Socrates in Love, also known as Crying Out Love, In the Center of the World (世界の中心で、愛をさけぶ Sekai no Chūshin de, Ai o Sakebu?) is a Japanese novel written by Kyoichi Katayama. It was published by Shogakukan in April 2001. The novel and the manga adaptation (illustrated by Kazumi Kazui) are published in the United States by VIZ Media under the title Socrates in Love. In 2005, the film was remade as My Girl and I in South Korea and the Korean remake aired on August 26, 2006 in Japan. The Japanese title of the Korean film is You are the Center of my World (僕の、世界の中心は、君だ Boku no, Sekai no Chūshin wa, Kimi da).
When initially released only 8,000 copies of the book were printed. A year after its publication, Japanese celebrity Kou Shibasaki wrote an article according it high praise: "I read it thoroughly even though it made me cry. I wished to have a relationship as such in my life." The book instantly became a bestseller. By May 2004 over 3 million copies were sold, exceeding the sales record of Norwegian Wood, previous record keeper of the biggest issue in Japan since 1987. In 2004, a movie derived from the novel was presented, and Shibasaki acted in it.
In a small regional town in 1980s southern Japan, Sakutaro "Saku" Matsumoto and Aki Hirose, who were classmates all through junior high school, become high school students and then fall in love with one another. They share audio diaries, go on excursions together, and enjoy summer vacation.
However, Aki soon finds herself suffering from Leukemia and begins to weaken day by day, rendering her unable to see Saku or go outside. Saku, desperate to take Aki to Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia (the "Center of the World" in the Japanese title), a place she had wished to go to, desperately tries to achieve just that. Saku buys tickets to go, but Aki dies before boarding the plane.
Seventeen years later, as an older, sombre Saku trudges through everyday existence, the last tape of Aki's audio diary is suddenly unearthed, leading Saku back to his hometown in the south, and back into his memories of his last days with Aki.
- Sakutaro "Saku" Matsumoto (松本朔太郎 Matsumoto Sakutarō, サク "Saku") - Called "Saku-chan" by Aki. Saku's name derives from that of the Japanese poet Sakutaro Hagiwara.
- Aki Hirose (廣瀬亜紀 Hirose Aki, アキ "Aki") - Saku's classmate and later girlfriend. Suffers from leukemia.
- Ryunosuke Oki (大木龍之介 Ōki Ryūnosuke) - Saku and Aki's classmate. His name is derived from that of the Japanese writer Ryūnosuke Akutagawa.
- Kentaro Matsumoto (松本謙太郎 Matsumoto Kentarō) - Saku's grandfather.
About the title
The book's title bears a resemblance to that of the science fiction short story by Harlan Ellison, "The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World".
The English title originates from the original Japanese title, Socrates in Love (恋するソクラテス Koi Suru Sokuratesu), originally chosen by Katayama. This is why the English version of the manga and the novel use this title instead of the lengthy "Crying Out Love in the Center of the World".
In Japan, the movie's title (Sekai no Chūshin de, Ai o Sakebu) is often commonly abbreviated as Sekachū (セカチュー)
The Hong Kong English version of the film is entitled Crying Out Love, In the Center of the World.
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The popularity of Socrates in Love is generally high because it's taken up in much Japanese media, but has received much criticism from pure movie fans and literature fans. Originally, the novel version was often subjected to harsh criticism likely because it was published during the so-called "Pure love boom", a media trend in which many written and film works made and shown in Japan portrayed chaste, undying love professed by the romantic lead(s). The Korean drama Winter Sonata is an example of this trend.
The writing is often commented as being amateur, probably intended to refer to the novel's use of simple vocabulary and generally easier level of reading. It is sometimes considered a prime example of a book that is received well by the masses but whose writing is not necessarily on a professional level.
In the movie version, an adult Sakutaro, reflecting on his relationship with Aki, plays an important role. The original story unfolds through his memories. The film opened in wide release in Japan on May 8, 2004, and brought Masami Nagasawa recognition as an actress. The film was a huge success, and its theme song, Hitomi o Tojite by Ken Hirai had record sales as well.
