Masaya Ozaki is a well-rounded scriptwriter. His first writing credit dates back to 1995. However, it is in 2010 that he added director to his skillset. His first work as a writer/director was “Randebû!”. “Her Sketchbook” is his second feature. His impressive background is perhaps why the film is well-written and has a nice pace.

Her Sketchbook” is screening as part of The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme

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Mami Konuma, twenty-something, works in a factory, is clumsy, seems to live in her own world, and – greatest sign of social inadequacy- she really likes mangas. After leaving her job at the factory, her worried father finds her a job as a video game tester. One day, as she is eating in the staircase, she overhears Yabe, who is part of the production team and needs a drawing to be revised. Without thinking too much, she becomes a Secret Revision Savior (basically, her and Batman are the same when it comes to saving people) for the young man. Her stepping out of her comfort zone will broaden her horizons, soothe some old wounds and help her to be more assertive.

Mami is an attaching character, well-supported by actress Mugi Kadowaki. She is seen by others as a ‘shut-in who reintegrates society’. But the story shows up a slightly more complex person. She is shy, doesn’t really know how to bond but does try, and she doesn’t have a lot of self-confidence (which finds a rough explanation in the absent mother). Mami does think of herself as a ’shut-in and a loser’ (her words, not mine). And it is when she meets people who stop treating her as such and embrace her creative mind that her life can evolve for a seemingly better.

“Her Sketchbook” is interesting in that it blends indie vibes (natural lighting, very few close-ups), but also fairytale aspects (with the ending, for example) and mangas’ influence (with the almost-interactive way to display her drawing). This last point allows a really smart and fun way to introduce her drawings, flashbacks, etc. However, the downside of the manga-esque aspect of the film is an acting sometimes over the top from the supporting characters.

“Her Sketchbook” is visually appealing, entertaining, and although a bit cliché, it leaves you with a reassuring feeling, or what I would call a hot-chocolate-and-cosy-blanket-feeling.