Flying Colors is the most recent Japanese movie directed by Nobuhiro Doi. It was one of the biggest hits in Japanese theatres in 2015. Nobuhiro Doi is known for directing several J-drama and movies, among which Be with You, Nada sou sou and The wings of the Kirin.
The story centers around Sayaka, a girl who is referred to by her teacher as a ‘loser’. Growing up she had a hard time making friends, which caused her to transfer schools a few times. Her mother wants nothing more than for her daughter to be happy. Eventually Sayaka finds a group of friends, but unfortunately she shifts her focus away from studying and focuses only on having fun. She ends up getting into trouble at school and in order to go to a university that isn’t linked to her high school her mother enrolls her in cram school. Her new teacher, Tsubota, encourages her to chase her dreams and tells her anything is possible. With his encouragement she works hard to accomplish her goal of going to one of the prestige university in Japan, Keio University.
Flying Colors is a movie filled with funny moments, but also a lot of touching moments. The amount of insight you gain into Sayaka and her circumstances make it very easy to empathize with her and get swept up in this story. The fact that it’s based on a true story makes it even more fascinating to watch.
The interaction between Sayaka and her mother is heartwarming. Her mother, Akari, clearly wants her children to be happy, even if they don’t excel at the things they try. Her love for Sayaka, her daughter Mayumi and her son Ryuta is very clear to see.
Sayaka’s relationship with her father, Toru, on the other hand could use a lot of improvement. He talks down to her and only focusses on her brother, Ryuta’s future baseball career. In general he doesn’t seem to be an affectionate man, not even to his wife.
Tsubota encourages Sayaka frequently and watches her grow and improve. He has his students’ best interest at heart and wants them all to achieve their dreams. He makes learning as fun as he can. Tsubota feels there are no bad students, just bad teachers. This philosophy shines through in everything he does. He has a generally positive outlook on life and manages to convince them they can achieve anything they set their mind to.
Another influence on Sayaka is Reiji, a boy who is also in cram school. Sayaka inspires Reiji to try harder. Their interaction is often funny and sometimes a little flirty, although there’s never any real romance in this movie.
Most scenes in this movie are very well done and clearly got the right message across to the viewer. There was one scene however, where younger Sayaka got hit by a ball, that was meant as a dramatic scene but came across as a funny scene. The filming here was done a bit too dramatic, even slowed down, as you saw her fall. Especially since she didn’t sustain any injuries from the fall.
The music for this movie was provided by Eishi Segawa. They fit well with the scenes in the movie, but I wasn’t a big fan of her English lyrics. Her pronunciation wasn’t entirely right and this can easily bother me, but might not be a problem for others.
Overall I really liked this movie, it had it all; laughter and tears. The interaction between Sayaka and the people around her was interesting, especially when the relationship with her father started to change. Her dream of getting into Keio University seems impossible at times, but watching Sayaka continue to reach for this dream is very fascinating. You can feel yourself rooting for her. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who likes these kind of movies!
Director: Nobuhiro Doi
Released on: 1st of May 2015