Strange Stories of Liao Zhai - The Land of Lan Ruo (2020) - full transcript

Until I entered high school two
months ago, I didn't know...

The dampness of my uniform's hem,
soaked by someone else's umbrella...

The smell of mothballs,
clinging to someone's suit...

The warm body pressed up against my back...

The cool breeze of the air
conditioner against my face...

Shinjuku... Shinjuku station...

Thank you for riding with us.

When I was little, the sky was closer...
Much, much closer.

That's why I like the rain, since
with it comes the smell of the sky.

And often, on rainy mornings,
instead of transferring

to the subway, I exit
out the station gates.


Chocolate and... beer?

But I think I've seen her somewhere...


Thank you.

Um... have we met before?


I'm sorry, my mistake.

It's okay.

Maybe it's fitting...

A faint clap of thunder.

Clouded skies.

Perhaps rain comes.

If so, will you stay here with me?

The Garden of Words.

This morning, the JMA has
declared the start of the

rainy season in Kyushu, five
days earlier than average.

Nagasaki, Saga,
Kumamoto, and Kagoshima

prefectures expect strong
rains over a wide area.

I'm home.

Welcome home.

I bought croquettes.

Great. Dinner will be ready soon.


Where's Ma?

Ran out.

Lucky us, we get all the
croquettes to ourselves.

She left a letter saying
not to go looking for her.

But maybe...

Leave her be.

I'm sure she'll be back after
fighting with her boyfriend.

I've picked out a place.
I'll be leaving next month.

Living alone?

With my girlfriend.

Don't think that's why Mom ran out?

You told her yesterday, right?

I wish she could just let
her children go, you know?

She's the one who's making the
rounds dating younger men.

Oh, yeah? Well then I'm gonna
go live with my boyfriend!

She's got those youthful looks, after all.

That's 'cause she's never worked
hard her a day in her life.

You're the one who's
been piling on the years.

All done.

You do the dishes. I've aged enough.

Won't you be glad to have more space?

Suppose so.

Help me move, 'kay?


Hey, have you heard of this?

What's this, a haiku? ♪Haiku, 17-mora poem,
usu. In 3 lines of 5, 7 and 5 morae.

It's a tanka.
♪ Tanka, 31-mora Japanese poem.

As if.

Ask Ma when she gets back.

On sunny mornings, I transfer to the subway
and head here, like I'm supposed to.

But I think to myself "This isn't
what I should be doing right now."





No school today?

And your office... Closed today?

I'm skipping work again.

And drinking beer in
the park in the morning.

Drinking beer alone
isn't good for your health.

You need to eat something with it.

You know a lot for a high schooler.

It's not me. My mom's the drinker.

I've got snack food.

Want some?

You just thought to yourself "This
woman's a freak," didn't you?

No, I...

It's okay. We're human, after all.

We've all got our little quirks.



Okay, it's about time for me to go.

Heading to school now?

I've decided to only skip
school on rainy mornings.

Well, we might see each other again.

Maybe when it's raining.

It was the first day of
Kanto's rainy season.

A shoemaker?

I know it seems out of touch,

but I enjoy creating
designs and making shoes.

Of course, I'm still terrible at it.

Of course...

But despite it all, I want to
make it my career... if I can.

I've never told anyone this before.

Do you have any idea how late you are?

You know why I've called you here, right?


Evenings, before I went to sleep...

Mornings, in the moment I woke up...

I realized I was praying for rain.

I realized that on sunny days, I
was in a terrible, childish place,

with nothing but impatience.

She exists in a world of working
adults, so very far away from me.

To me, she represents nothing less
than the very secrets of the world.

Honestly, there are only
two things I know for sure.

One: She must think a 15-year-old
like me is just a little kid.

And two: Making shoes is the only thing
that will lead me away from here.

Please stay behind the
yellow line for your safety.

Please be careful of the closing doors.

Good morning.

I thought you might not come today.

It's a miracle you haven't been fired yet.

Wow! Is that a shoe design?


I can't see?

It's not something worth showing.


Yes, really!

Come on, sit down over there.

I'm going to eat breakfast.
Would you like to join me?

Thanks, but I brought my own.

You made it yourself?

What? I cook sometimes,
for your information.


Then let's make a trade.

Wait, I'm not really that good a...

cook, you know.

It's your own fault.

That's a side of you I didn't expect.


Sorry. But it's tasty in its own way.

It's got bite.

Don't patronize me.

Can I have another?

Hurry up!

Wait, bro!

Takao, be careful.

Happy birthday, Mom!

Thank you.

What could the three of you have gotten me?


Do you think it's too late for me?

And you know what? I
could actually taste the food.

So your taste disorder has improved?

I wouldn't go that far.

But just a little while ago, all I
could taste was alcohol and chocolate.

I think you deciding to just
quit was really for the best.

Maybe so.

You speak to me so gently,

like you're touching something fragile.

But back then, when I
found it hard to even breathe,

you only listened to the voices around you.

You didn't believe me.

Then we'll start the paperwork for
you leaving after the holiday.

I'll notify the higher-ups.

Okay. Sorry to cause you all this
trouble even after we split up.

