By Takashi Oki / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterAs Christmas approaches, four young people — two men and two women — find themselves in love in “MIRACLE: DeviClau-kun no Koi to Maho” (MIRACLE: Devil Claus’ Love and Magic), which is currently showing at cinemas.
The film starsMasaki Aiba, who, surrounded by bright illuminations, portrays that dazzling moment of falling in love.
It’s not unusual for two people to be in love with each other without either realizing it — a classic prescription for a romance that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.
“I think it’s an energetic film full of positive power,” said Aiba, a member of the popular idol group Arashi. “If you see this film, you may want to fall in love yourself.”
As he spoke, it seemed as if he were the character he portrayed on the screen.
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Hikaru (played by Aiba), who works at a bookshop, is aspiring to become a manga artist but has so far had no breakthrough. On the other hand, his childhood friend Anna (Nana Eikura) is steadily building her career as an object artist. One day, Hikaru meets So Yon (Han Hyo Joo). Her stylish beauty and cosmopolitan air convinces Hikaru she is the love of his life.
Hikaru is friendly to everyone and cannot abandon people in distress. He is Mr. Nice Guy personified, which is in perfect harmony with Aiba’s image.
Asked if he identifies with the character, Aiba said: “Even in TV variety shows, I’m not my natural self. It’s not really acting or pretending, but I have to switch on [when I'm in front of a camera]. I acted this role thinking only about Hikaru-kun. If it fits the general image of myself, then I’m glad.”
An impressive part of the story is that Hikaru has another face beneath his smile — that of a young man with a pure heart who cannot stay pure, a characteristic that makes him more human and endearing.
A case in point is a scene about Comic Market, in which Hikaru participates to sell his dojinshi self-published comics. There he sees Kitayama (Toma Ikuta), a former university classmate, who has become a mega-selling manga artist. Hikaru — consumed by complex feelings — cannot feel genuinely happy for Kitayama.
“He could have descended further and further,” Aiba said. “ I discussed this with the director. I wanted to express his jealousy and disappointment. I could imagine Hikaru saying to himself, ‘What have I been doing all these years?”
His jealous feelings toward people around him and his frustrations about things not going well are given expression by Devil Claus, or DeviClau-kun, a character created by Hikaru as his buddy. In the guise of an evil Santa Claus, Devil Claus leaps and flies around the world of the story within the film. The fusion of an animated character in live-action scenes feels fresh.
This is the first time in seven years that Aiba has worked with director Isshin Inudo. “Kiiroi Namida” (Yellow tears), the last production they worked on together, starred all five members of Arashi. This time Aiba is on his own. Between those years, he has played the lead roles in many TV dramas and expanded the scope of his work.
Asked if his acting is any different from those days, he said, “I don’t know myself. But I hope it’s better thanks to all the experience I’ve had.”
The film’s music is supervised by singer-songwriter Tatsuro Yamashita, whose hit song “Christmas Eve” is played in a key scene.
Aiba said: “From when I was a little child, this song represented Christmas for me. I’m just happy to think that I’m appearing in a film that features this song.”
The movie, in Japanese, is showing at Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills and other cinemas. http://miracle-movie.com