With a lot of these posts it's about the memories that I have of the past within reliving this past for the completion of the run time on the focused media. Though there are features that I haven't seen, media that I want to share the experience with Cartoon Cyborg Cinema citizens. So if there's something exciting or if something is weird or it just doesn't make sense, I'm there right with you all through the thick of things. If you've read the long point for point reviews, then you know that I'm gonna give you every moment and thought. When its media that I've experienced before it's a different trip, you get a glimpse into the person from years before. This sadly is only a look into the type of creators that I engulf my imagination in and desire for more from these creative souls.
Sukeban Boy (or Oira Sukeban) is a comic created by Go Nagai, this name should sound familiar with Robot Girls Z and Robot Girls Z Plus on this blog already. I have a lot of interest in Go Nagai's work, since my first experience with him was way back during the rein of Blockbuster. Most of my Anime was from Blockbuster and the first time seeing anything by Go Nagai was the Devilman animated movie (I was really young and wanted to see Anime, all the Anime… I didn't realize that there was horror Anime and at the time horror scared me, again I was very young). This didn't discourage me in my search for more about Go Nagai, if anything it encouraged me to find more by this interesting mangaka. Then I found out he made a Robot manga called Cutie Honey, an amazing redhead out to stop the organization Panther Claw who killed her creator and wants to take over the world. If you look up at the title of this blog, it's implied that not only did this comic become an obsession, so did the creator.
Though talking about obsessing about a creator, let's talk about Noboru Iguchi and his work within Japanese films. With the release of Machine Girl I was more than excited to see what came from this astounding B-Movie expert. I've been growing on MST3K (Mystery Science Theater 3000) and TV Movies, so the genre of low budget films are a delicacy in the sanctum of Cartoon Cyborg Cinema. With amazing films like Dead Sushi and Karate-Robo Zaborgar (RoboGeisha is next on my watch list) I was more than excited to see that two people who know how to create a story with humor and suspense make a live-action film about a manga from 1974. Though this wasn't the first Sukeban Boy film, there was another made in 1992 and an OVA in the same year, like some Marvel movies during this decade, it's best left in the past and to talk about the future. Noboru Iguch might have a smaller budget than most directors, but still makes a quality piece with wonderful actors, tongue-in-cheek humor, and stimulating plot.
Let's take a look at the cover and initial thoughts, even though I peeked into the thick of things without watching the movie full, don't worry I know none of the plot, except for the basic idea of the manga. Sukeban Boy was created by Go Nagai it's about a delinquent that is thrown out of every school in Japan because of his face. He looks like a beautiful teenage girl, though he's very strong and beats up students and teachers alike for treating him differently based on his face. First thing first, this is gonna be a bit of an Adult film, most if not all of the films Noboru Iguchi makes are rated R in America's rating system. Though Go Nagai is very much the same in that sense, since his work ranges from child safe to Underground comix adult, so there's already a bit of a curb on this film of what to expect from this feature. The poster doesn't slow down any either it's a cover that's expected, though let's brake it down. The main villain is in the center of the picture with the romantic duo staring in the film surrounding her in different emotions and actions. It feels like another cover that was made for international release, since it looks like a Photoshop nightmare, bright colors and no focus, things are clumsily slapped to this cover. I'm gonna see if I can find the Japanese poster, it might have more focus and a plot that wants to be expressed through a single image. It seems that this international cover was more provocative than the Japanese poster, though in short, just as pointless and uninteresting. Personally this is a bad start to anything, when the cover can't gain interest, it's either the production's fault or it's the feature. I always hope for the best in these situations, that they were told to feature things to get interest into the film by showing this or that, then there's the negative of this that there just wasn't anything interesting or of note in the feature. Well, that leads to only one option, let's dive into this feature film and find out what's up.
The opening of the film is of the back of two heads, it's implied that this could be a romantic scene, though this is a classic bait and switch with comedy films. As it is, so let's look at the scene a bit, it's a rock bed next to a stream with mountains cascading in the background, as one of the heads fall to his knees and spits blood upon the ground, passing out as the camera pans out to reveal the outfit is a classic girls school uniform on the standing person. It seems to be a very attractive young woman with brass knuckles in hand, a little bloody, but she seems to be proud of her work this day. Then a trio of loud rebels come cheering in exclamation toward the young woman.
