Watching recent Japanese films, I often have the feeling that their makers need an imagination injection, or simply need to get out more. It's not just that few, especially at the commercial end of the spectrum, work from original scripts. Plenty of great movies are adapted from other media.

But rather than view their source material through their own observations and introspections — that is, make it their own — filmmakers in Japan frequently latch onto secondhand inspirations or simply transfer manga, TV shows or games to the screen, formulas, cliches and all.

Screened at the recently concluded Tokyo International Film Festival, Ryosuke Hashiguchi's "Koibito Tachi" ("Three Stories of Love") shows up the derivativeness of much of the local competition.