I should have known it was going to be a challenge. The simplest of requests were often the most easily thwarted in Japan.
My boyfriend and I, if you could call him that since we lived approximately 5566 kilometers and ten time zones apart, were going through a very rough patch of daily and nightly sturm and drang phone calls during which I repeatedly vowed never to speak to him again, vows which were broken as soon as yet another rejoinder just begging me to pick up the phone and sock him with came into my mind.
There was only one thing I could do. Rent It, and rent It fast.
You know what It is. You’ve had a relationship crisis or break up and rented It too, then popped a big bowl of popcorn in and put the soon-to-be-insufficiently-large-enough Costco economy-size box of Kleenex on the end table for that bittersweet ending you know is coming. You turned the cell phone off, pulled the shades, curled up on the sofa in your most comfy jammies and clicked Play. Then you, too, pretended that you were Katie, a free spirit much too challenging to be truly appreciated, and he was Hubbell, a good man looking for someone easier (i.e., less interesting) than you. Carrie did It with Mr. Big; I’d have Scarlett do It with Rhett if I were to write the sequel. I headed to the video store.
Japanese video stores are Blockbuster writ Japanese: racks and racks, and then more racks, of anime; a slew of mainstream Japanese flicks with a few Kurosawa scattered throughout for good measure; a corner devoted to porno with the body parts scratched out of focus in even the anime ones; and then Hollywood’s offerings arranged by category, Comedy, Drama, Horror, SF, Love Story, with Action by far the most dominant. Some are grouped by actor, with Audrey Hepburn, Tom Hanks, and Meg Ryan getting their own sections; but never by director, which would be my preference.
Figuring even the Japanese wouldn’t consider It to be action packed, I blew off the Arnie section. But is It a Drama or Love Story? “Hmmm, It doesn’t have a boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl ride off into the sunset in each other’s arms Hollywood ending, so maybe It’s a Drama,” I reasoned, and headed in that direction, then stopped, and thought It through some more. “Yeah, sure, Katie and Hubbell got divorced, but he didn’t angrily pushed her hand away from his forehead as she brushed that lock of hair from his eyes in that last scene, so maybe It’s a Love Story,” I countered. “Besides, am I not constantly bombarded by unrequited love yearnings on the radio at the gym?” Japanese pop music is replete with half Japanese-half English bobby-soxer bromides, like “Wakaretemo, I rabu yuu!” (Even though we broke up, I love you!), or “Furaretemo, Sannii Dai!” (Even though you dumped me, Sunny Day!) Convinced, I backtracked to the Love Story section and started my search in earnest.
I never did suss out how the Japanese arrange movies once they’ve been categorized. I started by scanning the Love Story section, hoping I’d quickly scope out Katie and Hubbell’s picture on the side of a video and make off with my booty.