Featured Image courtesy of San Diego Asian Film Festival.

The 20th annual San Diego Asian FIlm Festival held the North American premiere of Director Akihiko Shiota’s latest film, “Farewell Song”.

Music group Haruleo head out for their final tour around Japan. There is a clear sense of tension between the main duo Haru (Mugi Kadowaki, “Close-Knit”) and Leo (Nana Komatsu, “After the Rain”) as they sit far away from each other in the vehicle of their managing roadie, Shima (Ryo Narita, “Your Name.”). The truth is that they have yet to announce the fact they plan to go their separate ways, but when crowds are thin within the first few days, they don’t mind having the “rumor” slip out. More people head catch their last chances of their performances, not knowing what brought Haruleo to make the decision to end their run as the group. 

When Brian Hu, artistic director of SDAFF, introduced the film on its first night, he mentioned its focus on the “music industry, fandom and expiration”. “Farewell Song” brought up the pressure the band got as they continued performing. It was interesting to see how each character transformed from their first meeting to the last day of the tour. While they moved forwards towards their final performance, the audience saw the events that led to their strained relationship. There are many aspects viewers may see themselves in whether it’s Haru unable to be open about her sexuality, Leo with bad habits, Shima being loyal to someone that cannot love you back or the young fans that find Haruleo songs bringing them closer to one another. Even with all of the complications that the trio encounter, the music showed how much they work well together as it slowly reveals the final version of their hit song. While the movie’s ending didn’t give a solid resolution in a clear way, there was a satisfying feeling of them moving on some of those past conflicts.

For those that find Haruleo’s songs, written by Aimyon and Motohiro Hata, stuck in their heads, Apple Music has their songs available for streaming. For more information on the film and the event, check out SDAFF’s website.