Shunji Iwai’s April Story tells the tale of Nireno Uzuki (Takako Matsu) who leaves home in Hokkaido for University in Tokyo. The story leads to a singular question: Why?
The low contrast yet colourful look of the film allowed it an extremely reminiscent outlook. Perhaps Iwai knew that he was creating a piece of work that could stretch the test of time. One might visit April Story at any juncture of their lives and wonder what their motivations and hopes were in the time for youth. The soundtrack for the film was intimately mesmerizing, contrasting to the cold silence of seclusion when Nireno is lonely.
Nireno would be asked out by a classmate or scheduled for club activities but she would concoct a false reason or simply refuse to state an excuse for her absence. Throughout April Story, Nireno shows only her cryptic nature that tingles the curiosity of an audience and it reiterates the question of “why?”
In contrast to Osamu Dazai’s novel, School girl, which quickly launches the reader into the head of an adolescent, April Story is a visual treatment that asks of an audience to accompany an insecure Nireno before we get a chance at her thoughts towards the final third of the film. In essence, the “why?” question that beckoned throughout the film requires an audience’s patience and trust before getting to know the real Nireno.
Interestingly, the edit of the film is also done by Iwai who opted for plenty of straight cuts on the same shot. Perhaps, this technique was used to keep the pace Nireno’s journey without being obsessively indulgent about staying true to the realism of space and time in the film’s universe. April Story runs a little over an hour and Iwai could have simply wallowed into stretching the length of the edit. Rather, the straight cuts that he had made suggested that it was a deliberate move to construct a very delicate pace.
Instead of indulging in a classical narrative, April Story focuses on Nireno’s experience and uses it as the focal point of the story. Its structure geared towards that of a novel which holds weight and promise in the final chapters of its narrative.