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Blow the Night

March 23, 2019

“BLOW THE NIGHT ! ” 夜をぶっとばせ) (1983)

Incoherent, yet fascinating youth docu-drama from Japan’s golden era of educational problems (*). The film opens with live recording of The Street Sliders performing their rock hit “Masturbation” (?!) and then proceeds cut back and forth between two separate storylines for the rest of the movie. The first one features a band-affiliated girl (Kazumi Kawai) exploring the ambivalent Tokyo in a strictly specified 24 hour timeframe in mid November. The other follows a transfer student (real life delinquent Namie Takada) being a bully bitch in different, loosely specified timeframe spanning about one year and partially overlapping with the 1st story.

There’s a bit of director Chusei Sone’s own rock film Red Violation (1980) here, as well as youth doc style parts that actually resemble Shinji Somai’s divine Taifu Club (1985). It’s realistic and bleak with an unsympathetic lead, challenging partly because it’s so confusing, and yet utterly fascinating in its documentation of youth, era, and location. It feels like the flawed work of a genius who wasn’t in a complete control of his device.

Sone produced this via his own company Film Workers as their first picture, following the thematically similar but far more high-flying sun tribe modernization The Young Ramblers (1981) for Toei Central.

*Japanese cinema and television saw the emergence violent high school films ranging from girl gang films (Girls’ Junior High School, 1970-1971; Terrifying Girl’s High School, 1972-1973) to biker flicks (The Classroom of Terror, 1976), yakuza satires (Sailor Suit and Machine Gun, 1981), rock films (Majoran, 1984) and comic book action (Be-bop High School, 1985-1988; Sukeban Deka, 1985-1987; Rebellion League of Girls in Sailor Uniform, 1986) in the 70s and 80s. This seems to have been at least in part reflecting what was happening in the real Japanese society.

The post WWII Japan had experienced a period of respect towards educators as people saw education as a way out of poverty, but with the economic miracle and improved living conditions it seems some students seized to see teachers as invaluable. At the same time high school entrance rates were gradually going towards the roof (today it’s nearly 100%) as entrance became something that was expected of everyone. Soon every dumbass regardless of academic skill and suitability was going to high school. Unsurprisingly, problems would escalate especially in lower level private schools that accepted essentially any student whose parents were willing to pay tuition. There were students who were yankis or bosozoku biker gang members, and violence, bullying and even suicides ensued.

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