Gaijin Smash

Battle Royale

Posted in Blog by gaijinsmashnet on May 31, 2007

Quick, name one Japanese movie….That’s not animated in any way, shape or form. And The Last Samurai doesn’t count. I bet quite a few of you had to pause and think about that, huh. Japan isn’t exactly known for its cinematic prowess. Out of the few films Japan does produce, some may leave you wondering how exactly you got to a climax of a woman crying and masturbating in the rain, while others will simply destroy your faith in everything you ever believed in.
However, I’m sure that quite a few of you thought of Battle Royale as the answer to my opening query. Battle Royale is the charming and heartwarming story of a group of high school kids who are taken to a small island and ordered to kill each other down to the last man. They are equipped with collars around their necks which will explode if they try to disobey, or will be used to kill everyone should a winner not be declared. This movie has somewhat of a large cult following, and will often make “Top 10 Favorite Movie” lists on messageboards across the internet. I actually did not see this movie until after I came to Japan, and after watching it…I honestly just don’t understand what the big deal is. A bunch of high school kids killing each other. Whoopee?
Perhaps part of my problem was that I found it a bit unrealistic. Within the film, many students, of course, are apprehensive about the whole battle to the death thing, but quite a few get into it and within hours have become professional serial killers. I mean, I didn’t particularly like high school myself, but I can’t possibly imagine picking up a gun/sword/mace/Britney Spears CD and happily mowing my classmates down.
Well, I found the film unrealistic until I came to this school, that is.


The ninensei just don’t get along. And by “don’t get along,” I mean that I fear they may break out the weapons and start killing each other, without any pretense of exploding collars or a psychotic Beat Takeshi. It really is that bad. One day, as I was walking through the sannensei hall between classes, the flashing lights of an ambulance could be seen on the school grounds. Before I could even think about why, one sannensei girl said “What, is it the ninensei again?” I asked her what she meant, and she explained, “This happens a lot. Someone gets into a fight, or someone gets attacked, and then the ambulance has to come carry someone to the hospital. Girls and boys! The ninensei are *always* at each other’s throats.”
As you can imagine, this isn’t exactly conducive for English teaching. Games and activities are a big part of English lessons, and these things usually involve dividing the students up into groups to play. Even making a group of four students is a challenge, because in a class, maybe one student will have just one other friend. The other 28 kids are bitter, mortal enemies.
I played a game in a ninensei class with Ms. Forehead 2 once. I asked the students to divide into groups of four, but the best they could do was pairs. Some mercenary kids didn’t even have a partner! Seeing that this wasn’t going to work, Ms. Forehead 2 took the liberty of combining kids. For the most part, her strategy worked. However, there was one group of four girls who looked like they were going to start beating the ever-loving-shit out of each other any minute now.
…And for those of you about to think, “Oh, Japanese schoolgirl cat fight. Niiiiiiiiice.” Let me head that shit off at the pass. First, they’re 14 year-old Japanese girls, which means that it would look like two 11 year-old boys slapping and clawing at each other. Second, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, but there is nothing scarier in this universe that a Japanese girl who has unleashed The Furies. Nothing. If I were a terrorist, and I had to choose from being interrogated by an unsupervised and very pissed off Jack Bauer, or breaking up a Japanese girl cat fight, I’d take my chances with Bauer.
We tried to play the game, but things would grind to a halt when I came to this girl group, and rather than take a stab at the answer, they looked like they wanted to stab each other. After a painful and agonizing delay, one girl would finally spit out an answer, and the other girls looked at her with scorn and contempt, as if she was the lowest human being on Earth. As if she’d broken into their houses, killed the family pets, and stole all their money. As if she’d stolen her boyfriend, fucked him for a week, and then dumped him to start getting paid for sex from the school principal. As if she was the one responsible for green-lighting the Gigli movie. Later, I was talking to Ms. Forehead 2 about that group, and she said, “Yeah…well…those girls really, really dislike each other.”
If you knew that in the first place, why the hell did you pair them together!?
It’s weird, because from the front of the classroom, all I see are 30 Japanese kids. To me, there’s no reason why they can’t at the very least work together, and there’s certainly no reason for the unbridled blood lust. Of course, it doesn’t work that way. It didn’t work that way when I was a school kid either. I certainly had my fair share of enemies throughout junior and senior high.
The Ghetto School had its fair share of friction. Things there were divided by the good students, and the bad ones. The bad students generally made school, and subsequently life, not fun for the good students. Aside from an impossible learning environment, the good students were constantly bullied. But this was all one-sided. And the good students seemed to hate the situation more than they hated the kids who made for it. Most of the good kids took on the “just suck it up and ganbare!” attitude that permeates Japanese society.
This school’s situation was different though. More than kids misbehaving because they knew they could, somehow, someway, these kids just flat-out hated each other. And it was nothing like bad student versus good student, it was just student versus student. It was this that gave the whole situation an added sense of alarm. Like, things were going to explode one day. All I could do was to hope I wouldn’t be around when it did get out of hand.

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106 Responses

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  1. LoR said, on May 31, 2007 at 3:42 am

    Make sure they don’t get anything sharp when skit time comes around, I guess. I mean, what else can you do? Play 60’s rock?

  2. Colin said, on May 31, 2007 at 3:49 am

    Ummm…bullshit? Normally I agree with you wholeheartedly on your judgment calls, Az, but come on. Japan’s cinema has for decades been considered one of the Top Non-US film industries. And if you’re doubting me here, I have one word for you: Kurosawa.
    Honestly, anyone who read your question and didn’t immediately think “Seven Samurai,” “Ran,” “Rashomon,” “Yojimbo,” “Dersu Uzala,” or “The Hidden Fortress,” makes me oh so very sad.
    (Az’s Note: Yeah, I know Kurosawa.
    …Does the general American populace know Kurosawa? Personally, I doubt it. Besides, those are classics – lately there hasn’t been a whole lot of noteworthy stuff. At least not that I’ve seen.)

