Sayaka Kudo is a gyaru who wears miniskirts and dyes her hair blonde. Although she is a 2nd year senior high school student, she is on par academically with 4th grade elementary school students. She frequently transfers between school because she is unable to make friends, and was once suspended for being caught with cigarettes. To prepare her for her university entrance examination, her mother decides to send her to Seiho Cram School. However, when the school director, Yoshitaka Tsubota, hears about Sayaka's academic problem, he makes it his personal achievement to help her enter the university of her choice, Keio University, a prestigious university that is considered one of the most difficult to enter in Japan. After her father labels her an "air-head", Sayaka became determined to study hard to prove her father wrong. Over the course of the summer holidays of her second year through to the exams at the end of her third year in senior high school, Sayaka studies extremely hard. She ...
The novel that this movie based on is a true story about the author himself Nobutaka Tsubota, who runs a private institute, and his student Sayaka Kobayashi. See more »
The cast is seen during different scenes singing together in groups along with the closing theme song. See more »
More Than A Chick Flick For Tennyboppers?
Viewed at CineMatsuri 2016. Director Nobuhiro Doi trodes the well-worn path of the home drama genre by delivering a standard family sitcom complete with role stereotypes, caricatures, and silliness masquerading as drama/comedy. This feel-good, sophomoric, movie fantasy would seem more appropriate for domestic TV viewers than movie theater audiences. The Director ensures that there will be no surprises (except maybe one) by aggressively telegraphing future events. The possible exception is the sudden and radical change in hair styles! Lead actress Kasumi Arimura never completely leaves her juvenile "Japanese cuteness" baggage behind as she progresses (at warp speed!) from bottom of the class in public secondary school to acceptance by a prestigious private university via a year (or so) of private, cram-school coaching. Acting by Atsushi Itô playing the cram school teacher/psychologist/philosopher/hand-holder/parent/would be lover/... is hard to swallow almost from the start and even more so as his character morphs into a caricature. Actress Yoh Yoshida takes on the typical role of a career-frustrated and long-suffering mother, but does so with aplomb; she consistently delivers the best (and most believable) acting in the film. All that being said (and at the risk of speculative over analysis), there is, perhaps, another angle to be considered: soft core propaganda with Doi's channeling of Mary Poppins (and her use of sugar to camouflages the bitter taste of medicine). The Director may be employing a cleaver multi-layered pop entertainment wrapper to disguise his lectures on pressing societal issues. Targeted multi-generational audiences have seen programs of this genre before (they seem to be a staple of contemporary Japanese TV) which only adds to the effectiveness of the sugar coating. First up, of course, is the theme of the film which is an unrelenting indictment of the Japanese public school system with its focus on mass rote learning (with zero consideration given to individual student needs) and it's failure to prepare students to think for themselves as they become adults. Replacing public schools with privately chartered ones is the unmistakable message (sound familiar?). Then there is the negative impact of traditional child rearing where parents force children into a career path that the adults were denied or unable to succeed in. Student bullying or group-enforced conformity to the lowest educational level of achievement is also covered. (And there could be a few more packed in there.) The film is way too long (by half) and boringly repetitious. The screen play (and direction) look suspiciously like they may have been puffed up to increase the film's duration. Cinematography (semi-wide screen, color), lighting, scene continuity, and film score are okay. Subtitles often provide less than accurate (or complete) translations of line readings, and, essentially, can present a parallel story to the one in the movie! Many signs are not translated. Fun to watch, but only with a ton of popcorn! WILLIAM FLANIGAN, PhD.
6 of 30 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this