Sleeping or Waking (Japanese Film Review & Summary)

Japanese Film 2018


Sleeping or Waking (Japanese Film Review & Summary)

Sleeping or Waking poster

  • Aka: Asako I & II
  • Genre: Romance, Drama, Mystery
  • Date Released: 2018
  • Origin: Based on a novel by Tomoka Shibasaki called Netemo Sametemo
  • Film: 119 minutes


  • Masahiro Higashide as Baku & Ryohei
  • Erika Karata as Asako
  • Koji Seto as Kushihashi
  • Rio Yamashita as Maya
  • Sairi Itoh as Haruyo
  • Daichi Watanabe as Okazaki

This drama was entered at the 71st Cannes Film Festival.  It has that arty look as well as the feel for Cannes.

Anyway, the story is pretty interesting but a bit draggy in some parts, which actually the arty bits.

Asako first met Baku at a photo gallery.  She was entranced by the look of Baku, despite him looking unkempt.

They were both leaving the gallery when some children released some firecrackers which surprised both Baku and Asako.

They looked at each other and they began to kiss.  And that was the start of their romance.

It was a very sensual, erotic relationship.  They were once riding a motorcycle which crashed.  They looked as if they were hurt but they reached for one another and started kissing, much to the surprise of their rescuers and onlookers.

As much as Asako was enjoying being with Baku, her friend Haruyo, continuedly warned her to be careful of Baku because he was bad news.

But Asako was in love until one day Baku just disappeared.

Two years later, Asako is now working in Tokyo in a coffee shop.  In front of their shop was an office building where Ryohei works as a regular salaryman.

Asako was collecting the coffee kettles and mugs when she saw Baku’s double.  She double takes and asked the man if he was Baku.

He said he is not from the zoo.  After they finally understood one another Asako found out that he was Ryohei.

At first, Asako tried to keep her distance from Ryohei but he was persistent to know her.  Until he said he likes her.

Asako was charmed.  But looks like she likes him because of his resemblance to Baku.

Before long, Asako had moved in with Ryohei.  They were quite happy together with their cat, Chintan.

Asako and Ryohei were shopping together when they had a chance encounter with Haruyo.  Haruyo was surprised how Ryohei looks so much like Baku.

Haruyo quickly told Asako that she was happy for her because Ryohei seems such a good man.  She also said that Baku is back, pointing to a billboard where a well-groomed Baku was modelling.

Asako was surprised as she had not noticed it before.

Asako and Ryohei invited Haruyo to dinner at their house.  There Haruyo met Maya and Kushihashi.

The girls were having a friendly chat while the boys were outside.

Their conversation led to the new star, Baku.  Asako had to confess that she used to date Baku.

Maya asked if she was going to tell Ryohei, which Haruyo said she mustn’t.

But Asako doesn’t want any secrets from Ryohei, so she told him and Ryohei was cool about it.  He said that he had known for a while that she must have dated Baku because of her reaction to him, when they first met.

Asako was so relieved.

Ryohei was being sent to the countryside by his work and he asked Asako to move  with him and get married.

Asako happily accepted and loved the new house they were going to move in.

They were being given a dinner farewell party by their friends and in walked Baku.

He said he had returned as he had promised her.

Baku then left with Asako.  Ryohei was devastated.

Baku and Asako droved for a while but Asako quickly realised that Baku is hardworked and that all along she loves Ryohei.

She asked Baku to leave her as she will return to Ryohei.

Baku agreed.

Asako returned to Ryohei but he was not happy to see her.  Everyone was telling her that he will not forgive her for running off with another man.

But someone also told her to do everything she can to stay with the one that really matters to her.

She went back to Ryohei and explained that what she did to him was unforgivable so she was not even going to apologise.  But she just wanted to stay by his side forever.

Ahhh, Ryohei finally allowed her to get inside the house but told her that he will never trust her again.


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