Fly Me to the Saitama (2019) Poster

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A funny, pleasantly ridiculous and hyper-exaggerated take on regional rivalries and stereotypes
themadmovieman11 April 2019
Regional rivalries always make for fun and games, whatever the country. Think of the hilarious Italian comedy Welcome To The South, and any other variation of regional divides around the world, and you have the set-up for Fly, Saitama, which takes a focus at the rivalry between prefectures in Japan's Kanto region.

With a good sense of humour and a pleasantly playful and manic atmosphere throughout, the movie is a fully enjoyable watch, combining on-the-nose regional comedy with a bizarre yet surprisingly appropriate and effective fantasy story. Although Fly, Saitama occasionally does get a little too caught up in its own fantasy world, and misses the mark when delivering that core comedy as the first and foremost, it definitely has the energy and humour to entertain you all the way through.

Let's start off, though, with how easy it is to understand the more specific cultural references and gags in this film for non-Japanese. If you know absolutely nothing about these regions, then it's likely a lot of the most specific jokes will go over your head (like people from Chiba Prefecture being obsessed with peanuts, or Gunma being an uncivilised, prehistoric land). However, the rivalry between the elite, big city of Tokyo and what is effectively a grubbier suburb in the shape of Saitama is easy to relate to from the start, so everyone can join in and enjoy even if they don't have a personal invesment in this regional rivalry.

So, much like the brilliant Welcome To The South, Fly, Saitama is accessible and entertaining to a wider international audience. What's more is that, even when it's not poking fun at any one of the prefectures in the region, the film's manic energy allows it to prove just as enjoyable all the same. Featuring rapid-fire comedy that keeps jokes coming all the way through, you're bound to find yourself laughing at some point, even if not every joke lands as intended.

Away from the comedy, the most striking thing about Fly, Saitama is its use of an exaggerated fantasy world as an allegory for the various regional disputes and quarrells. While the core ideas of the rivalry are clear from the start, bringing them into the context of a semi-futuristic setting that's almost totally devoid from reality means that there's a lot more freedom to play up even the tiniest little things and make fun of them.

So, Tokyo is a glistening metropolis, Chiba is a medieval world by the sea, and Saitama is a devastated wasteland. In that, the film really shows just how much fun it is having by playing with these regional stereotypes and ideas, and through that very style, it allows you to join in and enjoy it to the full, without ever worrying about being seriously offensive or unfair to any one of the various sides.

It's a fun and unique concept that works really well for the intended effect, but the one reservation that I do have about Fly, Saitama is that it occasionally indulges itself a little too much in that fantasy world, moving focus away from the core sense of humour.

In effect, the film turns out as a sort of fantasy movie with jokes about Saitama, whereas it would have been best if it had stayed as a joke about Saitama peppered with a bit of fantasy. As a result, some parts where the movie goes into full manga mode may turn some viewers off, as the focus unfortunately drifts away from its cleverest and most entertaining premise.

Overall, though, I had a lot of fun with Fly, Saitama. A delightfully ridiculous and energetic take on regional divides and rivalries in Central-East Japan, with good humour and a playful attitude throughout as it takes the premise into a hyper-exaggerated fantasy world. It may get a little over-involved in its own fantasy, and move the focus a bit too much away from the core humour, but on the whole, it's a thoroughly enjoyable and pleasantly manic watch.
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A terribly great film.
duaincameron22 March 2019
The name on IMDB is crazy. It's not the same as the manga and makes no grammatical sense.

Anyway, Fly, Saitama is terrible. The acting is over the top, the universe it creates in inconsistent, the directing is flat... and I LOVE IT!!

Not despite, because of these flaws, the film is so enjoyable as everybody is in on the ridiculousness of it all. The only real problem I can see is that the jokes are very location specific. Some of the jokes are just one word and that's a place in Saitama. If you don't know that place, or you don't know the people from Saiatama, the jokes may just fall flat.

That (and IMDB's stupid naming) aside, I can still recommend that you give it a try. You may just have a lot of fun!
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Revolution, Androgyny and Mayhem Rolled Into One Gorgeous Package
alisonc-123 July 2019
Momomi (Fumi Nikaido) is the son of the governor of Tokyo, a prestige position that puts him in the top echelon at his school, where he is (naturally) President of the students. When Rei Asami (Gackt) joins the school from America, Momomi's position is threatened; Rei is exotic, smart *and* beautiful. Momomi wants to dispose of Rei, but cannot. But then he learns that Rei is actually from Saitama, a degraded part of Japan that has no sea and therefore is considered worthless, its people even more so - people from there even need visas to enter Tokyo! But *then* Momomi's hatred for Rei turns to something else, and they join forces to lead Saitama's people from oppression to freedom....

Some 5 years ago, I was privileged to see "Thermae Romae," a Japanese film in which a modern Japanese man enters a bath in his world and emerges in the baths in ancient Rome; it was easily one of the most inventive, funny and memorable films I saw that year. So when I saw that "Fly Me" was made by the same director, I knew I had to see it. And I certainly was not disappointed! The above description only scratches the surface, as I didn't mention the framing device or all the complications of the many other characters. Suffice it to say that director Hideki Takeuchi brings in whimsy, mixed-up historical detail from real periods in Japanese history, scary monsters that turn out to be something much different, corruption in government, hilarious moments and the most androgynous characters (something that seems to be a "thing" in Japanese cinema), along with a bit of innocent love and dastardly deeds. Oh, did I mention absurdity? Yum!
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Watch for fun
nadinecnatour23 June 2019
Funny and hyper-stylized superhero tale about the triumph of the ordinary. Enjoyed watching this even without catching all of the cultural references. The song in the end credits is particularly hilarious.
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Good Enough
pennyelenabooks8 November 2019
" Fly me to saitama " was not my cup of tea, but there were some aspects of it that I did appreciate.

First of all, this movie is not for everyone. It must not be taken seriously and there is no real meaning behind it. However, the pace of the story was pretty good, with the adventure having a nice start and a dynamic ending. The production was really good too, with the costumes being top notch, as well as the settings. It is slightly bothered me that the grandson was played by an actress and not an actor, even though she did a great job with her character.

So, overall, six out of ten.
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