For all its many attractions as a place to live, Japan can be unforgiving for anyone who's perceived as different.

There's a phrase that comes up repeatedly during Hikaru Toda's "Of Love & Law": "reading the air" (kūki o yomu). It describes the unspoken way in which people are taught to assess a situation and adjust their behavior accordingly. Though it's meant to denote tact and consideration, what it really means is conforming — and for those who can't (or won't) do it, reading the air can be stifling.

This becomes clear over the course of Toda's documentary, which took home one of the main prizes at last year's Tokyo International Film Festival. "Of Love & Law" depicts the fragile state of individual rights in contemporary Japan, as seen through the eyes of a pair of lawyers, Kazuyuki Minami and Masafumi Yoshida, who are themselves minorities: They are an openly gay couple.