New York Asian Film Festival ‣ 今日から俺は!!

The 20th Anniversary New York Asian Film Festival takes place August 6th through August 22nd both with both virtual and in-person screenings. Go to nyaff.org for more details.

My initial thought after watching the first five minutes of From Now On It’s My Turn!, a shotgun blast of petty rivalries, grand mal overacting and wirework assisted slapstick dust-ups,was that there was no way they’d be able to maintain this level of manic frenzy for the entirety of their nearly two hours runtime.

And of course, they don’t.

That would get pretty intolerable, pretty quickly.

But they do manage to retain the fun spirit that animates that opening scene and reign it in just enough that the two hours passes with relative ease.

Adapted from a manga by Hiroyuki Nishimori, the story is pretty basic high school rivalry stuff; a world where “thugs” and “the weak” are essentially social classes all it’s own. Past the whirlwind of names and places in the intro, things quickly settle into the simple story of a gang of thugs from Hokunei High transferring to Akeisha High School, which is in the midst of a power vacuum due to the abdication of their thug chieftans Satoshi and Sagora.

There are many other schools vying for dominance, but they are forced to put their animosities aside to combat the Hokunei crew, who are malevolent and dangerous in a way that the other schools can’t abide.

Of course the plot is pretty much just a clothesline for fight scenes and cartoony gags…. not that there’s anything wrong with that.

In fact, one thing the film gets very right is how they navigate the transition between manga and live action; this definitely doesn’t feel like they’re trying to capture the energy of an anime here; for lack of a better word, there’s a stateliness that feels more like a proper translation of the panel gag to motion picture. And ultimately, that probably helps in terms of being able to maintain interest for the majority of the run time; despite the length, there’s not nearly as much fat as there could have been.

Mind you, it helps that the fights are pretty damn solid. And frequent.

And it’s also helpful that these details are effectively ironed out because the characters don’t make much of an impression past their elaborately ridiculous haircuts (which again, are impressively accurate to the manga-esque aesthetic)

Not to say anyone’s bad; everyone delivers what’s asked of them. But the characters are pretty much just vehicles for whatever joke came into the writers minds; tough and brave when the scene calls for it or weak and cowardly when that’s funnier. The inconsistency makes it hard to get particularly attached to anyone.

In fact, one of the few major demerits of the movie is that the single best character, the fight obsessed Kyoko (Kanna Hashimoto), has so little to do. Hashimoto steals every last scene she’s in, and even though her bits with sidekick Akemi (Yumo Wakatsuki) are essentially the same gag over and over again, their chemistry feels solid enough for the pair to headline a story all their own.

Which brings to mind another interesting aspect of the movie: it’s very duo oriented. Every faction in the movie is represented by a pair of characters, which at times makes it feel like a pile-up at the buddy comedy factory, and it’s interesting to see how each duo plays off of one another, and the other pairs running around. The fiendish Hokunei High duo of Yanage and Otake (Yuyu Yagira and Eishin, respectively), cut a menacing figure and have a nice antagonistic chemistry the de facto protagonists Mistuhashi (Kento Kaku) and Ito (Kentaro Ito), who in turn bounce off of hapless rivals Imai(Taiga Nakano) and Tanagawa (Yuma Yamoto) to humorous effect… Imai is the Daffy Duck to Mitsuhashi’s Bugs Bunny and their interplay is among the more enjoyable running gags in the movie.

It all ends in a massive rumble, and without going too far into spoilers, the conclusion is more interesting than it might have been otherwise due to a strange choice that I have to assume plays better for people more familiar with the manga than to fresh viewers with no prior knowledge. It was a weird call, but added a slight frission of unpredictability that didn’t go entirely unappreciated.

As a comedy fan, I’m on the firm opinion that no film should be two hours long, because funny has diminishing returns like no other kind of reaction. But there are exceptions, and From Today It’s My Turn! might just be one of them.


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