We Are One – A Global Film Festival

Twenty-something Yoshika (Mayu Matsuoka) has had a secret crush on her middle school classmate Ichimiya (Takumi Kitamura) for the past decade and has never even thought about dating anyone else. Then one day her colleague (Daichi Watanabe), whom she only ever refers to by the nickname “Ni” or Two, asks her out and her life is thrown into chaos.

Much like its protagonist Yoshika, Tremble All You Want is cute, awkward, and messy. Yoshika’s life is split in two; a fantasy where she’s outgoing and bold, and reality where she’s quiet and shy. It takes time to see how these two different sides of her play out as she’s so lost in her own head and her memories of Ichimiya. This combination of bright sunshine and happiness in Yoshika’s dreams with the more melancholy aspects of her every day life, are naturally often at odds with one another and the effect can be jarring but also funny. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – I told you it was a bit messy.

While it’s refreshing to see a female character who is not sexually experienced and it not be used as a joke, or at least not a joke at her expense, Yoshika’s naivete sometimes goes to the extreme. Yoshika has been so caught up in her decade-long infatuation with Ichimiya that she hasn’t really allowed herself to make connections with anyone – whether just in terms of friendship or romance. This leads her to be both awkward and very judgmental towards others as she has no real frame of reference when it comes to any kind of substantial relationship.

As the film progresses it becomes clear that Yoshika is a lonely woman. She has no friends, just acquaintances like an old lady who knits on the bus, a local fisherman and a man who works at a train station. These are the people she surrounds herself with while not allowing herself to get attached. Even the one colleague she has an amicable relationship isn’t really allowed into Yoshika’s circle of trust.

Praise has to be given to Mayu Matsuoka who really encompasses all of Yoshika’s idiosyncrasies so well. She can go from desolate heartbreak to joyful love in a blink of an eye and there’s even a song that, while out of left-field, is pretty great and fits the character.

Ni is perhaps as awkward as Yoshika, as he tries to get to know her while she shuts down almost every attempt. Tremble All You Want treads that fine line with having a male character who’s just being earnest and sweet and one who’s not really picking up on the fact that sometimes Yoshika is uncomfortable. Though to be honest, I think having the audience know how caught up in Ichimiya Yoshika is, makes it clearer that she’s not putting in as much effort into dating as Ni is.

There’s a lot of bumps in the road in this romantic comedy, but there’s definitely one too many, as just when you think Yoshika has figured out what she wants from a relationship something else happens that extends the runtime for twenty minutes when there was a suitable end right there.

Tremble All You Want is sweet, but it’s Mayu Matsuoka’s performance that really pulls you in and mostly makes you look past the cringey moments in Yoshika’s quest for love.

Rating: ★★★

Directed by: Akiko Ohku

Written by: Akiko Ohku

Cast: Mayu Matsuoka, Kanji Furutachi, Anna Ishibashi