scene! Two people are carted away on stretchers and one of them is Hagio Harumi (Keiko). The other is Dick of course because we just have to have one in every movie no excuses. But since he wasn’t that annoying and he is good looking too and I think I know him, he won’t be so stepped on by me this time. There is another victim in this crime scene but he is done and toasted and may Akumura claim his soul! As the detectives survey the scene of crime, a figure dressed in a curious dress that looks like white with bots of blood, ghosts by but the detective sees her and tries to run after her. They never catch her. Harumi and dick are hospitalised as the police looks for the mysterious woman and another person that was presumed to be the centre of this chaos, Harumi’s roommate named Nishimura Reiko (Kyoko). Her whereabouts are unknown but she is the prime suspect it seems.
This all though is happening in the future, or well, in the now. It depends on however you want to think of the movie’s timeline. If you think of the movie as happening in the now, and by that I mean the majority of it, then the crime is in the future. If you want to take it as it is, the the crime has happened and the story takes place in the past. This latter is the true case because the movie goes out of its way to tell you the passing of time, like 3 months ago or something. Not to mention that the present periodically cuts into the story when we get back to the detectives interrogating the now conscious Dick and what his story is with Harumi, who was still unconscious.
So, we cut away from the present while Harumi is hospitalised then we are dropped into the past where Harumi is once again, yep, hospitalised. I blame that decision for my confusion during the first watch. I did not understand the timeline differences until towards the end during my first watch because with lapsing of the present and the past and with Harumi being in the hospital I thought that the movie was just continuing on from the crime scene and that Reiko was the Lady in Red now come back to her victims disguised as a nurse.
Yes, I spent more time trying to understand the story and catch up to the plot more than anything else that I found little enjoyment in it, what with the confusion and concentrating on dissecting the story. I ask thee to watch the movie again in case you have already watched it once and didn’t make sense to you because you will enjoy it more once you know the flow of the story.
The past opens with Harumi opening her eyes since the incident but this is not the same crime scene we are talking about here. Yeah, during the first watch I thought it was but it isn’t. No, this time Harumi had been run over by a car in the rain as she crossed the road. The driver of the car was of course Dick. As one would expect her memories are fuzzy when she first wakes up and as she is being questioned by the nurse, an ominous shadow stretches out on the ceiling prompting Harumi to looks towards the door way and there stands Reiko dressed up as a nurse. It is then that two two first meet. Well, as far as we the audience is concerned it was their first meeting. And maybe to the current Harumi too. I will explain in a bit.
It isn’t until the next day that the two finally talk when Reiko comes over to Harumi’s hospital bed. Reiko totally wins over Harumi with such ease that you just have to be impressed. I was too during my first watch when I knew nothing but everything made sense when I went for the second round. It explained how comfortable Harumi seemed to be around Reiko, a woman she had just met and how well Reiko knew Harumi and get to her so easily. It’s with this trust that when Reiko suggests that they be roommates, even having only met for like a day or days at most, Harumi agrees so easily. Now granted Harumi was in a pinch and Reiko seemed like God send at the moment but any other person would have questioned this attraction at least a little. But not Harumi. It’s not like she is the nicest girl in the world, well she is nice but we never see her interact with other people other than Dick to be able to judge her character but you can just see that she has this fascination with Reiko.
So much so in fact that when they move into Harumi’s flat after her discharge and spending only one day with each other, that Harumi is already begging Reiko to never leave her, to stay with her forever. Yeah, I was raising eyebrows during my first watch wondering what the hell Harumi was smoking and wasn’t Reiko supposed to be the crazy one? Indeed I was already scratching my head trying to understand what in the Lord’s name I was watching. But as I said already, this all seemed so logical during my second watch knowing what was what. This knowledge also made me understand Reiko answer to Harumi asking her to never leave her – “We are always together.” At first that sentence holds no significance but knowing what is to come, it holds a whole new meaning. And that scene, I swear I thought I was about to see them kiss right there but to my disappointment, it didn’t happen. Patience though my young apprentice, patience.