Who doesn't like to play pretend, especially reenacting those dumb moments in a film.
The Young men stop and talk to this teenage girl of similar age. She explains that she might be dressed in a girl's uniform, but she's still a guy. Well, I need to use the proper pronouns, sorry about that. The woman playing the main lead is a man in character, this isn't fully a story about transgender, it's more about finding love and over coming gender, in a comedic way. It hard to write about this since it's a very thin line they walk between being offensive and allowing a casual person watching this film to understand what's happening. Personally I like that there's a character that's challenging what is means to love yourself no matter how you look, but it's also a strong character that desires his love and education at the expense of his attire. Though again, this is a comedy, so this message may be a little blunt on its message of self discovery, but it's still a message that's saying "find yourself, even if the World wants you to fit in a role not meant for you" you're meant for a different role in life. Again, this message might not ever come, though this is something that sits as a question were will this film lead, in a positive wavelength or flicker off into a negative fault. Though it's too soon to say that this film is about those that try to oppress someone that's trying to live their life, but the World wants this beautiful person to be in a role that they feel is what they appear to be, rather than allowing them to decide.
Anyhow, back to the fight, the three flank our hero. He asks them what they had for lunch and they reply with the meals each member of this gang of teenagers that are in their mid to late twenties. And that he'll make them all puke it all up again. He beats them all into submission or almost to death, as the opening credits introduce all who will be in the film, with punches and catchy music. As each member is defeated and forced to puke. Our hero then spits on the ground they lay and leaves the fray unharmed internally monologuing who he is and why he's beating people up.
Okay so this is where the part of the story that does get a little deep, it's a shallow pool, but it's still deeper than the cover on the subject matter. So it seems that he was bullied everyday about his looks, that he was as beautiful as a female supermodel. He fights anyone that tells him this and hurts himself to try and change his appearance. He lives with his Dad, who used to be a biker. This was a story around the 70's, so bikers were a huge thing in the 50's, their rise in the 60's was immense, though the biker has declined a bit in the modern day, there are still bikers and gangs, though it's been more quarantined. Moving on, the Father wants to talk to his Son, who's currently in the bath, about him getting kicked out of school again. They talk and it seems that this crossdressing is more of a punishment rather than self-discovery, though at the same time it could be seen as the Father is trying to help his son realize that he needs to accept his face and by being in an all girls' school would at the least allow him to focus on school and less on his appearance, allowing him to grow as a person, though live a lie within the time given at this new school. It's a hard point that's something I don't have experience with, but know that high school is a hard time and growing up different from everyone else makes things harder, especially if you're trying to find yourself and are unsure about your sexuality. Like I said it's that line they run on, it's a tightrope, but for the most part they seem to understand. It's hard to write a character like this, since the idea is that classic 80's plot, though it's a classic plot even before. Switching someone's gender so they can pretend to be another gender, it's a common joke, but it's easier to find more comedy films that try to express the hardship of gender confusion or self discovery in comedy. It's a dark path that can be enlightened by comedy.
You'll never know something more surprising nor shocking than a metallic voice coming from the crack of a door.
Then we get an establish shot of the new school that our main character will be spending time within, as young women take to the interior of the building. He walks onto campus in a long coat and sunglasses, complaining the half of the way to the door, then runs back down the hill to change out of his long pants and jacket into his skirt. The outfit is something that he's unsure about and wants to skip school because of it, but he's stopped by his Father, who bites his nose, and tries to force a wig on his head to help him fit in better. The wig is worn and introductions to the class is next for our delinquent hero. Anyhow, someone tries to kill him, throwing knives, he jumps toward his attacker, though brings the wrong person down, then is stricken by cupid's arrow. This girl then points to the one with the knives, so as like she was teasing the new kid and storms out, since her prank was found out. That's what I love about these movies, it's the dry jokes, it's the humor that you just sit there and laugh at either because of it's performance or it's dialogue.
