Drawing Closer (2024) J-Movie Review – Sweet & Sad, It’s Worth the Tissues

Sad and Sweet Drawing Closer is Worth the Tissues

Streaming now on Netflix, Drawing Closer is a precious weepy worth your tears. This high school romance between terminally ill teens will get you at any age. Akito is a talented artist, gearing up to enter a future-paving art competition when he learns of his terminal illness. On the day he’s given his diagnosis of one year, he meets Haruna who’s got only six months to live. Inspired by her strength, he puts his illness aside to befriend her. As his attraction grows, he wonders whether he can or should fall in love when there’s a time limit.

During the time they have left and hiding his own illness, Akito hopes to fulfill some of Haruna’s unnamed dreams, such as reconnecting her with a childhood friend. Ayaka and Haruna had separated years ago over an argument that, with the help of Akito, they’re now able to mend. The pair then become Haruna’s daily visitors adding laughter and lightness to her once lonely room.

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Between the two, they arrange a ‘date’ for Haruna at the high school festival, fulfilling more wishes and giving her time with friends and fun. While Ayaka acts in a play meant to please Haruna, Akito stays by her side, a perfect gentleman. Haruna’s mother, also the hospital head nurse, worries that it’s too exhausting for her but with permission, Akito focuses on making the most of the day. They’re not sure exactly how many she has left.

Adapted from Ao Morita’s best-selling 2023 manga titled Yomei Ichinen to Senkoku Sareta Boku ga, Yomei Hantoshi no Kimi to Deatta Hanashi, translated: The story of how I, who was told I only had one year to live, met you, who only had half a year. Having drawn readers – even with a title that gives everything away – it continued to claim hearts selling over 450,000 copies.

J-pop singer Ren Nagase (Hold My Hand at Twilight, Alice in Wonderful Kitchen, The Last Man: The Blind Profiler) of King & Prince is Akito. Actress and model Natsuki Deguchi plays Haruna (Ao Haru Ride S2, Till We Meet Again on the Lily Hill). It’s directed by Takahiro Miki who is known for romantic dramas, including Even If This Love Disappears from the World Tonight (Netflix) and My Undead Yokai Girlfriend (Prime).

Soft pastels that match Haruna’s set of Faber-Castells color the entire film, gently carrying us through the sensitive topic and delicate feelings. It’s paired with lovely emotive music by composer Seiji Kameda, who previously worked with Director Miki on Even If This Love Disappears from the World Tonight.

At a press conference for the release this week, Nagase shared, “As the Japanese title says, this is a story about two people who have only a few days left to live. Two pure individuals, they’re driven only by their feelings of love and nothing else – simply the purity of love. I think viewers can feel it. Fair warning, there are some heavy scenes but please enjoy these two characters and I think you’ll finish on a happy note.”

He also confirmed this movie is his first on Netflix Worldwide. “I think it has a universal theme for anyone who has ever been in love, regardless of nationality, gender or age. Although it’s a story of two people with very little time left, it is also a positive love story about cherishing that time. The narrative really draws you in, so be careful about watching it on your phone – it will be too easy to miss your train or walk into oncoming traffic (laughs). Probably best to watch it at your leisure at home. As for Netflix, the platform is a familiar presence for me as well, so I’m happy to be on it for the first time as an actor and in a romance film.”

Romances are a story of two people and as Akito continues to spend time with the hospital-bound Haruna, she tries to point him toward other potential love-matches believing he’ll live on to carry out their joint aspiring artist dream. But there are moments where her heart shows, just as his does. Such as with the flowers he brings every week, knowing that six gerberas mean ‘I’m falling for you.’ And when she does die – there’s no getting around it – we see a glimpse of her feelings too in what she leaves behind.


Did you enjoy Drawing Closer? Curious about why it’s got so many fans when it gives it away in the title? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. For more from Ren Nagase, check what he has to say in the Drawing Closer preview story we posted in May.


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  • Verdict - 8.5/10

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