Review: Ain’t No Tomorrows (Tanada, 2008)

Japanese Title: 俺たちに明日はないッス aka. Oretachi ni Asu wa Naissu

Director: Tanada Yuki

Info Links: AsianMediaWiki, IMDb, Trailer

Rating: ★★★

“The Summer when youthful passion sweltered in the air.”

Ain’t No Tomorrows opens with this line, though it would be more accurate as “The Summer when youthful and somewhat annoying characters suffered in the sweltering air.”  Hiruma (Emoto Tokio), a high school senior whose only goal in life is to get laid as fast as possible, attempts to blackmail the sickly Tomono (Miwako), who is in a serious relationship with their teacher (Taguchi Tomorowo), into having sex with him.  Repeatedly failing, he turns to Ando (Kusano Ini), a fat boy, in order to take out his sexual urges by squeezing his man boobs.  Little does he know that Ando is lusted after by Akie (Misaki Ayame), the school beauty, who seems to like him for “who he is.”

Hiruma and Ando’s friend, Mine (Yuya Endo), one day stumbles upon Chizu (Ando Sakura), who is passed out in the grass with period blood running down her leg.  She has no idea about her own body and appears to not be knowledgeable about sex, so Mine “helps her out.” This pairing turns out to be the best in the film, though it is the least represented on screen.  In fact, the scene in which they meet is the best scene in the movie.

Ando Sakura delivers the most notable performance of the film with very little screen time.  There is an undeniable draw that her character exudes–you’ll find yourself wishing that the whole movie was about her character.  She also bares it all, not afraid to hide what exists underneath her clothes, unlike most Japanese actresses who can actually act.  To have an actress that’s unafraid to do anything in the Japanese film industry, that’s something special.  Endo Yuya as Mine, paired with Ando’s Chizu, delivers a likable yet unlikable performance, making their scenes together some of the best of the film.

“Once I jacked off 13 times in one day” — Hiruma

The rest of the cast is somewhat annoying, especially the character of Hiruma, whose endless quest for sex will end up driving you crazy.  He is always either yelling profanities, grabbing Ando’s man boobs, reading from erotic novels, or masturbating.  The teacher, Yoshida, is quite pathetic, allowing himself to be made fun of by students and is even beat up by Hiruma, though he eventually rounds out.  Ando is extremely awkward, especially when spending time with Akie, who has a liking for his obesity.  All in all, no horrible performances, but weak characters that seem to have little ambition in their lives.

Cinematography is of fairly normal Japanese fair, with many close ups, a slightly shaking and constantly moving camera, and an intimate style.  The camera never feels obtrusive and always captured the scene well.  Music is basically nonexistent, except for the ending credits.  Director Tanada Yuki keeps the film short–only 79 minutes–which worked quite well; the film ended just as I was about to check the time.

Although much of what the characters in Ain’t No Tomorrows do is baffling and pathetic, it effectively illustrates the darker side of growing up: experiencing the things that your parents never really talked to you about.  What separates this film from the TV-sponsored, idol-fair teenage dramas is Tanada’s commitment to the diversity of her characters, regardless of the fact that some of them are extremely unlikeable.  She presents the film in a manner rarely seen in youth films, using non-pretty faces and utilizing actors that are far apart from the popular, mainstream idols.

Based on a manga by Saso Akira that I have not read, the film caters to a high school or older audience, marked by the frequent addition of profanity, nudity, and scenes of (mostly attempted) sex.  It is an unexpectedly dark film, with infrequent scenes of comedy that may make you chuckle, but not laugh.  Ain’t No Tomorrows is not the most likable film out there, but it is not completely dissatisfying.  It is a film that succeeds in establishing itself as unique and apart from the typical teenage drama, but feels like a surface film–one that should not be thought too deeply about.

Recommended for potential viewers who:

  1. like to watch teenagers on a uniquely presented, possibly sometimes meaningful quest for sexual fulfillment;
  2. want to see another great performance by Ando Sakura, even though she doesn’t get enough screen time;
  3. will recognize AV-star Aoi Sora in a cameo that I guess she has

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