One thing was set straight though. Reiko’s dark side started to come out and it put a very huge grin on my face. Finally, something I was expecting went according to plan. And really, Reiko was the best choice to play the Dark one. Her voice is so very menacing and hold this energy to it that just simply sends chills down my spine. The first occurrence came by when the two went for a walk outside. The come upon a family of a mother and her two girls playing with a young pup. Harumi is all happy and wishing to have a pet which I see as her trying to build a family with Reiko (I mean hey, pets and kids, no so much difference) but Reiko’s reaction was one not expected. her happy mood suddenly dropped and she went onto this word rampage that put pets under anything but good light. That sent the first wave of bells going off inside my head but not to Harumi. Man, that girls is so far into Reiko she is already helpless.
The second incident happens on their dinner date (Seriously, will they ever have a date that ends well?). Any way Harumi is super happy again because, date! But then Reiko catches sight of that nurse that was questioning Harumi upon her waking up in the hospital. Not really sure what their relationship were or why Reiko hated her so much but upon seeing her, her happy mode is ruined. She cuts that steak on the a plate with an emotion that a serial killer would have cutting up bodies. Sorry for the gruesome pictorial but I love Miona for a reason. Any way, Reiko is in the bathroom trying to compose herself as they await desserts that I am sure were chocolate cheesecakes, when in comes the nurse. She asks Reiko if she was there with her boyfriend but Reiko says that she doesn’t have anything like that. they way she says it makes it sound like her interest in guys might as well be on the same level as her interest in pets. And we all know how she feels about pets. Well not yet but soon you will. it should have been a warning to the woman to shut about about the topic but apparently some people are wired the wrong way for she goes on to suggest a group date with Reiko. I was like, come on woman what do you want? To spell it out to you that Reiko isn’t into guys!!? Anyway, with the composition that I did not think she had, Reiko again states how none interested she is in that kind of thing. But that woman would simply not shut up. She did though, when she turned and saw the look on Reiko face. I think I heard my own heart skip two beats. I could totally see the captions filling up the screen reading –
‘BITCH I WILL CUT YOU IF YOU DON’T SHUT THE FUCK UP’.
Not even the bravest of warriors would say another word after seeing that look. And then when the nurse leaves, Reiko looks to the mirror with the creepiest of faces I had yet to see on her face and she says something in a voice that belongs to no human, ever! What is interesting is the shocked look that crosses her features when she seemingly gets back to her senses. I was okay, are we in the exorcists territory now? Is Reiko possessed by some kind of scary demon? And things get worse too further putting truths to my speculation. later at the house as Harumi tries to sleep, she hears voices talking. Reiko seemed to be taking to another person who also sounded like a woman. they seemed to be i a very heated conversation with words like ‘die’ being thrown around. Harumi of course goes to see what was going on seeing as she was sure it was just the two of them in the apartment. But when she goes to the living room, there is only Reiko and no one else. Harumi tries to comfort Reiko telling her not to push herself but Reiko’s demons have been awakened. This time Harumi faces the fire and it was really painful to see Harumi being left there in the the empty room when she was only trying to be there for Reiko. I confess that at this time, since I did not know any better, I kind of was angry at Reiko for being so mean to Harumi. But the torture hadn’t even began and the demon not even fully awakened yet.
And of course to no one’s surprise I hope, Dick decides to start showing up now that the rifts between Reiko and Harumi’s relationship have started appearing. They always seem to conveniently show up in times when the heroine is in need of company, don’t they? Too bad Harumi isn’t one of those weakly heroines that would grab the chance to stick to their so called saviour because she has as much interest in Dick as she would any other person that isn’t Reiko.