  3. Kyle E said, on May 31, 2007 at 4:00 am

    weird… wth would cause a bunch of kids to hate like everyone so deeply? I can usually see most of the scenarios you post but man that many kids despising each other is hard to imagine.

  4. JJ tha downlow wrecka said, on May 31, 2007 at 4:26 am

    What about the thriving Japanese horror film industry? A lot of people have heard of The Ring for example, if only due to the inferior American remake. This is seriously one of the scariest films ever.

  5. CD said, on May 31, 2007 at 4:36 am

    Hmm, I’ve heard of Battle Royale before, but I didn’t know that it was about THAT.
    And are pissed off Japanese girls similar to pissed off girls from Hong Kong? There are a few of them at my school. They bite, kick and scratch their hearts out.

  6. Draeger said, on May 31, 2007 at 4:42 am

    Sorry for going OT but cinema is a huge passion of mine:
    Azrael, like the first poster I automatically thought of Kurosawa when you mentioned Japanese cinema. Those people who say that BR is one of their favorite movies are probably the type to add it in their list thanks to the content and it being supposedly “exotic”; by that I mean a foreign film period. Unfortunately, if I tried to engage said people into a deeper discussion about the people, they cannot. I tell them that this movie is a psychotic blend between “A Clockwork Orange” and “Lord of the Flies” and after that their minds go blank.
    The only people who know about Kurosawa in the US are people who follow movies period, whether or not they are intelligent enough to comprehend everything the movie is trying to get across or not.
    It is truly pathetic that a man who had a huge effect of Western cinema is widely unrecognized, and yet the people he inspired give him tribute whenever they can.
    Directors like Scorsese, Spielberg, Lumet, Lucas, and countless others outside of Western cinema have acknowledged him as a major influence of them. Scorsese and Lucas even gave Kurosawa money so he could make Ran.
    Eitherway, I am going to stop before I blow up and make this into a huge brick of text.
    P.S.
    The only noteworthy Japanese film I have seen since Kurosawa died is The Twilight Samurai. Kurosawa’s daughter, Kazuki, worked on the costumes in the movie at that. I highly recommend that you watch it if you want to see a movie that is near Kurosawa quality.

  7. PW said, on May 31, 2007 at 4:47 am

    There are also good japanese movies. Like 7 samurai, Ran, The shadow warrior, etc. (Yes, I know they are all from the same director)

  8. PW said, on May 31, 2007 at 4:48 am

    Oh sorry, I see now that Colin made the observation in my last post first. My bad

  9. vertigociel said, on May 31, 2007 at 5:04 am

    So, is this school now officially christened the “Battle Royale”? Or maybe just “The School of Hate”?

  10. heathersuperjohn said, on May 31, 2007 at 5:34 am

    I am cheesey, so I just freakin’ LOVED Kikujiro. That’s one of my all time favourite movies.

  11. Tadashi said, on May 31, 2007 at 5:52 am

    The first movie that got in my mind:
    Tanpopo.
    Wouldn’t it be great if your students would mime that movie? It would be all hard ramen cooking with discussing how to eat it here and an Omurice there.
    And Obaa-sans running amok with the food in supermarkets.

  12. Kohaku said, on May 31, 2007 at 6:16 am

    As far as good Japanese cinema goes, I agree with Colin, there ARE some good movies…..but although I can appreciate most genres, for ME, if a movie has no violence, no blood/guts/gore, monsters/zombies/ghosts/demons/etc., not animated, or insanely humorous…I USUALLY dont want to see it. NOT discounting that the movie may be incredible, I just dont wanna watch unless I’m in the mood. and NEVER for chick flicks….ewww. I HATE romance movies…..
    On the Battle Royal….feel very happy that you went to schools so tame Az. Some of my high schools were worse. When I was in school (in Detroit) one of the popular things was to keep razors either under your tounge, in the roof of your mouth, or in your cheeks, that way you ALWAYS had a weapon to do damage. Some enterprising souls used to SPIT them with damn good accuracy. And dont get me started on guns and knives and everything else. Battle Royal has NOTHING on Detroit Public Schools (now it’s not quite as bad, but when I was in school, it was.) Ok, I’ve typed enough. Thank GOD attending school is long over…

  13. AE said, on May 31, 2007 at 6:27 am

    Man, Visitor Q is Hilarious drunk.

  14. maestro47 said, on May 31, 2007 at 6:33 am

    geezus christ you people. the gist of the article was about how screwed up the jap kids can be and all you can do is go into pedantic mode of “omg i am leet movie fan and know bettar”

  15. Spark said, on May 31, 2007 at 6:41 am

    Hey,
    You know, you’re kinda right about the BR movie. I watched it and I watched the sequel (which is worse). But before I saw the movies I read the book, which is really good.
    In the book the whole thoughts and feelings are better decribed and stuff. It’s not just the killing like in the movie.
    I would realy recommend the book.
    And to your Problem: It’s not so easy to get guns in japanese as in the US right?
    So just keep your Gaijin Senses sharp, you should be able to evade some katana / knife attacks 😉
    Just think of them as more painful kanchos.
    Goodl luck man! ^^

  16. Barry said, on May 31, 2007 at 6:47 am

    I said Godzilla, because a guy in a Godzilla suit stomping on a crappy model of Tokyo doesn’t count as animation.