I'm glad, really...

About that old woman you met.

You know, the one you keep talking about
who brings her lunch box to the park.

It seems like you've really struck a chord.

Yeah, get some rest.

Mr. Itou Mr. Itou.

Ever since then,

I've been

nothing but lies.


It's raining again today in Kanto.

Here at Shinjuku Station's south exit, the
commuters all have umbrellas in their hands.


Here, this is for you.

For me?

I've always ended up
eating your food, see...

And you said you wanted it, right?

This book isn't cheap.

Thank you... very much.

It's my pleasure.


I'm actually making a
pair of shoes right now.

Wow... A pair for yourself?

I haven't decided who they're for yet...

They're women's shoes.

But I haven't been able
to get them right, and...

You know...

before I knew it, I wasn't
able to walk properly anymore.

Are you talking about your job?


About a lot of things.

I don't know anything about her.

Her job, her age... what
worries she carries...

Not even her name.

And yet I can't help but be charmed by her.

The rainy season is officially over ten
days later than normal in the Kanto region.

The current temperature
in the city is 26 degrees.

Like someone just flicked a switch, the
sunny days came one after another.

Oh sure, now I think to myself "I'm glad
that he's not skipping class anymore."

But in reality...

I wish the rainy season

had never ended.

This park sure is big.

I can't believe we're in Shinjuku.

Oh, pardon us.

Go ahead.

This is the Japanese gardens, right?

Where should we go next?

Isn't there a greenhouse?
Let's check it out.

Yeah, let's.

It's like a totally different
place on sunny days.

Thanks for the help.

Hey, why don't you eat
dinner with us, Takao?

Sorry, but I've got my part-time job today.

This late?

And I don't want to impose.

The opposite! I'm going to be living with
him from now on, so just this once...

I can hear you.

Well then, see you later.

He's a cute kid.

Did you notice his shoes?

They're handmade.

What? Seriously?

Just some ugly moccasins, though.

He's got a bright future, doesn't he?

I wonder if he'd make shoes for me?

Who knows? Teenagers'
interests change on a whim...

My brother moved out, and
the rainless days continued.

I had no excuse to head to that place.

And then, it was summer vacation.


I worked part-time almost
every day over the summer.

Hmm, maybe chicken with cashew nuts?

Looks good to me.

We'll order it.

I wanted to earn what I could for
tuition to a vocational school.

Tools and leather cost money too.

Sure, I missed her, but...

I think it's clinging to those feelings
that's keeping me a little kid.

That's why I've decided to make shoes that
will make her want to get up and walk.

What will the weather be like tomorrow?

I'm twenty-seven, but I don't feel any
smarter than I did twelve years ago.

I've always been here,
stuck in the same place.


It's just like Tsukishima to have
got that confused for a week!

English class is no big deal.

That's cause Kiso's a pushover.


Hey, long time no see.

Looks like you guys got a tan.

Yeah, we went to the beach a bunch.

You're still as pale as ever.

What'd you do over summer break?

Worked the whole time.

The whole time?

That's a lonely way to
spend your high school days.

School, job, chores. School, job, chores.

I skip school sometimes!

Now that you mention it,
you are late a lot, Akizuki.

Yep, this guy never shows up
for 1st period when it rains.

I've got a condition where I can't
ride the subway on rainy mornings.

Whatever, weirdo.

Teacher's Office.

Ms. Yukino?

Ms. Yukino!


Ms. Yukino...

Satou, save it for later.

Ms. Yukino!

Same goes for the rest of you.

I'm sorry, everyone.

I'll be here until after 5th period.
After that, I'd be happy to.

Yukino came to school?

You didn't hear about her quittin'?

No. I didn't even know who she is.

You have old man Takehara for lit, right?

Yukino was always having trouble
with the third-year girls.

Yeah, but Ms. Yukino
didn't do anything wrong.

Someone's boyfriend fell for Ms. Yukino,

and as payback everyone in the
class treated her terribly.

They spread so many rumors even
her parents heard about them.

It went so far she couldn't
come to school anymore.

Yukino's just too kind.

She should've brought
it straight to the police.

We told Mr. Itou over and over!

But he didn't want to make a
mess for the school in public.

Hey, what's the matter?

Those upperclassmen...

Do you know their names?

Ms. Yukino!

He totally sucks at it.

You're so cruel.

But man, you sure go through 'em.

What do you want, frosh?

Are you the third year, Aizawa?

An admirer?

Who the hell are you?

It seems like Ms. Yukino is quitting.


Like I care about what
happens to that slutty hag.

Who does this guy think he is?

Huh? What's this?

What's your deal?

Let's go tell a teacher...

Never seen this kid before.

Who are you?

Fallen for that old hag?

What a creep! Does he
even know how old she is?

Poor guy. She must've tricked him.

She might go for him now, though.

Since she ain't a teacher no more.

Damn straight.

You should thank us.

I'm waiting for the rain.

A faint clap of thunder.

Even if rain comes not.

I will stay here.

Together with you.

Yes, that's the correct answer.

That's the right response to the
tanka I told you when we first met.

