Review: 'Tornado Girl' is funny if you're fine with abusive relationships

Marcus Goh
Contributor
Tornado Girl (Encore Films)

Secret ending? No.

Running time: 100 min (~1.75 hours)

Tornado Girl (Encore Films)

“Tornado Girl” is a Japanese romantic comedy that’s an adaptation of the manga “A Boy Who Wished to be Okuda Tamio And A Girl Who Drove All Men Crazy”. It is not related to the Chinese drama series “Whirlwind Girl” that is sometimes also translated as the same title.

The film revolves around the main character’s efforts to woo the eponymous “Tornado Girl”, who seems irresistible to all men. However, there’s more to this romance than meets the eye, and there’s a reason why she’s described as such. The question is — will this romance have a happy ending?

“Tornado Girl” is directed by Hitoshi One. It stars Satoshi Tsumabuki (Yuji Koroki) and Kiko Mizuhara (Akari Amami). It is rated PG13.

“Tornado Girl” is in the vein of “My Sassy Girl” and “My New Sassy Girl”. If you like this genre, then you’ll love the film, but otherwise it essentially depicts an abusive relationship that is played up for laughs. If the roles of the male and female characters were reversed, feminist groups would be up in arms over this film. However, since the male character is the one being abused, it’s supposed to be funny.

Tornado Girl (Encore Films)

Highlights

Koroki is fairly genuine and relatable

Koroki is a fairly identifiable depiction of a lovelorn individual who tries his hardest to please the lady he is after. Unlike similar protagonists though, he’s not explicitly a loser — he’s shown to be competent and confident in other areas of his life, just not when it comes to the romantic arena. He’s quite a likeable protagonist.

Voiceover thoughts are adorable

While voiceovers are often used as a cinematic device to fill in narrative gaps, the voiceovers in “Tornado Girl” actually enhance the characterisation of Koroki. It allows us to see his thoughts in a way that would otherwise be challenging to depict, and are quite adorable, to an extent. You don’t feel like they’re out of place, and they’re used skilfully here.

Tornado Girl (Encore Films)

Letdowns

The Tornado Girl is a disgustingly irritating character

Akari exemplifies all the negative traits of a lover from hell, even from the get-go. Yet for some unfathomable reason, she’s the object of every male’s desire. The problem is that her attractiveness is mainly described and mentioned in dialogue, but the character lacks any sort of charisma. She’s pretty, no doubt, but if beauty is the only trait that has all the men going crazy over her, then it’s a matter of carnal lust rather than romantic love.

Key scenes lack subtitles

Texting plays an important role in the film, and it’s laudable that “Tornado Girl” acknowledges the ubiquitousness of mobile devices in today’s relationships. Unfortunately, not all the text messages are subtitled, so if you can’t read Japanese, you’re basically looking at a screen full of indecipherable text. The assumption that all viewers would have some knowledge of Japanese is not a good one to make.

Pacing is slow

As the title and the first few appearances of Akari will reveal, there’s more to this Tornado Girl than just a pretty, desirable charmer. The problem is that the audience realises this long before the main character does, which means we’re all just waiting for Koroki to wisen up to her wiles. Effectively, nothing new happens for most of the film, and the ostensible humour comes from abusive behaviour framed in a “funny” way.

Premise and logic are questionable

The tremendous amount of disrespect shown at the workplace is rather egregious. It’s virtually impossible, especially in an Asian context, to see such mistreatment between employees and employers. But we repeatedly see ludicrous situations which defy belief to such an extent that you wonder what sort of world this is.

Tornado Girl (Encore Films)

“Tornado Girl” has an admirable protagonist, but an immensely annoying love interest that puts you off the minute she appears on screen. You’ll end up feeling sorry for the main character, but at least the ending has some spark of originality to it.

Should you watch this if it’s free? Yes.

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? If you like the “My Sassy Girl” genre of films. 

Score: 2.8/5

“Tornado Girl” opens in cinemas:
– 26 October, 2017 (Singapore)

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter, having written for “Police & Thief”, “Incredible Tales”, “Crimewatch”, and “Point of Entry”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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