  17. Bryan said, on May 31, 2007 at 6:56 am

    Bullllshit. Even excepting Kurasawa, who was not highly regarded in Japan during his lifetime, Japan has a WIDE variety of cinematic classics. Check out these three directors – Ozu Yasujiro, Mizoguchi Kenji, and Naruse Mikio. Any film buff must see the following movies before they die:
    Love is Strength
    Repast
    Tokyo Monogatari
    The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice
    Early Spring
    Floating Weeds
    Ugetsu Monogatari
    Kwaidan
    Sansho the Bailiff
    The Life of Oharu
    Sisters of Gion
    There are many more. And if those are too artsy fartsy for you, there’re a great deal of more “exciting” films out there:
    The Zatoichi Series
    Modern J-Horror (which get repetitive)
    Branded to Kill (Yakuza film)
    Onibaba
    Vengeance is Mine
    or anything by Takeshi Kitano or Takashi Miike (who also did Battle Royale)
    How can you disparage the cinema of a country that gave us Sonny Chiba (star of The Street Fighter) who was also given a small role in Kill Bill (Hattori Hanzo).

  18. Bryan said, on May 31, 2007 at 7:05 am

    Oops, I just realized I credited Battle Royale to Takashi Miike (who really directed Audition and others), but it was made by Kinji Fukasaku and starred Takeshi Kitano (or Beat Takeshi, as he goes by when acting).

  19. hapa said, on May 31, 2007 at 8:04 am

    Draeger, if you liked “twighlight samurai” then you’ll probably love “The Hidden Blade” by the same director.
    Japanese films are great. And anything with Tadanobu Asano is usually very good.

  20. Shmu2k said, on May 31, 2007 at 8:13 am

    Dunno, I liked Battle Royale, it was a fun movie and had one of the greatest wtf moments ever when the girl drags her boyfriend off a cliff. Even thinking about that scene makes me laugh, but maybe that’s just me.
    Otherwise, though, I have to agree. Japanese cinema has never struck me as all that impressive. I’m sorry, but Japanese horror films annoy me, at best. And, though I don’t speak Japanese, the “artsy” films are dull and often seem fairly shallow. And a lot of the plots are just straight up ridiculous. I may also simply be biased because a number of my friends are all, “OMFG JAPANESE CINEMA!”
    Korean movies, on the other hand…I just love that shit. Even the comedies and happy movies TRY TO MAKE THE AUDIENCE CRY! I’ve never been to Korea, but it must be the saddest, most depressed bunch of people in the world.

  21. Ai said, on May 31, 2007 at 8:55 am

    lol, japan..

  22. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 9:44 am

    Az is right- movie nuts? Nobody’s heard of that shit.

  23. Nidoking said, on May 31, 2007 at 9:52 am

    Odd… the first movie I thought of was “Afterlife”, which we watched in Japanese class. The second was “Kikujiro”, but I’ve only seen the ending of that, and while I wanted to get it on DVD, I’ve never found it.

  24. Nils said, on May 31, 2007 at 10:06 am

    I happen to like Visitor Q. When I’m stoned as fuck, that is.
    I also like weird Japanese horror flicks, like the Ringu trilogy, or Uzumaki.

  25. Mike said, on May 31, 2007 at 10:22 am

    I agree the movie sucked and what a incredible let down. Now the manga was a completely different animal. Check that out and you will really understand it all.

  26. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 10:31 am

    If you dont know it yet, Battle Royale was based on a novel. As with most movie-to-novel transitions, a lot of the source material got lost along the way. The Battle Royale movie was actually pretty good considering they had to cut off/alter 90% of the flash back scenes in the novel, which is a huge part of the novel itself. This actually had a huge impact on the story since the movie wasnt able to fully show each students motivation for killing or protecting people, most notably Kiriyama (the psycho w/ the uzi), Mitsuko (the slut w/ the sickle), and Shogo (the previous winner).
    I suggest you give it another shot. Try to read the novel (its rather short), or read the manga which is a lot more like the novel compared to the movie. Maybe then youll understand why it has such a cult following.

  27. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 10:31 am

    If you dont know it yet, Battle Royale was based on a novel. As with most movie-to-novel transitions, a lot of the source material got lost along the way. The Battle Royale movie was actually pretty good considering they had to cut off/alter 90% of the flash back scenes in the novel, which is a huge part of the novel itself. This actually had a huge impact on the story since the movie wasnt able to fully show each students motivation for killing or protecting people, most notably Kiriyama (the psycho w/ the uzi), Mitsuko (the slut w/ the sickle), and Shogo (the previous winner).
    I suggest you give it another shot. Try to read the novel (its rather short), or read the manga which is a lot more like the novel compared to the movie. Maybe then youll understand why it has such a cult following.

  28. Powter2 said, on May 31, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Az is correct. Japanese Indie films are like being stabbed in the eye with a prison shank. I don’t care how much of a beat nick you are; sit through three hours of no talking only to see a little girl die and get shoved in a suitcase (Nobody Knows). Your faith in God gets tested.
    As for the school situation, I’d just avoid getting in the middle of it and avoid making it worse. I can understand why Ms.Americanized 2 would pair up kids who don’t get along though. My teachers would do it to try and get us to “bond”. It worked about as well as using a giant wall of sugar to hold back a flood, but her intentions were good.

  29. Meredith said, on May 31, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Well, I said Prince of Space. And Invasion of the Neptune Men, and the various Godzilla and Gamera movies. But this has less to do with Japanese cinema than years of watching Mystery Science Theater 3000. Most of the other non-anime Japanese movies I’ve seen fall into the category of “Marital Arts B-movie with a title I can’t remember.”

  30. Prodigal Priest said, on May 31, 2007 at 11:20 am

    …. I’m not even gonna try talking about Japanese nonanime movies or their inferior American remakes. It’s too depressing.
    But Middle school girl catfights? Yeah, the girls in the middle school I work in are a pretty scary mix of pro wrestler and gang bitch. They will either a) come up behind their target and headslam them into the wall/locker/crap-ateria table, b) actually start a fight via the usual high-pitched wail they let loose before the fur (and hair) flies, or c) the much more rare pulling of a weapon.
    And of course, the remainder of the faculty can’t do more than watch until security can seperate the combatants. I’ve heard faculty even TAKE BETS too at those times. I’m a custodian in the school distirct, so I’ve seen alot.
    Aren’t hormones and teenage angst wonderful? I’ve got Darkest Peru out in the back to tame, so Peace to you 😀 .

