Oh, Takashi Miike. You psychotically prolific profferer of the bizarre and the extreme. The fact that you can do this without regard for genre or budget is something to be admired. From torture porn, to kids movies, to kaiju to musicals, you really do get to try a little bit of everything, don’t you? However, do you have to try doing all of it in one movie so often?
For Love’s Sake is Miike’s first musical since 2001’s Happiness of the Katakuris, but this time, instead of a loveable family of accidental murderers, the focus is on an odd sort of love triangle where none of the lyrics that the characters sing are directly related to the plot of the film. This would probably make it more of a movie with singing in it than a flat out musical, but when Miike is behind the camera, genre definitions have a tendency to go out the window. And while the absurdity of the musical segments and pure strangeness of the choreography start off as a good excuse for a chuckle, they never manage to tie any of what’s going on into a package that most film goers would describe as “coherent.”
The plot, such that it is, centers about Ai (Emi Takei), a teenaged girl so perfect she should be followed around by singing cartoon birds, and her obsession with Makoto (Satoshi Tsumabuki), the kid so bad he comes with a warning. Despite Makoto’s numerous rebukes, Ai remains convinced that he is her knight in shining armor and goes to increasingly self-damaging length to try to win his heart and rehabilitate him.
Following along for the ride is Hiroshi, whose crush on Ai matches her’s on Makoto, which causes him to act similarly brainlessly in his pursuit of true love. Throw in the worst technical school in all of Japan, a surly girl-gang leader named Gumko (Ito Ono), a 17 year old caught in a 45 year old’s body (Tsuyoshi Ihara) and a nerdy but mysterious girl (Takumi Saito) and you seem to have the makings of a good mad-cap exercise in ultra violence.
Unfortunately, the songs do much to slow down the action and the characters and situations are so familiar they really just seem pulled from Miike central casting. For someone who makes as many film as Miike does, he’s going to produce the odd dud, and For Love’s Sake is clearly one of them.