—novel by Leo Yoshida
Based loosely on the autobiographical novel by Leo Yoshida, Honokaa Boy tells the coming-of-age story of Leo, a Japanese college student, who, while on vacation with his girlfriend, falls in love with the sleepy Hawaii town of Honokaa. Six months since his initial visit, looking to find himself and no longer together with his tiresome girlfriend, Leo returns to Honokaa, taking a job as a projectionist at the local theater. While doing odd jobs, he quickly befriends the local community of quirky elderly Japanese residents, including porn-loving Koichi and the elderly confectioner and home gourmand Bee. He also keeps his eye on local beauty Mariah and her frequent fights with her boyfriend. During this seemingly directionless year abroad, Leo falls in and out of love and through heartbreak, reconciliation and loss, he sees the many faces of love and friendship and learns their true meaning. Filmed entirely in the scenic town of Honokaa on the north shore of the island of Hawaii, Honokaa Boy makes its premiere on the U.S. mainland at the 10th Annual DC APA Film Festival. — Sunbin Song—INTRODUCTION
Talent gravitated to the creation of the film version of Leo Yoshida’s “Honokaa Boy” as if drawn to a magnet. It was like a miracle. The screenplay was written by hit CM producer Takuma Takasaki. Food Coordinator Naomi Takayama added her gentle touch and delicious aroma to the set. Popular female photographer Orie Ichihashi provided the imagery, light as air. And Moichi Kuwahara, Takuji Aoyagi and Umitaro Abe transformed the mellow island breeze into music. And finally, the director, Atsushi Sanada, (Ne, Marimo (starring Aoi Miyazaki) short film in the omnibus All About My Dog) known both at home and abroad for his warmhearted, humorous commercials, rounded out the creative team.
The entire movie was shot in Honokaa -a small town on the north shore of the Big Island of Hawaii -with the help and cooperation of the mostly Japanese American locals.
Through the symbiosis of both fictional and real characters in actual Honokaa Town, a wonderfully warm, somehow Hawaiian movie version of Honokaa was born. “It’s like a fantasy film”... “like science fiction, with a nostalgic feel to it”... were some of the comments about the film. By the end of the six week shoot, they had blended in with the local scenery.
Starring in the film is the most sensational young talent of the year, Masaki Okada. His refreshing, gentle character is the embodiment of “Leo” as he comes into his own in the film. Opposite Okada is veteran actress Chieko Baisho, who fit the role of Bee so perfectly that the writer of the original work, Leo Yoshida, broke into tears and hugged her the minute he saw her. Keiko Matsuzaka plays the cute gourmand, Edeli, and homegrown Jun Hasegawa plays the local girl who Leo falls for. They are flanked by Koishi Kimi, Terue Shoji, Yu Aoi, and Eri Fukatsu, who come together to create an aura of familiarity to Honokaa. In the vast landscape of the Big Island where everything becomes one with the wind, the lines of the story and reality begin to blur...
Leo (Masaki Okada) is a young man with no sense of personal space. He comes to Hawaii because his girlfriend (Yu Aoi) wants to see a moonbow -a rainbow over the moon.
“Did you know that the island of Hawaii and the Hawaiian Islands are two different things?” she asks, exasperated.
She’s moody. He’s quiet. Their trip is awkward. He has a bad habit of clamming up when put on the spot...
6 months later, Leo finds himself living in Honokaa, a town they stumbled upon while driving around and getting lost on the Big Island. Life is full of surprises. He becomes an assistant to a movie projectionist in a small theater. Then one day, Leo meets the biggest prankster in town, an old lady named Bee（Chieko Baisho）. Their meeting leads to an invitation. “I’ll cook you dinner from now on”, says Bee. It was the beginning of everything.
Bee is happy to have Leo around. He has a good appetite and enjoys her cooking. He is almost like family -other than her cat. Their daily ritual is like sharing a secret language, drawing out a natural, charming side of Bee.
Then one day, Leo falls for a girl named Mariah, (Jun Hasegawa) a pretty local girl who is quick to laugh. Who would have known that her presence would trigger such dramatic consequences...?
Buzz (Chaz Mann)
Leo’s boss, the non-communicative movie projectionist.
He’s a man of few words, but also sweet and big-hearted.
He’s also big-bodied. And clumsy.
James (Tom Suzuki)
A living fossil. The oldest man in Honokaa is also the popcorn vendor
at Edeli’s movie theater. Part of his charm is the time lag in his conversations.
Koichi (Koishi Kimi)
Leo’s friend who is always sitting on the curb thumbing through Japanese porn magazines. Leo digs Koichi’s idle, yet cool banter.
Chako (Eri Fukatsu)
The “annoying” heroine of Bee’s favorite daytime soap.
She’s unlucky in love and always clinging to “loser” guys.
Mizue (Terue Shoji)
The owner of the local barber shop. Her haircuts depend on her mood.
Notorious for uneven sideburns, sometimes by as much as 3 centimeters.
The creator of the “Honokaa Boy Cut” (self proclaimed)
Edeli (Keiko Matsuzaka)
The biggest gourmand in Honokaa and the owner of the local movie theater.
She’s kindhearted, always cheerful and crazy about Hawaii -- thus, she married Buzz and settled in Honokaa. A good friend and confidante of Leo.
Kaoru (Yu Aoi)
Leo’s girlfriend who drags him to the Big Island, only to end up in a fight.
A modern girl who can’t live without her cell phone. She’s amazed that the island of Hawaii and the Hawaiian Islands are two different things.
Tom (Leo Yoshida)
Mariah’s unemployed boyfriend who’s always hot and cold.
Why are girls always attracted to these types??
Leo ( Masaki Okada)
A sensitive young man who finds work in the projection room of a theater in Honokaa.
He tries hard not to hurt anyone, so he doesn’t get hurt himself, but it’s never that easy.
He’s a good boy whose awkwardness is endearing. Something about him appeals to Bee.
Bee (Chieko Baisho)
The biggest prankster in Honokaa, and also the best cook. But she only cooks for people she likes. Her famous malasadas are on sale at Edeli’s movie theater.
Mariah (Jun Hasegawa)
A pure, light-hearted local girl who works at an organic food shop. She knows what she likes and doesn’t like, and is fun to be with.
Ken (Leo Yoshida)
A passing tourist. But he’s got another Honokaa Story up his sleeve... (still under construction)
©2009 FUJI TELEVISION NETWORK/DENTSU/ROBOT
November 13, 2006 (Mon) Sunny
Be friends, happy birthday.
Bee's alive, if it is 91 years old this year.
Grandmother of 94 years now.
Unfortunately, the physical condition is not very good.
The Bee's time if something happens, thank you to the grandmother's house.
By the way this year with a book of what happened a few months spent in the village of Honokaa. Bee's main character is of course. It was not yet reported.
Next year I hope to be able to report directly Bee's grave.
Until the day we meet again.
Leo is also in the Fashion/Accessories business with his father Katsu Yoshida