  31. purplekitty said, on May 31, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    People get riled over anything T.T Az never said japanese movies sucked or anything like that. He said “Japan isn’t exactly known for its cinematic prowess.” That’s it. And he’s right. Most people ‘espicially westerners’ don’t usually but japanese movies at the top of their list, unless they happen to be into movies and/or in japanese culture. He did say they don’t have it just that it’s not what first comes to mind when most people think about Japan.
    Anyway that school sounds like a jungle. Do you think it’s that group of students that are like that or it’s just soemthing about being a ninensei that just makes them angry? O.O I know most of the fights when I was in high school was usually between the sophmores. They’re just an angry, mean bunch.
    (Az’s Note: Thank you, o voice of reason.)

  32. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    damn…
    my first thought was “in the realm of the senses!”

  33. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    damn…
    my first thought was “in the realm of the senses!”

  34. Tanaka Taro said, on May 31, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    Yes, Kurosawa is great, and is really only both known *and* loved by film buffs *outside* of Japan. Yes, he has influenced American directors. Kurosawa was himself chiefly influenced by John Ford (American director) and used William Shakespeare and other Western writers as his sources. So it comes full circle, really. Note to movie snobs: do *all* your homework before you embarrass yourselves.
    I saw the original “Ringu” with a friend in Japan a couple years before the remake came out. It’s not scary, it’s a joke. My friend and I laughed and MSTied our way through the whole thing. The two disturbing parts are:
    1) Sadako is going to do her father.
    2) The doctor starts to go down on Sadako and discovers she’s a hermaphrodite.
    “Ringu” is not horror, just stupid and wrong.

  35. zen said, on May 31, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Az, your school thing is lightweight…I guess you went to uptown schools in Cal.
    try…Philly, New York, Detroit…real haters!

  36. Sera said, on May 31, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    First movie that came to mind for me was “Tampopo”.
    Mmmmmmmmm….ramen……..

  37. ShadowCell said, on May 31, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    Hey, wasn’t this article about “crazy Japanese bloodlusting teenagers,” and not “wank to how much I know about Japanese cinema”?
    Just wondering.

  38. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Christ, Az. Bring some pepper spray with you to work. If things are that bad, you’re gonna need it.

  39. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Christ, Az. Bring some pepper spray with you to work. If things are that bad, you’re gonna need it.

  40. joe blow said, on May 31, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    I have to agree with you that there really aren’t many great modern day Japanese movies. Akira Kurosawa and Ozu have passed away and are long gone, Takeshi Kitano hasn’t put out a good movie in years, and Takashi Miike who gets alot of attention here is basically a b-movie schlockmeister. Japanese Horror flicks, while obviously different from there American horror flicks, have just as many generic conventions as there American counterparts. Thats not to say there aren’t quality films coming out, like Bright Future and Nobody Knows, but they seem to be few and far between, at least with getting distribution over here.
    I agree with you about Battle Royale, it was way too melodramatic for me with every other character dying in someone’s arms with teary eyed declarations of love before their last breath.
    There are alot of other good movies coming out of other areas in Asia like Pen-Ek Ratanaruang from Thailand who did Last Life in the Universe, Wong Kar-wai from Hong Kong, and tons of Korean films like Oasis and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring.

  41. Kerii-chan said, on May 31, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    Ah, I just recently read a good portion of the Battle Royale manga….but, not very nice art, so I’m unenthusiastic to continue…interesting plot though ^^’
    As an otaku, obviously the first japanese movie that comes to mind for me is the Death Note movie (and it’s sequel, I suppose). But even as something based on possibly the second greatest anime on earth, that movie still kinda….sucked. Honestly, it’s true, if it isn’t animated, then japanese movies/shows just….don’t work.
    But, they’re usually amazing when they are animated, so Japan still gets some credit, ne? XDD

  42. Patrick said, on May 31, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    Kohaku, you’re from Detroit? Wow. I’m from Davison (Flint area) myself.
    Az, I’m not surprised. It seems that things are getting worse all over. Although here in the US, they’re swinging too far to the proactive. My niece had a couple of friends dragged to the principle’s office for doing a science project on the M-16. And there’s the kid who got expelled for wearing his work shirt (Which he had a box cutter) to school because he was late. Sounds like Japan is going the opposite way.

  43. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    I though Ichi the Killer, but then again after seeing it I decided to stay away from Japanese movies. Seriously, that movie is so fucked up I wonder if I’m supposed to be high to get it.

  44. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    I though Ichi the Killer, but then again after seeing it I decided to stay away from Japanese movies. Seriously, that movie is so fucked up I wonder if I’m supposed to be high to get it.

  45. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    I remembered that one movie called “To Live” (title in Japanese) about a guy with lung cancer that was pretty good.
    …..I have no idea what Kurasawa is. +(

  46. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    I remembered that one movie called “To Live” (title in Japanese) about a guy with lung cancer that was pretty good.
    …..I have no idea what Kurasawa is. +(

  47. Kohaku said, on May 31, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    Poor Az, getting Japanese movies rammed down his throat(that hes already seen)….but he IS right. The average westerner (NOT international movie buff, otaku, japanophile, or psychotic person who comes of their own free will) does NOT know anything about Japanese cinema. Not unless its animated or because of an american remake.
    Just stay out of the way of the kids. Junior high/Middle school is the craziest/hormone driven/scariest time of your school days, I advise u to pray.
    yes Patrick, I am. lol….Flint and Detroit are now both in the Top 5 most dangerous cities in the US. I’m not sure if I should be proud or ashamed….