Ritsuko Fujimura, who appeared in the film and novel but is never named, is Saku's youthful fiance and last people who sees Aki with life. Even in this film-only situation, however, Saku still isn't able to let Aki go, causing tension in his and Ritsuko's relationship.
- Film director & scenario - Isao Yukisada
- Scenario - Yuji Sakamoto, Chihiro Ito
- Filming - Noboru Shinoda
- Music - Meina Co.
- Theme songs - Hitomi wo Tojite (瞳をとじて) by Ken Hirai
- Episode songs - Someday by Motoharu Sano, Kimi ni Aete (きみに会えて) by Misato Watanabe
- Sakutaro "Saku" Matsumoto - Mirai Moriyama/ Takao Osawa
- Aki Hirose - Masami Nagasawa
- Ritsuko Fujimura - Kou Shibasaki/ (Girlhood) Rio Kanno
- Uncle Shige - Tsutomu Yamazaki
- Ryunosuke Oki - Kankuro Kudo/ (High school days) Issei Takahashi
- Johnny - Kanji Tsuda
- Radio's DJ - Misato Watanabe
- Aki's father - Tetta Sugimoto
- Sakutaro's superior - Yuki Amami
- Sakutaro's mother Midori Kiuchi
- Ritsuko (Girlhood)'s mother - Misato Tanaka
- Film director - Yoshimitsu Morita
- English teacher - Dandy Sakano
- Filming location
- Aji, Kagawa
- Mure, Kagawa
- Konan, Kagawa
- Takamatsu Airport
- Sanuki, Kagawa
- Marugame, Kagawa
- Matsuyama, Ehime
- Ōzu, Ehime
- Masaki, Ehime
- Alice Springs, Northern Territory
Like the movie, the drama also has an original character that doesn't appear in the novel - Aki Kobayashi, a friend of the older Sakutaro, who likes him and whom he struggles to not simply take as a replacement, although her own young son already views him as a father figure.
The drama's theme song, Katachi Aru Mono, is notable for having been written and performed by Kou Shibasaki, the actress who portrayed Ritsuko Fujimura in the film adaption.
- Script - Yoshiko Morishita
- Filming - Satoru Karasawa
- Direction - Yukihiko Tsutsumi, Yasuharu Ishii, Yuichiro Hirakawa
- Producer - Akihiko Ishimaru
- Theme songs - Katachi Aru Mono (かたちあるもの) by Kou Shibasaki
- Sakutaro "Saku" Matsumoto (Age 17) - Takayuki Yamada
- Aki Hirose - Haruka Ayase
- Sakutaro "Saku" Matsumoto (Age 34) - Naoto Ogata
- Aki Kobayashi (Saku's Friend) - Sachiko Sakurai
- Ryunosuke Ooki (Saku's friend) - Koutaro Tanaka
- Akiyoshi Nakagawa (Saku's friend) - Tasuku Emoto
- Tomoyo Ueda (Aki Hirose's Friend) - Yuika Motokariya
- Fumiko Matsumoto (Saku's sister) - Kaho
- Toshimi Yatabe (Saku & Aki's teacher) - Yuki Matsushita
- Junichiro Matsumoto (Saku's Father) - Katsumi Takahashi
- Tomiko Matsumoto (Saku's Mother) - Satoko Oshima
- Kentaro Matsumoto (Saku's Grandfather) - Tatsuya Nakadai
- Makoto Hirose (Aki's Father, Architect) - Tomokazu Miura
- Ayako Hirose (Aki's Mother) - Satomi Tezuka
Barbara Zitwer: US literary agent for Socrates in Love
- Sekai no chūshin de, ai o sakebu at the Internet Movie Database
- DramaWiki Entry
- Movie's site Japanese site (Japanese)
- Drama's site by TBS Japanese site (Japanese)