Fantasia 2017 Review: TEIICHI: BATTLE OF SUPREME HIGH Mixes High School Politics With Hilarious Comedy
Kaitei College, once a naval academy, it now educates and trains the future leaders of the country. If you want a future in politics in the country of Japan then this is the school you must be at.
Akaba Teiichi ‘s dream is to become Prime Minister and create his own country. As the son of a minister who lost a government election to his rival by one vote Teiichi places enormous pressure on himself to advance through the ranks of the student council. So, ss a freshman he must align himself with whomever he sees has the best chance of becoming next year’s student council president. Should he align with the popular angel-haired Himuro Rorando or with the enigmatic Morizo Okuto. Choose wisely and his path is set to becoming student council president at Kaitei College one year, then Prime Minister of Japan!
Teiichi was once a gifted pianist but he gave that up to pursue his (father’s) dreams of political advancement. He is in a relationship with Shiratori Mimiko, but he wants to keep it secret lest it have a negative effect on his career path. So they talk to each other at night via the old analog cups and string, though he only be on the other side of the gated entrance to Mimiko’s home.
At Teiichi’s side is his right-hand man Sakakibara Komei, nothing if not a touch androgynous but an expert at eavesdropping on their rivals. He is wholly devoted to Teiichi, if not in a bit in love with him as well. Always in Teiichi’s face is his long time rival, Togo Kikuma, the son of his father’s rival, who constantly berates Teiichi and gives him nipple twists whenever he can. Whomever Teiichi aligns himself with Kikuma will be sure to be on the other side trying to destroy him. Finally, there is the nonchalant Otaka Dan, who came to the school on a scholarship and it winning over people by simply being a nice guy. He does not buy into this student council business and acts a voice of calm and reason throughout the film, which baffles everyone else who believes that careers are made and broken at the high school politics level.
The subject of politics and political systems around the World has probably never been as popular as it is now. Because it has largely been a negative experience to have something satirize the subject and inject potent shots of humor into the mix comes as a welcome surprise. All of the wheelings and dealings and behind the back gestures of politics are well and present in Nagai Akira’s adaptation of Furuya Usamaru’s manga by his writer Izumi Yoshihiro.
Allegiances and alliances will rise and fall, day in and day out, as the election goes on. Teiichi has to navigate these tumultuous waters and make sure that he is on the winning side when the ballots are cast. At the same time Kikuma is constantly trying to destroy him, even seeking his father’s help in taking Teiichi down through his own father.
What makes a film like Battle of Supreme High work, despite all the political back and forth, as light as it is, is the performance from its lead, Suda Masaki, and sharp injections of comedy through to the final act. There is a part of Japanese comedy that explodes out of the normal, be it by a facial expression or sharp rise in the vocals. Out from the passive pace, from these moments Masaki excels, pulling a face or raising his voice suddenly. There are some moments between him and his father, taking the entrance exam that Dan took to see who was smarter, discovering the lineage of one of the student council nominees and how his family is involved, these moments between Teiichi and his father are amazing and laugh out loud hilarious. Humor gives way to the drama of the election but comes about at the end to wrap things up nicely.
Teiichi also has to come to understand how these elections are affecting his friendships and relationships. His friendships with Komei and Dan. His relationships with his father and his girlfriend, Mimiko. These are all affected by his desire to advance to the school’s political system. And will he still maintain that his dream is to become Prime Minister of Japan and create his own country, or, will go back to his first love, playing piano. In the end only Teiichi knows that for certain. Maybe it was all part of his plan all along.
Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High appears to have fallen under the radar when it played during the first week of the Fantasia International Film Festival. For those of us who have been overwhelmed by the state of geo-politics of late this is a fun-injected alternative, with moments of laugh out loud hilarity throughout. Headed by a strong performance from its lead, Suda Masaki, it takes the piss out of local politics and provides an oasis against the din of the real politicians around us.
Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High
- Akira Nagai
- Usamaru Furuya (manga)
- Yoshihiro Izumi (screenplay)
- Masaki Suda
- Yûdai Chiba
- Shôtarô Mamiya
- Mei Nagano