  48. narutokun said, on May 31, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    Hey Az,
    Just wanted to say that Battle Royale scared me at first because I could see it happening in Japan. Perhaps my vision is skewed because I’m a Chinese American who grew up with Pokemon and anime. So not too much surprises me about Japanese culture. But it does kinda scare me.

  49. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Check out “The Returner”. A great sci-fi movie with some pretty good acting (which is amazing since Japanese people are usually pretty bad at showing any emotions except for crying). Kaneshiro Takeshi is hot in this movie too!

  50. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Check out “The Returner”. A great sci-fi movie with some pretty good acting (which is amazing since Japanese people are usually pretty bad at showing any emotions except for crying). Kaneshiro Takeshi is hot in this movie too!

  51. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    hello, i’m a long time reader, first time…. commenter? great stuff you have. wish you would post more often than two times a week but again, i think how hard it is to put what you see in words.
    moving along. lol, you got it pretty tough, huh? Do you think they purposely put you into these schools because of your stereotypes? Like they were looking over your profile and was like, “Next we have Az… OMG! he’s big AND black. give him the sh*test school we have. No, no, don’t worry about him, he’s black so he must of lived in the ghetto, he can handle it. Might even give the students a bit of a scare.” Az, you’re taking one for the team but oh yeah, you’re not really on the team.
    lol, good luck and God speed.

  52. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    hello, i’m a long time reader, first time…. commenter? great stuff you have. wish you would post more often than two times a week but again, i think how hard it is to put what you see in words.
    moving along. lol, you got it pretty tough, huh? Do you think they purposely put you into these schools because of your stereotypes? Like they were looking over your profile and was like, “Next we have Az… OMG! he’s big AND black. give him the sh*test school we have. No, no, don’t worry about him, he’s black so he must of lived in the ghetto, he can handle it. Might even give the students a bit of a scare.” Az, you’re taking one for the team but oh yeah, you’re not really on the team.
    lol, good luck and God speed.

  53. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    I second “Tampopo”, “The Funeral”. “A Taxing Woman”, “A Taxing Woman’s Return”–not as funny, but still worthy. “Rajio no jikan’ (“Welcome Back Mr. McDonald”)–easily the funnest foreign film I’ve seen in forever, and the scenes in the recording studio are totally accurate. “Akai hashi no shita no nurui mizu”. Any Kaiju movie. THEN “Battle Royale”

  54. Anonymous said, on May 31, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    I second “Tampopo”, “The Funeral”. “A Taxing Woman”, “A Taxing Woman’s Return”–not as funny, but still worthy. “Rajio no jikan’ (“Welcome Back Mr. McDonald”)–easily the funnest foreign film I’ve seen in forever, and the scenes in the recording studio are totally accurate. “Akai hashi no shita no nurui mizu”. Any Kaiju movie. THEN “Battle Royale”

  55. DaiKamonohashi said, on May 31, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    I’m a big Tokusatsu fan so I started off thinking of the Godzilla series and old school Toho films but the first actual title that popped into my mind was VERSUS. wtf?
    I read the Battle Royale book first, so the movie’s only a bit of an afterthought to me. Book made more sense, movie certainly wasn’t the first to come to mind.
    That said, I can see what you mean, since so many people cite it as THE hyper-violent Japanese film (Ha!) and freak out over it for various reasons.

  56. Shamie said, on May 31, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    I always wondered how a Japanese classroom’s attitude would change if I charged into the classroom and wrote, “B. R. Act” on the chalk board.
    I once saw this one 90’s Japanese horror movie with a pretty awesome softcore lesbian scene called “Eko Eko Azarak”. Okay, I just skipped through the first parts of the movie and thankfully that scene was near the beginning. 90’s Japanese hairstyles… hilarious.
    Oh, I mentioned Battle Royale and a friend of mine said, “I saw that lesbian porn once, it was weird.” Wait, what, porn? Gah, my sick curiosity is getting the better of me…

  57. GringoDownSouth said, on June 1, 2007 at 12:08 am

    EVERYBODY that has posted so far is wrong ;p All through the world the only country that can be relied on to continualy produce movies that most everyone can see and enjoy is…the USA. Doesn’t matter what country you are in, movies from America are popular and everyone knows them.
    I’ll admit that I love Latin America flicks and especially Japan’s but the USA is the No.1 world provider.
    Az- I will pray that you develope a Katana Kanco Gaijin Sense. This school seems nuts.

  58. Anonymous said, on June 1, 2007 at 12:46 am

    I thought about it for a short while and all I could come up with off the top of my head turned out to be a HK film..yeah, I lose.
    I’m personally one of the BR novel followers. It rocks. I never have seen the movie, didn’t know it existed until about 6 months after reading the book. Does the movie not explain what the state of the new “old” government does to its citizens? That should bea clue to their behavior. Without all of the written content though I’m not really sure why anyone would want to partake in the story.
    As far as the kids go..I dunno. All I can say is good luck ^^;

  59. Anonymous said, on June 1, 2007 at 12:46 am

    I thought about it for a short while and all I could come up with off the top of my head turned out to be a HK film..yeah, I lose.
    I’m personally one of the BR novel followers. It rocks. I never have seen the movie, didn’t know it existed until about 6 months after reading the book. Does the movie not explain what the state of the new “old” government does to its citizens? That should bea clue to their behavior. Without all of the written content though I’m not really sure why anyone would want to partake in the story.
    As far as the kids go..I dunno. All I can say is good luck ^^;

  60. Dan said, on June 1, 2007 at 2:30 am

    If I was breaking up a fight between 14-year-old girls, I figure I could at least sneak in a couple of gropes. What’re they gonna do, kick my ass?
    (Az’s Note: Yes. If you’re lucky, they’ll *only* kick your ass.)