Reiko on the other hand is getting worse and worse. On her way back from rehabilitation session at the hospital, Harumi meets the two girls from before that were playing with the dog. They are placing out fliers and it seems the dog went missing. I was just wondering why they went into the trouble of showing us that seeing at the girls aren’t that important to the story when my mind got completely blown only moments later. When Harumi returns home, Reiko is cooking dinner but she isn’t in the kitchen. Harumi while storing away the good she bought catches glimpse of the kitchen sink and I tell you dear Readers, that scene was so unexpected that I totally gave up on my half-eaten dinner. You know I love horror and gore is nothing to me but seeing this scene here people, I tell you I think my stomach did a 720 on me!I am not sure if it’s because I wasn’t expecting such a scene in this movie or what. Maybe it’s the fact that they showed such an innocent scene of the little girls searching for their missing dog only for it to show up seconds later being boiled for dinner!
That’s right, the missing dog is in a cooking pot in Harumi and Reiko’s kitchen and they did not spare anything! They show the chopping board with the dog’s collar swimming in blood on it and even in the pan itself you see the cooked head , dear God! Even writing about it is making me sick! it was like the director didn’t want ambiguity with the scene! I am pretty sure no one will have delusions of grandeur trying to un-see that. Dear Lord Reiko, what is happening to you?! And when Reiko finally shows up, she is looking around like she didn’t know jack about anything. Looks like the demon took over her body and did the deed without her knowing but of course you know what Harumi thinks even if Reiko was telling the truth. What was more interesting though, and this comes to me upon the second run through, is the fact that Harumi is the one more calm about the situation that Reiko.
As things go on Harumi begins to understand that there is something strange about
Mary Reiko but while Reiko is getting worse, Harumi also begins to display weird behaviour. Like there was this moment after the semi-date, well, maybe to Dick it was, where they go to a school recital and when it is done, Reiko is outside waiting on Dick who was speaking to his co-worker and she sees one of the schoolgirls being escorted away by a man. Hey, I know that Dude! He’s the one that hosted that AKB challenge show that brought us the infamous tororo Yukirin alongside Sashiko. Any way Harumi sees him taking the girl away and there is this moment where she stands on her two feet totally forgetting that one of them is injured and she looks on like in a trance. That scene made me more confused, again during my first watch but now that I know I was just nodding my head in understanding.
We are half way through the movie and things really turn for the worst. The tension in the apartment was so thick that even flies would be crushed by its sheer weight. Reiko has began wrapping Harumi up in a cage and Harumi won’t even eat anything prepared by Reiko anymore even if Reiko feeds it to her, which she actually did by the way. The demon is also now fully awoken judging by the other shocking scene that takes place! The poor nurse, seriously, whatever did she do to deserve it?! And knowing the whole truth puts even more confusion on the matter. Any way the nurse gets done in by Reiko for reasons that shall never be known and her death was not a very pleasant one. You know how people push others down the stairs to kill them in scenes like that, well Reiko doesn’t simply push them! No! First she messed your face up by washing your skin away with means of a splash of Acid then you have her permission to fall down the stairs, breaks all kinds of bones and then die!
Yeah, Reiko is one you don’t want to mess with.
And she is getting worse. At home during breakfast, the news breaks of the crime and Reiko doesn’t seem that bothered by it despite the nurse being her co-worker. She goes off somewhere but when she comes back, she greets Harumi as if she is seeing her for the first time that day. Yeah, there is something very wrong with Reiko. On the news they show what the suspect was wearing and a brief description. She was of course wearing that red bloodied dress and when Reiko sees it she freaks out and runs away. Harumi goes to run after her but she is no where to be found (????) Harumi walks into her room looking for her but she is of course not there. What Harumi finds though is that dress in all its glory standing majestically within Reiko’s open wardrobe. Harumi of course chooses to play denial and simply closes the closet doors instead of calling the police despite the fact that she should know by now that there really is something wrong with Reiko.
I believe I mentioned the demon within Reiko fully awakening? Well I wasn’t lying. Harumi and the demon finally meet face to face when one day going home from her part-time job at Dick’s workplace (yep, she works for him) Harumi catches sight of Reiko all dressed to kill and going somewhere. Harumi follows Reiko into some shady part of town that is filled with strip bars and host clubs but of course Reiko was onto her and she kindly takes her on another grown up date in one of the host clubs.
