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  Aimed School, The Psychic schoolgirl freaks out fascists while harassed by horny aliens
Year: 1981
Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi
Stars: Hiroko Yakushimaru, Ryoichi Takayanagi, Miyoko Akaza, Fumi Dan, Hajime Hana, Masami Hasegawa, Chiharu Kuri, Toru Minegishi, Koichi Miura, Kaori Mizushima, Nobuyo Oyama, Yusuke Okada, Noriko Sengoku, Hiromitsu Suzuki, Yasuhiro Tanogashira
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction, Weirdo, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Happy-go-lucky high school girl Yuka Mitamura (Hiroko Yakushimaru) is a cute and popular straight-A student who likes to help boyfriend Koji (Ryoichi Takayanagi) organize his after-school kendo club. One day her world turns upside down when she discovers she has incredible psychic powers. At first Yuka uses her newfound abilities to save child from being hit by a truck and help Koji win his kendo tournament. But then she starts hallucinating about Kyogoku (Toru Minegishi), a crazy-haired, cape-wearing super-being from another planet. He claims he wants to mate with Yuka and sire a new master race that rule the Earth. Things only get stranger when a new student arrives at school. Scary, intense Takasawa (Masami Hasegawa) turns out to have awesome psychic powers of her own along with a sinister agenda for the unsuspecting high school.

Psychic teens were all the rage in Eighties Japan, a craze popularly thought to have been sparked by the first appearance of none other than famed spoon-bender Uri Geller on local television. Thereafter telekinetic teenagers sprang up in manga, movies and novels. Taku Mayumura’s teen novel “Nerawareta Gakuen” (School in the Crosshairs) has been the subject of several adaptations for film and television but The Aimed School remains its definitive screen incarnation. A vehicle for teen idol Hiroko Yakushimaru - who was more than a star, almost a national obsession for Japan in the Eighties - the film was among a string of outlandish teen fantasies from visionary director Nobuhiko Obayashi and producer Haruki Kadokawa, the man behind some of the biggest Japanese blockbusters of all time though his legacy was tarnished by a controversial private life. Their popular though undeniably idiosyncratic collaborations often came across like some crazed attempt to fuse elements from John Hughes, Steven Spielberg and Tony Scott into one movie.

The Aimed School sees Obayashi uphold the same surrealist sensibility and relentless visual experimentation that marked his seminal horror opus House (1977). Kicking off with a trippy animated prologue much like a disco version of the Stargate sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), the director goes out of his way to keep the pace fast and the visuals stimulating to the point of hallucinatory. Styled like a live action manga the film utilizes simple but effective optical effects to craft vivid psychedelic sequences including stop-frame photography, black and white actors placed against backdrops of oversaturated colour, and extraordinary cel animated sci-fi imagery. It also has a distinctly oddball and cartoon-like sense of humour encompassing broad physical comedy and downright bizarre visual gags including one running joke involving a mysterious leather-clad gay character lurking in the background. The plot takes a while to get going with teenage troubles and sitcom antics keeping the whole psychic angle in the background for a long while. Things pick up once creepy golden-eyed Takasawa arrives on the scene and Obayashi unveils his real agenda which is a stinging critique of latent fascism in Japanese society.

Takasawa manages to convince students and faculty that freedom is no substitute for order and political gain. Impressed by her ability to control the more unruly students, most of the teachers pull in line while the few dissenters like hot-tempered gym teacher Yamagata (Koichi Miura) suffer mysterious accidents. Yuka’s nerdy arch-rival Arikawa happily cosies up to the new regime and soon the new student union starts patrolling the campus, marching around in Nazi like uniforms, giving power salutes while suppressing dissent. The film functions effectively as a satire though far from an effective riposte to fascism the central message espoused by Yuka’s father (“Live for today, tomorrow will take care of itself”) smacks of Eighties consumer boom naivety. The last half hour goes completely bonkers with extraterrestrial plot twists, rambling philosophical arguments and mind-blowing psychedelic battles. As a story it is off-the-wall though a triumph of cinematic ingenuity, audacity and sheer fun.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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