  61. Anonymous said, on June 1, 2007 at 2:44 am

    You know what I hate, by the way? Fuckin’ THE LAST SAMURAI. The nationalist, reactionary traditionalists… give the American a sword instead of killing him to death for setting foot on Japan? What? Plus, how fucking heavy-handed is the whole God-damned thing? GOD what horrible movie.
    “The Last Nigga on Earth, starring Tom Hanks.”

  62. Anonymous said, on June 1, 2007 at 2:44 am

    You know what I hate, by the way? Fuckin’ THE LAST SAMURAI. The nationalist, reactionary traditionalists… give the American a sword instead of killing him to death for setting foot on Japan? What? Plus, how fucking heavy-handed is the whole God-damned thing? GOD what horrible movie.
    “The Last Nigga on Earth, starring Tom Hanks.”

  63. Shibuya-Bill said, on June 1, 2007 at 3:06 am

    I have to agree with Az here, nearly all of the good J-films mentioned above are 15/20/50 years old at this point. Not to mention most of the J movies that are popular outside of Japan aren’t very well known by the Japanese.
    This is the kind of shit that you’ll find taking up an entire rack at Tsutaya (Japan’s blockbuster) these days.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0473064/

  64. Anonymous said, on June 1, 2007 at 3:07 am

    Was Audition animated at all?
    Didn’t think of Rashomon. Sad, since I’ve been in stage versions of it before.

  65. Anonymous said, on June 1, 2007 at 3:07 am

    Was Audition animated at all?
    Didn’t think of Rashomon. Sad, since I’ve been in stage versions of it before.

  66. Anonymous said, on June 1, 2007 at 4:13 am

    Honestly, all I could think of for a movie was that Japanese “Ring” film, and only because I own it.
    I feel so ashamed.

  67. Gorm said, on June 1, 2007 at 8:16 am

    Is err Casshern or something a japanese film? Thats got some good visuals. I thought of that film and Battle Royale.

  68. Sekani said, on June 1, 2007 at 10:05 am

    This is a special occasion; it’s the first time Az’s comments section has been taken over by Japanese movie fanboys.
    Anyway, just wanted to say that Kohaku is seriously not exaggerating about how bad the Detroit schools used to be. I lucked out because I went to a private school, but my brother did time at both Pershing and Mumford high schools. He showed me some of the razor and knife tricks he learned there, stuff I would have never thought of. Even the security guards are jumpy; once when I tried to pay my brother a visit, I almost got handcuffed by security because they mistook me for a student.
    But on the bright side, at least no one played with their sexual organs out in the hallway.

  69. eL Thorsen said, on June 1, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Did you ever find out why the kids hate each other that much?

  70. spongebob said, on June 1, 2007 at 11:52 am

    hey look at the bright side, they atleast dont kancho you anymore, atleast you never mention it anymore

  71. Shinkada said, on June 1, 2007 at 11:53 am

    Damn. Point out the flaws of Japan’s society for two years and you get minimal drama. Say one negative thing about Japan personally and, oops, the floodgates are open now! Oh no, Japanese children are practically molesting Az and being encouraged by other teachers that it’s ok, that’s fine. WHAT?! Japan hasn’t made any good movies in the last 10 years?! Why, I’m going to start a petition about this!
    Grow up people. You can look for hours and, at most, you’ll find about 4 Japanese films that the West knows of: Grudge, Battle Royale, Ringu, and occasionally Versus. Look at prominent directors’ influences, you might add another 4 films. Compare that to, how many films come out of the US, that every country gets in their own language or subtitled? I’m no America fanboy, in fact I think 99% of those movies are rubbish, but that doesn’t change the fact that America are influential to everyone, with nearly every big movie they make, and have been for a long time now. Japan? No.
    Az’s statement was correct, so shut the hell up. Just because you’re a fanboy doesn’t make the thing you’re a fan of better or more popular. I don’t care if you do love all Japanese movies, that doesn’t make them popular. As said by Harmonix: “Your mum doesn’t count as a fan,” just like you don’t count as a majority.

  72. questioningexistance said, on June 1, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    Umm… Death Note?
    or Letters From Iwo Jima?
    XD

  73. questioningexistance said, on June 1, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Oh well…. furget it. Death Note has a character animated..and Iwo Jima had been directed by Clint Eastwood

  74. Blinky said, on June 1, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    My GOD what a mess! Other then J-Horror, my otaku friends (groan) don’t watch other forms of J-movies. They love the shit out of those horror movies. I’m partial to Zatoichi for obvious reasons.
    Many people have suggesred the novel. I agree. If you’re into that type of thing, the novel was very good. It wasn’t “Tolkien-in-the-hospital” good where you’re kinda fucked and it sucks you in but it’s still very good.
    Michener’s Centennial was better though. Pasquinel would have fucked all them kids up.

  75. Ted said, on June 1, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    Hey Az, and all your readers.
    I just got Accepted onto JET!
    HA HA HA HA HA HA
    You wish you were me!

  76. Anonymous said, on June 1, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    Watch out for those pro movie geeks.
    Man I haven’t seen shit. Last movie I saw was Office Space. And before that probably like Lion King.

  77. Anonymous said, on June 1, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    Watch out for those pro movie geeks.
    Man I haven’t seen shit. Last movie I saw was Office Space. And before that probably like Lion King.

  78. Martin said, on June 1, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    “Quick, name one Japanese movie. …That’s not animated in any way, shape or form”.
    My first thought was “Nihon Igai Zenbu Chinbotsu”. That has to be one of the best movie titles ever.

  79. Atla said, on June 2, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Battle Royale the film wasn’t that great. It’s alright until you read the book… and then you realise how much they really fucked it up in the transition from a book with a fairly good concept and message into an excuse for violence involving Japanese school kids.