But this is not Reiko that is before Harumi. Harumi doesn’t know it yet though as all she is worried about is Reiko and why she wasn’t returning home. I guess I missed that memo where Reiko went missing for a couple of days. She wonders if she had done something to make Reiko hate her. But Reiko isn’t Reiko.
She introduces herself as Reiko’s roommate (as in sharing the same body, geddit?) Mari. she says that this wasn’t the first time they’ve met, even though at the time Harumi was still young but of course Harumi simply ignores this thinking that Reiko is just playing with her. The demon simply gives up on convincing Harumi seeing no point in it and decided to do what demons do, just have fun! Like kissing Harumi senseless so she could forget about Reiko and have fun with her instead. But of course Harumi’s feelings for Reiko are that strong so she denies Mari. mari is of course not amused being rejected so she decided to bitchslap Harumi which was a very strange scene to me for some reason. It wasn’t like the slapping for the sake of hurting someone or being violent but…Ahh i can’t put a finger on it. Any way Mari tells Harumi that if Reiko is that important to her she shouldn’t let her out of her sights.
Harumi returns home in haste but the horror is not over, unless Reiko travels faster than the speed of sound, there was someone else there in the house with Harumi. That scene did not make sense to me at all like many others during the first watch but again as I said, it is perfectly sensible once you know. And since I know I will let you know now since I feel sorry for some, the person in the apartment at that time as Harumi took a shower was not Reiko, or Mari, but someone else entirely, well okay, later it will be Mari but not right now. And I just confused you more, didn’t it? Any way not feeling safe anymore in the apartment (finally! took you long enough) Harumi leaves to go and crush at Dick’s.
Suffice to say she doesn’t even spend a night there before she tries to leave after getting a distress call from Reiko. Really, it’s maddening the way Harumi is head over heels for Reiko! But of course Dick catches her trying to sneak out of the house and she is forced to stay. One night is all Mari grants them though before she comes crushing in all serious business. And by serious business I mean SRS business, the killing dress code and everything. Dick’s co-worker seems to be onto something that would spell bad news for Mari and Mari can’t have that. While the two men are arguing about something, Mari swoops in and takes Harumi away and towards the final stage. There they lure the co-worker and Mari wastes no time in filling him up with holes using the help of a knife. Harumi can’t do anything but look on in horror as Mari wastes the Dude. Too bad for Dick he chooses that moment to call Harumi. Their call is interrupted by Mari who plays victim in need of saving to lure Dick too over. Yep, his day ain’t gonna end well.
While they wait, Harumi wants to know why Mari is doing what she is. Mari though on the other hand drops bomb after bomb on Harumi saying how they have always been like this. being like what Mari, murdering people? And that apparently Harumi has only forgotten because of the accident. yeah, it is time for revelations and man was there revelations! Let me just say before hand that I’ve never seen a family as messed up as Harumi’s. We are given glimpses of Harumi’s past through her memories flowing back and girl, was it one dark past! If you watched the Hellsing ultimate OVAs think of Alucard’s past. Yeah, it’s basically the same here but tuned up to 11.
Get this, Harumi was not only a victim of DV but she was being raped by her own father. And nothing could even be done because her mother was on her father’s side telling her to never breathe a word about anything to anyone ever saying how her father is actually not a bad person. I was like, um lady, are you mad? turns out I shouldn’t bothered because she was indeed mad! When Harumi’s father commits suicide(probably Harumi talked or someone knew and they talked and word spread) guess what the mother does!
She too fuckin raped Harumi! With a frikkin broomstick! Can you like believe that shit! She so deserved the knife to the throat she got from Mari at the time. Well, she was actually strangled to death but still, a knife would have sufficed. That was the time Mari was speaking of, hers and Harumi’s first meeting.
By the way, I know that girl that played younger Harumi. She was in Iguchi Noboru’s Zombie Ass in which she played the heroine’s little sister.
