When I think back about my romance experiences in high school I immediately laugh, and stop thinking about it just as quickly. I find it hard to believe I blew certain things out of proportions that today I don’t bat an eye at. One of them is confessing my feelings for a girl with the outcome being devastating to my very existence, or the greatest thing on Earth. One thing I certainly wasn’t when it came to young love was having it on my mind all day everyday. Imagine having an entire cast of characters just think, and talk about lovey dovey stuff to each other all the time, and you’ll have this movie in a nutshell.
In short, I’ve Always Liked You follows seven friends each in love with another person in their circle of friends. One bright spot are the characters facing the same conflict are decently fleshed out. Each character is given some time to explore their predicament, and how they’re uncertain to approach their situations. However, in a movie that barely crosses the one hour mark most of them will come out more shallow than others. Only Natsuki, and Yuu barely scraped out of this issue since the film dedicates more time to them than any of the other characters. While failing in being engaging there’s more to latch onto with Natsuki, and Yuu than with the other will they, won’t they couples.
When all the characters face the same issue of being unable confess their feelings to the one they love their personalities just mesh into one. Everyone is nice, shy, and contemplative about taking the next step from being just friends into a couple. This makes for one boring cast of characters when everyone is written to act similar to each other. Becoming easy to forget about them as you’re watching. Souta for example has the “love of first sight” symptom with further reasoning for his conquest of love coming off delusional. Souta, and his love interest don’t learn much about each other, or spent much to together making the outcome of their story hard to accept.
What passes for conflict in this movie feels underwritten. There’s a scene involving Natsuki being walked home by Koyuki (who likes Natsuki), and hugs her being unable to control himself. Nothing inappropriate is done in this scene, but the characters overreact artificially making something bad out of something innocent. This goes nowhere as the characters quickly move past it. There’s also the characters of Miou, and Haruki getting the short end of the stick in their plot line. Nothing ends up getting resolved between these secretive love birds. Worse of all, there’s not even an attempt to make this lingering plot point have meaning. Not even the faint idea of unrequited love stemming from this fear to express yourself is even touched on.
There’s another plot point in the movie that is left lingering. The folks over at Qualia Animation decided to dedicate an entire movie, The Moment You Fall In Love (2016), to resolving that. Something tells me someone over at Qualia Animation knew they might be testing viewers patience going around in circles with the repetitive conversations centered around love. Wouldn’t be an issue if they either had a smaller cast with a better focus, or a longer run time to flesh out the large cast more than they did.
The animation ranges from subpar to fine whenever it doesn’t have a flashback. Movement when at a distant, or simply talking is choppy in places. When in flashbacks it does that classic cheap animation thing of having a single frame stay on screen for a long time. This isn’t an issue until the end where they become more in used. Generally the movie is bright, and colorful, though there’s lack of shading in the hair. Qualia Animation does the trick for the movie, even if improvement in certain area is noteworthy. Character designs could be better. They just come off as bland.
When it comes to the music from Honeyworks I have no issue. They’re good songs that is able to fill a scene with more emotion than the film’s story. The usage of them is poor at times with director Tetsuya Yanagisawa placement of them being jarring at time. Within 30 seconds you have insert track play which is jarring for making a first impression. Once the movie is halfway through Yanagisawa uses Honeyworks song more often to substitute his poor storytelling. Voice acting is good with none of the voice standing out in their roles. Their characters all act the same, and they did the best with what they were given.
If the movie had more going on other than just teenagers being shy about confessing their feelings than it could of had a better chance of standing out. Seeing similarly written characters within the same movie all face the same issues without any distinguishable traits is not my idea of a good romance. There’s not much to seek your teeth into other than the surprisingly good soundtrack it has, but other than that if you want to be lost in excitement for a love story I suggest looking elsewhere.