  80. Prodigal Priest said, on June 2, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    “Hey Az, and all your readers.
    I just got Accepted onto JET!
    HA HA HA HA HA HA
    You wish you were me!”
    Ummm…. no.
    I like being partially sane -_^

  81. Colin said, on June 2, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    First off, I can’t believe anyone mentioned A Taxing Woman. I’ve only seen that because we had to watch it for a class last semester, and it was one of the most painful movie-viewing experiences I’ve ever had. It was as implausible and ridiculous as the plot of The Transporter, but minus the explosions. Yeah; it was THAT BAD. The main character looks like a lizard, but moreover, she’s a tax collector and the director actually expects you to have sympathy for her. A TAX COLLECTOR, for god’s sake! Are you going to ask me to have sympathy for Enron executives next, or Britney Spears? Maybe there’s a serial killer somewhere you’d also like me to sympathize with? Jesus tapdancing Christ.
    Anyway, in response to your question about Americans knowing Kurosawa, maybe I’m biased here, but most of the people I know at the very least have heard of (if not seen) Seven Samurai. These people are in no way Japanophiles, either, nor are most of them movie buffs. I mean, for my father who rarely sees movies, my grandfather who sees them even less frequently, and another good friend of mine who hates almost all foreign films, to all know and love movies like Seven Samurai, Ran, and Rashomon, seems to indicate to me that Kurosawa is pretty well known in the US. Although this could just be a regional thing, wherein the East Coast from DC on up (and possibly the West Coast, too, though you’d know better than I on that score, Az) has much better general movie knowledge than middle America. And by “middle America,” I’m excluding major metropolitan areas like Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago, and Denver.
    *sighs, shakes head* Middle America…them and their lack of nearby large bodies of water…
    Note to Az: if this message posts twice, I’m sorry, that was an accident. I keep forgetting to add my name and then stopping it while it’s in mid-send.

  82. AlterAlias said, on June 2, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    I find myself starting to suspect that one can tell how good a school someone went to by how realistic they took Battle Royal to be. Hell a couple of my high school friends and myself used to joke about battle royal being the only reason we went on school trips.

  83. YuYuYukai said, on June 2, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    Heh. The first movies that popped into my head were Moon Child, Suicide Club, and 2LDK. But I definitely agree on the horror that is the Japanese cinema. How is it that such a technologically advanced country come out with such poorly filmed bullshit?

  84. Seek. said, on June 3, 2007 at 1:51 am

    I thought of Minbou and Naniwa Yuukyouden. ^^ I luvs teh yakuza flicks. Battle Royale is ok….I liked the book and manga better. Would not like to witness an actual group of people like that though. (0.0)

  85. Citric said, on June 3, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Oh lord 2LDK, that movie is just cruel and unpleasant. I do agree with the Japanese cinema thing, though mostly because Japanese movies have an alarming tendency to make no fucking sense whatsoever. They also tend to be heavy on the exposition, which only accentuates how little sense they make.
    2LDK, interestingly enough, has neither of those flaws, but is just mean.
    My first thought was Takeshi Kitano and his various films, if we’re playing that game.

  86. GaijinBob said, on June 3, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    There’s a great little japanese indie film called “Moon & Cherry”. Check it out.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0492820/

  87. Ilhares said, on June 4, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    Unfortunately, I think Casshern fails the “is it animated in any way?” caveat, but I’m going to agree that I thought it was a decent movie. Damn slow paced, though.
    Then again, I’ve never seen any movie in the world that was as bad as Dana Carvey’s “The Master of Disguise”. I am losing valuable life on the energy I waste hating myself for sitting through that… but it was just that bad.
    .. and I enjoyed Battle Royale. Reminded me of high school, minus the weapons.

  88. autumnfire said, on June 4, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    Nope, not a Japanese fanboy. I’m just a middle-aged female librarian. How about, “Shall We Dance?” Screw the crappy American re-make. The older female dance studio instructor reminds me of the grace and charm and sheer niceness of my Japanese language instructor. Too bad the obasans aren’t all like her!
    Az, are the lines of hate among the students drawn through the old caste system structure? I had read that there were still instances of horrific bullying taking place because of it, but wasn’t sure if it had managed to die out in the last 15 years.

  89. Ronin said, on June 4, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    Colin, yeah using profanity makes your post sound more convincing. How eloquent. Funny you apologize instead for possibly posting twice.
    Anyway, agree with folks here with the legendary Japanese filmmakers like Kurosawa and Ozu. To this day they remain unparalleled, and continue to be an influence among many directors. Films such as “Seven Samurai” and “Ikiru” from Kurosawa and “Tokyo Story” from Ozu are considered classics in world cinema. It’s just a shame most general audiences don’t or can’t appreciate great films like these anymore and instead wait for the next big Hollywood blockbuster instead.

  90. Colin said, on June 5, 2007 at 1:35 am

    There’s profanity in my post? Where? I’m not seeing any swearwords, which is unusual for me, since I normally have the mouth of a sailor.
    …wait, did you mean the Jesus thing? If you expect me to apologize, ever, for taking Jesus’ name in vain, you are going to be sorely disappointed. Blasphemy is more or less a hobby of mine.
    Ok, I’ll shut up about the movies. As far as your point regarding the students fighting each other all the time: I know we all had another student or students we were enemies with in junior and senior high school, but what is it that makes it so much worse for the Japanese kids at that particular school? Is there any cause you can observe as to why it would be so much worse there?