The girl that he tackled to the ground then wishes him nothing but Hell in his future. Then Sukeban sulks on the stairwell. The girl finds him and comes to him to talk, her name is Ichi, not very imaginative parents, huh. Unless this isn't their first child. It seems that she wants to be friends, so he shows her what she'll be taking on, with a flip skirt. Then she tells him about the all girl gang in the school and that he'll have to act more feminine. Now she doesn't know that he's a he, though she's really okay with the amount of naughty touching, but still it's a comedy where the main theme of the film is to be naughty, since it's also the director who is known for his naughty nature. She takes him to this new club to help him and her to be more feminine. It turns out that this is a club about humility. At this point in the film it's less about plot and more about looking at women talking off their clothes. It feels less like a school and more like a dominatrix dungeon, not sure why we're here, but plot, I'm just looking for plot, excuse me, plot, come on now, where are you plot, I'll find you, excuse me miss. Plot!
They're stopped by the chief of the room and… well I'm gonna let you see the scene, when the plot comes back I'll keep going. Okay so the plot comes back and it seems that the implied all girl gang is here, well an all girl gang, since this was a cover for new recruits for the panty hose gang. Then is becomes a tease show, it feels like a poorly rehearsed burlesque show. The idea was there and funny, but it wasn't perfectly executed, very cute, though needed a little more time to polish. Then we really get to a fight, it's between the head of the gang Kanko and Sukeban. Her powerful kicks and his punches are what will see who wins this bout. And with a final blow Kanko goes for a finishing kick that is easily grabbed by Sukeban, who then punches are in the naughty bits, then farts on her face. Though the gas was too much and Sukeban fainted from the fray.
It's the next day and Sukeban is better and meets Ichi in the morning, it seems their relationship is growing. As they walk to the school on their way they see Kanko, it seems that Kanko has fallen in love with Sukeban. Then we cut to the next scene and it's a pink room. I was wrong it's not the next day it's the end of the day and it's Kanko's house. Ichi looks into the sunsetting landscape contemplating what went on this day. While Sukeban enjoys the dancing and merriment in the pink room. It seems that Kanko has an older sister that knows better, thinks that something is up with Sukeban. It's interesting that a film that's not making cringeworthy assumptions, that they're treating this very gingerly and well to not make crossdressing jokes, that they're focusing on making the plot interesting. It seems that Ichi was worried about Sukeban when all those girls came out of nowhere to take him away. She seems to really care about Sukeban a lot, enough that she'd do anything for her, that's a pretty great friendship. So Sukeban wrote Kanko a letter to meet him in the classroom later. That was a good transition, though it's not from Sukeban, it's from the Zen-Su League, who wants to take down Kanko. Again it feels like they had an hour with the script for choreography. The bout is one sided, the League wins and slowly Kanko loses her legs, which are hatched off, also her tongue.
Then the Hero arrives, a Square shield in hand, well I guess Cubed, since the "C" and all.
It's finally the next day or it's been the next day and it's the next day after that, it's hard to follow time in this film. Then Sukeban spots the three pukes, well punks that fought him in the beginning of the film. Seems the Dad has grabbed them to help his son since the Zen-Su League are folks that one should not deal with alone. Then a shot is fired and it 's the fingers of the leader of the three punks who's bleeding like a fountain. The bullet came from Kanko's older sister of the no bra league. The older sister claims that Kankor was attacked and mutilated by Sukeban and starts chewing bullets at his new gang of crossdressing men. Then Ichi comes in and stops Sukeban from being shot, she's a champion ping-pong player with an iron racket. Though this was a little late, since Sukeban was shot. Ichi does all she can to stop this gang leader. When being shot at feet away Ichi finally deflects a shot back at the older sister and it strikes her chest.
Sukeban's crew take him to an area in the school, that's undisclosed, but a place where they can rest and get that bullet out of Sukeban. We just have a weird moment with the Dad, bullet is still in Sukeban. Then three bald women appear with chains and chanting walking to the Sukeban gang, they have writing all over their face. Then this gang attacks in their strange way. Ichi takes out Sukeban's Father who needed to be stopped. Ichi somehow has a hormonal drug that is fast acting and will allow Sukeban to fully become a women, well in body and face. Also this drug was forced on him, but it's also an ultimatum, either Sukeban has to be a girl or he will be killed by his friend Ichi who can only love a girl, oh and she's Zen Suto… Sukeban runs away trying to avoid the axe swinging toward him. He dodges the telegraphed attack, though falls right into the arms of the bald hymn singers.