Any who, going back to the story, the revelations were only just starting though. The biggest one yet was yet to arrive and it did when Dick finally arrived at the club. Yes, their final stage was the club at which Mari kissed Harumi. So much symbolism. Any way when Dick gets to the club, a knife through his shoulder is what greets him but it’s his reaction at seeing the face of his attacker and what he says that is so shocking. We as the audience see Harumi off to the side trying to warn Dick but it’s too late as Mari drives the knife in his shoulder. But what Dick says in not Mari’s name or even Reiko’s but rather – Harumi.
Nope, you are not imagining the sound of a pin dropping.
Mari stabs Harumi but it in actuality Harumi stabbing herself and so we get the opening scene of Harumi and Dick being wheeled away to ambulances and a dead body of co-worker inside. Back to square one and now you know almost everything. Mari was never real. Reiko did not exist. Those were people figmented by Harumi hurt subconscious. She is the one that killed her mother and it is probably then that her personality split because no one can recover from that. All this time she has been talking to herself when she though she was talking to Reiko. She was the one that went off on those kids and their dog and yes, she was the one the cooked the poor pup. She is also the one that killed the nurse and lastly the co-worker. Yep, this is all Madoka Rebellion happening here except instead of all being in Harumi’s head as she lays in the hospital, it is partially real. People are dead.
But we don’t know all yet. There is still the issue of Reiko and Mari. How could a figment of an imagination have such conflict! There is simply no way to have a subconscious that complex that it would create another subconscious within itself. No there has to be an explanation and there is. remember the girl at the recital that made Harumi go all weird? Well, that girl has apparently been in contact with Harumi all this time. She had access to their apartment, had even permission to write in their shared diary but for some reason they never bothered to show us the two getting along.
She is the real Mari and knowing everything now, it explains why Harumi’s view on Reiko was skewered with the appearance of Mari. I am guessing that was around the time that Harumi and the girl started to know each other. It was Harumi that gives her the name Mari as a way to escape the harsh reality of being sexually abused by her teacher, played by the Dude I mentioned who hosted that show with Sashiko. And so this girl now has the personality of Mari and of course that means trouble. And trouble comes in the form of her wanting revenge on the teacher and was about to murder his ass in front of countless people with the other Mari’s knife to the face when Harumi saves her from crossing to the place of no return having escaped from the hospital. Remember we are in the present now.
Harumi is of course arrested for murder of the co-worker and the nurse even if she would have gotten off for the murder of her mother seeing as she was underage then and we know Japan and underage laws. She will probably live the rest of her life in prison but for some reason I don’t feel towards her as I usually feel towards characters who kill. I guess this split personality thing really disperses the direction of the blame. But really, I don’t think she is worse off in prison too. The outside world didn’t seem to be doing anything for her and since she had Reiko by her side, her home is with her even in prison. Yep, Harumi was still seeing Reiko in all her nurse glory towards the end so as far as she is concerned, she is all good.
And oh, Dick didn’t get any and probably will never. Just saying. Harumi’s heart belongs to Reiko and only Reiko, even if she is not real, or isn’t she?
And thus endth the movie!
I really, really love this movie. That twist, or more truthfully those twists at the end were simply delicious! I wasn’t even bothered by the fact that Reiko wasn’t real, that’s how much I enjoyed this movie. Both Keiko and Kyoko were simply fabulous as expected from them. And the end doesn’t feel at all like a BAD END at all. It would have seemed like it to me a couple of years ago but not now. I have a whole new look at the world now. If what we have seen that seemed so real in Reiko and Harumi’s then how less real can it be from now on? To Harumi Reiko is still there, she hasn’t gone anywhere only to us viewers. In other words, Reiko and Harumi’s story continues on within her world and now that she has awoken to her memories, well…So yeah, tots recommend this movie. It is everywhere online even on youtube proof being the source of these caps actually…so really…And before I sign off, all the caps including some I couldn’t put up…