  91. linnet said, on June 5, 2007 at 2:01 am

    I use to think of Japan of such a great place to go and experience, but little by little I realise that all is not what it seems…
    I mean, a bit of bullying, voilence and/or friction is common in any school any where. But to the extent of considering ambulance visits as ‘normal’??
    And that entry you wrote on Bullying…. my goodness! Kids really can be so cruel >_<

  92. Ash said, on June 5, 2007 at 4:38 am

    Az, your updates make me “lololol” so hard.
    I’ve been reading since OP9. XD
    Anyways. I didn’t exactly like Battle Royale too much. As for the ambulance @ school being considered normal, that’s how it is at the school I went to. There was always gangfights and the sort.
    OH, and.. do you know what /b/ is? XDDD
    I swear you do. Especially with the “OVER NINE-THOUSAND” quotes.

  93. Kuroi Kaze said, on June 5, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    I actually bought the DVD for Visitor Q which remains, despite all my best efforts to find evidence to the contrary, the most fucked up movie in all of existence.
    Believe that.
    I have rules when I loan it out:
    Do NOT watch Visitor Q drunk.
    Do NOT watch Visitor Q with your friends.
    Watch it by yourself, quietly, from start to finish.
    It will fuck your world up.

  94. Draglancer said, on June 8, 2007 at 1:53 am

    Hm.. Catfight.. rawr.. hm..At my old school it goes down like this..: Shootouts on a weekly basis, check. Drug bust of the day, check. Pimp,whore,skanks..etc, check. semi-annual bomb threat, check. What else did I miss? Anyways, keep up the great work!!
    Man all this great editoral’s ive been missing out on..
    btw Battle Royale is no exception either, it was made into an anime and manga as well… nothing is safe now.. >.>’.

  95. Anonymous said, on June 9, 2007 at 12:06 am

    anyone else think BR2? Man did that movie suck.
    First movie that came to mind for me was Audition. Then Battle Royale. Sorry film elitists, Kirusawa is just too old to come straight to mind. Naming Kirusawa films as your favorite japonese movies is like naming Citizen Kane and The Jazz Singer as your favorite movies of all time. Just because they were innovative and great at the time doesn’t mean they’re the best.

  96. Anonymous said, on June 9, 2007 at 12:06 am

    anyone else think BR2? Man did that movie suck.
    First movie that came to mind for me was Audition. Then Battle Royale. Sorry film elitists, Kirusawa is just too old to come straight to mind. Naming Kirusawa films as your favorite japonese movies is like naming Citizen Kane and The Jazz Singer as your favorite movies of all time. Just because they were innovative and great at the time doesn’t mean they’re the best.

  97. Ploin said, on June 12, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    ur god azrael.
    seriously.

  98. Glaeken said, on June 19, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Draglancer, *Kurosawa was making movies well into the 1980’s and even in the 1990’s. Now unless you were born in the 2000’s, as I suspect, that’s not too long ago.
    And what’s age have to do with bearing on a movie’s quality? If something is older you have to suddenly not like it anymore? What would stand as a classic in that sort of retardation you call an opinion?
    If anything, with age you get to see a great movie stand the test of time, and see how good it is in comparison to the movie trash released afterwards.
    Grow a brain stem, you fucking ape, to put it in your drivel.

  99. Moon Minamino said, on July 15, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    One Japanese movie?
    MoonChild starring Hyde and Gackt
    The Ring
    The Grudge
    Etc?

  100. David Warren said, on July 27, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    omggggg battle royale is my favourite movie of all time!! 😀
    yukie utsumi… mmmn…. sexay 😛
    battle royale two is well good as well 😛 i love their little scrap palace thing 😀
    hahahaa relating those japanese kids to battle royale was funny 🙂

  101. Ceri Cat said, on September 28, 2007 at 2:27 am

    Lone Wolf & Cub actually came to me pretty quickly. Though it might fail your test on some level (since IIRC it’s derived from a manga and most manga I’ve come across that have a LA feature are also done as anime). Same with Gamera and a number of other B-grade (at best) monster flicks the Japanese seemed to love making.

  102. Saknika said, on March 6, 2008 at 2:52 am

    Kinda sounds like my old highschool when you grouped kids together. lol

  103. Christopher Mohr said, on June 13, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    First one I thought of was “Dolls”, followed closely by Versus (available at your local video store, or mine anyway) and Wild Zero. None of them really good, but available. Kurosawa stands teh test of time, as does “Snow Country” though that one is a pain to try and get. People tend to think I’m some kind of screwed up when I mentoin such films.

  104. Cameron said, on August 9, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    I gotta say, this is still nothing surprising. Even in the best DoD schools (that’s ‘Department of Defense’ since you’ve apparently been a civilian for so long) there were always rivalries that just couldn’t be monitored, that defied monitoring, that war veterans and ex-gangbangers would just get the fuck out of the way of. They could blow over, they could wear out, they could escalate to tragedy; there’s no prediction, and there’s no intervention that couldn’t be willfully circumnavigated by those involved. But the injury potential isn’t necessarily bad for them in long-term; every one of my best friends in jr. high were people I initially tried to beat the hell out of or at the very least deprive them of a painless asswhipping on me.

  105. Lau said, on December 18, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    You saw the movie Battle Royale, but I highly recommend reading the BOOK Battle Royale. It goes much more in depth than the movie does and actually gives a backstory to most (if not all) of the characters. It also goes much further into the psychology of each of the different characters and why they are doing what they are doing. It is one of my favorite, if not my favorite, book of all time. Also, I love reading your posts. My Medieval teacher gave me the link, and your posts were the thing that kept me sane during my first college finals week. Keep up the good work, and try to read Battle Royale. You will not regret it.

  106. Dexter said, on August 12, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    Honestly, the first movie that came to my mind was Crows ZERO.
    And seeing as how every student hates each other in that school, I found it to be quite a coincidence that I thought of that movie before even reading this editorial. (If you’re still confused as to what I’m talking about, feel free to Wiki or Google it.)
    Still, great posts, as usual. I’m really digging the site. 🙂


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