The final battle starts, all the players are in and everyone has a dance partner. Again it's not that I don't appreciate fun times like a burlesque show, but an afternoon to work on the choreography would be at least more than the amount of time that this was storyboarded, if it was storyboarded at all. Such a weird fight scene, though then we see a staple in all Noboru Iguchi movies. Something grotesque, though a little sexy, mammary machine guns. Unlike the Austin Powers version of this titillating terrors, these spring out from beneath the skin of the older sister of Kanko. I know this is trying to be sentimental and self sacrificing, though the three actors that they got to be the punks are slapping each other with red paint and bits of something as they're being shot by the older sister of Kanko, which is protecting Sukeban from harm. Not sure why they're so loyal, but still that's awesome of them and really funny to see these three guys slap each other with real pain associated with the fake blood.
Then the most ridiculous show down shoot off of the sisters happens, where Kanko is trying to save Sukeban and her older sister is trying to kill him, by shooting each other. Kanko now has guns protruding from her stumps. And again it's trying to be really sentimental and within the moment, but they throw red bits of things at the actresses to act as bullets and the event becomes amusing in a humorous way. Kanko is dead and the older sister dies holding her.
The true show down between Sukeban and Zen-Su takes place. As Sukeban's body changes to become a woman. I'm kinda glad where things went in this film, it wasn't heavy handed in trying to be a comedy about crossdressing, they had a few gags here and there, but they went an alternate route on this which was classy of them to do. They focused on the character and the plot, though allowed the film and main character to grow naturally into who he is and what he wants to be, more or less.
Anyhow the final fight begins and they are testing each other, sizing up the other, how strong, what attack, who will land a punch first? They start fighting in the best fight scene of the film. Punch for punch, pounding and kicking each other, it looks like Sukeban will be defeated, then Sukeban farts knocking his opponent to the ground. Tough Ichi gets the upper-hand and starts choking him. It seems Ichi has grown to attached to Sukeban and can't kill him. Then Sukeban's Father appears, repenting what was done. Giving a shot to Ichi, it's this erie green shot that Ichi gave to Sukeban, though it's eerie blue. Then he dies, the scene ends with with the final battle unfinished, though a new life for Sukeban and Ichi starts today… a lot of people died I think there's gonna be questions from the police… Then Ichi and Sukeban embrace each other in love and peace. Fading to black as they realize what's in the shot and that their lives will be changed forever.
Some people will never get over shyness, others don't know about space.
We come back with both characters okay with being male, it seems that the male shot was stronger than the female shot, though they retained certain attributes from both genders. Sukeban realizing that gender isn't important to him anymore, though this is a huge character mistake, since that's the basic idea of his character. Sukeban through the manga and the film cared a lot, then making this one eighty of the character we didn't really get to see the evolution. Still this was a big trauma in his life, a lot of huge moments happened with a day, so I can believe it, though it's totally out of character. Anyhow the men are sent in, the men (who are these men, I haven't a clue) start dancing around this new couple, celebrating their love through dance. Though this might be my favorite end credits of all time, since it is the strangest end credits I've seen. It's just one of those things that one has to experience for themselves.
Overall this was a fun movie to watch, it was an homage to similar films and the 90's flick, that had Go Nagai acting in the feature. As a movie, as a feature, this is maybe the worst thing I've seen all year, though that's the thing, the movie knows this and doesn't take its self seriously. I've been brought up on bad movies and the like, so it's something that I love seeing, since they have a lot of moments that are goofy and a lot of interesting moments that can't be expressed perfectly. One thing I have to mention is that this film would have never been anything positive without the amazing Asami. Asami is a recurring actor in Noboru Iguchi films, her role varies, though consistently she's stolen my attention from the star of each film. Honestly Asami is my main comment for if you desire to watch this movie, then it would be the execution of the presentation. Though this is not a film for those that are casually looking for a manga/anime to live-acton feature, this is far from that with plot alone. It's really for people that are looking for a good B-Movie to play for noise or those that love weird flicks that have a thin plot and an hour running time.
I trust you enjoyed the inspection, thank you for reading.
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