If it rains, I wonder if
you will be staying here?

In response to that verse, I answer...

Even if it doesn't rain, I will be here.

It was in the classic
Japanese literature textbook.

Ms. Yukino...

I'm sorry...

I thought you would realize I was
a classic literature teacher.

I mean, everyone at school knows about me.

But you're always off in your
own little world, aren't you?

Hey, what happened to your face?

I was acting like you
and drank too much beer.

Then I tripped and fell on
the Yamanote line platform.

Oh, my!

Just kidding.

I got in a fight, that's all.

Look... It looks like we
just swam across the river.

I think this might...

this might be...

the happiest...

time of my life.



I think I've fallen in love with you.

Not Yukino.

Ms. Yukino, remember?

I'm going to be moving next week.

Back to my hometown in Shikoku.

I made the decision a while back.

I was practicing how to walk on
my own, there in that place.

Even if I'm barefoot...

So then...

So I want to thank you
for everything, Akizuki.

Um, thank you for lending me these clothes.

I'll get changed now.

But yours aren't...

Excuse me...

I'm going home.

Thank you for your hospitality.

I made this lunch for
myself, but I made too much.

So if you'd like...

I haven't decided who they're for yet...

They're women's shoes.

I was acting like you
and drank too much beer.

Then I tripped and fell on
the Yamanote line platform.

A faint clap of thunder.

Even if rain comes not.

I will stay here.

Together with you.



please forget what I said earlier.

I was wrong... I hate you after all.

Ever since we first met, you struck me...

like a person I should avoid.

Drinking beer in the morning, spouting
off some random tanka at me...

All day long you listen
to other people talking,

yet never say a peep about yourself...

You knew I was a student, didn't you?

That's completely unfair!

If I'd known you were a teacher, I
would've never told you about the shoes.

After all, you think I'll
never amount to anything!

So why didn't you say anything to me?

You thought maybe you'd humor the
little kid's fantasies for a while?

Tell me I'll never live
up to my expectations!

Tell me I'll never measure up to my dreams!

You knew from the very beginning!

So tell me, god damn it!

Tell me I'm in your way!

Tell me that little kids
should run along to school!

Tell me that you hate me!


You're always like that.

You never say what's important,

pretending that it's not your
problem and live on like that

all alone!

Every morning!

Every morning I put on
my suit to go to school...

But I was scared...

I just couldn't go...

In that place...



saved me!

♪ I lived on with feelings frozen. ♪

♪ Never expressed in words. ♪

♪ And I clumsily held you in
my arms on a rainy night. ♪

♪ Street flyers and broken lamps. ♪

♪ Everybody was rushing back and forth. ♪

♪ It's not you but me who is to blame. ♪

♪ I couldn't hide my own impulsiveness. ♪

♪ Lady, you started running
through a deserted station. ♪

♪ Unconcerned about getting
soaked from the pouring rain. ♪

♪ The sight of you splashing
through puddles disappears. ♪

♪ Morning comes quicker
in the back alleys. ♪

♪ So I have to get hold of you now. ♪

♪ To say, "Don't go away, don't go away". ♪

Summer ended, and it came time to
switch to our winter uniforms.

I got terrible grades on my finals.

I wasted who knows how many
pieces of expensive leather.

I worked part-time over
winter break as well.

And every time I added
a layer to my clothing,

I wondered to myself how she was doing.

♪ I don't have enough strength anymore. ♪

♪ To grab onto the sky
that's welled up with tears. ♪

♪ You're strong enough not to feel ♪
♪ hurt because of my unchanging heart. ♪

♪ Lady, all wet from the rain, you ♪
♪ looked into my eyes for a moment. ♪

♪ Unconcerned about getting
soaked from the pouring rain. ♪

♪ Whistling, I walk after you. ♪

♪ Even though I came to know a side ♪
♪ of you I wasn't interested in. ♪

♪ Just like the night we first fought. ♪

♪ I say, "Don't go away, don't go away". ♪

♪ When I head out the gates and ♪
♪ my shirt's shoulders are dry. ♪

♪ It no longer rains much in your town. ♪

♪ Only today continues into tomorrow. ♪

♪ That's how you and I can never end. ♪

♪ Lady, even now you still. ♪

♪ Don't even open up a little umbrella. ♪

♪ Unconcerned about getting
soaked from the pouring rain. ♪

♪ The sight of you splashing
through puddles disappears. ♪

♪ Morning comes quicker in the back alleys, ♪
♪ so I have to get hold of you now. ♪

♪ To say, "Don't go away, don't go away". ♪

♪ Unconcerned about getting
soaked from the pouring rain. ♪

♪ Whistling, I walk after you. ♪

♪ Even though I came to know a side ♪
♪ of you I wasn't interested in. ♪

♪ Just like the night we first fought. ♪

♪ I say, "Don't go away, don't go away". ♪

This letter has gotten quite long without me
even realizing it. Thanks so much for reading it all.

I hope you're doing well, Akizuki. I hope
the warm days of spring come soon. Yukari Yukino.

I was practicing how to walk too.

That's what I think now.

One day, when I can walk
much farther on my own...

I'll go see her.