FANTAISA FEST 2021: ‘Georama Boy, Panorama Girl’ is All About Awkward First Times

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Georama Boy Panorama Girl

Live-action adaptations of manga have become some of my favorite films at Fantasia Fest, and for the film festival’s 25th anniversary, there is no shortage. Georama Boy Panorama Girl is one of those features. Based on a manga of the same name by mangaka Kyoko Okazaki which was published in 1988, Georama Boy Panorama Girl is a coming-of-age story that investigates young love, the uncertainty of the future, and the anxiety and excitement of all the first times that come with adolescence. But it does all of that with an awkwardness that can only come from teenage protagonists exploring a fragile love triangle rife with miscommunication.

Directed and adapted for the screen by Natsuki Seta, Georama Boy Panorama Girl stars Anna Yamada and Jin Suzuki as the young protagonists, Haruko Shibuya and Kenichi Kanagawa respectively. Haruko is a romantic. She loves video games and manga and dreams of a fairy-tale first love with her two best friends. Kenichi is struggling, to say the least. Having been a good student, he suddenly decides to quit school, taking to the streets of Tokyo to hit on girls between oversleeping and evading his sister. While there, Kenichi meets Mayumi, the only young woman who doesn’t shut down his awkward advances. When Kenichi takes Mayumi for coffee, he gets more than he bargained for when a man shows up and beats him in front of everyone. That same night, Haruko heads to the store and finds a beaten Kenichi laying in the street.

With a meet-cute that serves as the first official meeting despite the two crossing paths beforehand, Haruko falls in love at first sight — despite Kenichi already being smitten with Mayumi. After picking up his school identification card, Harko realizes that this is the fairytale love she’s been dreaming of. But through a series of unfortunate events, including an awkward meeting at Kenichi’s house and seeing Kenichi kissing Mayumi at a party where she had hoped to tell him her feelings, this coming-of-age story becomes less about a romance between two individuals and more about how the two navigate thier first loves (even when its not each other) and more. While Haruko has to cope with her life’s downward spiral, Kenichi has to steady his own. But while he may have crushed Haruko’s heart, his own is in the balance when Mayumi tells him she’s a sex worker.

Adapting a film from a manga published in the 1980s isn’t an easy feat. This is because the screenwriter and director often have the uphill battle of updating a work, its tropes, and its settings along the way. Sometimes the result is a timeless film like Tezuka’s Barabara  and other times you get a film like Georama Boy Panorama Girl that easily brings the story’s characters to a contemporay setting with was by focusing on large themes and small moments that work in a new time. Set against the backdrop of Tokyo in the midst of a pre-Olympic transformation, Georama Boy Panorama Girl feels anything but dated. It’s awkward and sober and does a lot of work to drop you into the protagonists lives as empathetic viewers. This is moved by the close-ups we get of both Haruko and Kenichi, but most importantly the power both actors have portraying their respective characters in their most vulnerable and their most joyous moments.

That said, Yamada as Haruko is a force to be reckoned with. She’s emotional and vibrant but also secretive and timid. She contains multitudes in the way most teenage girls do, filled with dreams and spite. But more importantly, she grows over the course of the film. She moves from wide-eyed romantic to a slightly cynical yet self-reliant character. There is a point in the last act where she snaps. Where she stops holding her emotions in check and together, and instead just screams. It’s a scene that may seem small, but in fact, carries a lot of impact for Haruko’s trajectory.

Overall, Georama Boy Panorama Girl is a complicated watch. It’s emotive and vulnerable and messy and awkward. In fact, it’s a lot like teenagers in that way. Maybe that’s what makes the film, and the performances within it, so special.

Georama Boy Panorama Girl is screening at the Fantasia International Film Festival.

 

Georama Boy Panorama Girl
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Overall, Georama Boy Panorama Girl is a complicated watch. It’s emotive and vulnerable and messy and awkward. In fact, it’s a lot like teenagers in that way. Maybe that’s what makes the film, and the performances within it, so special.