Arch Angels

Year: 2006
 Oda Issei
Rating: 5.0

I had last watched this in 2006 when we were programming the New York Asian Film Festival and needed to add a few more slots. I think I voted yes on this one, but after seeing it again I have to wonder why. Japanese school girls probably. Films with Japanese school girls almost always sold out for us - Kamikaze Girls, Hana and Alice, Swing Girls come to mind. Yes a commercial decision because we ran it by our personal credit cards and could not afford to lose money. It was always pretty close for those first years. So this one snuck in there and I was curious to see it again. In our defense a few other film festivals showed it as well.

Not that it's terrible - we had some standards - but it is rather preciously silly - for teenage girls and pervs I guess. It is like a live Manga with cute being its main attribute - full of gorgeous make believe colors, bits of animation, a CGI dog, some imaginative special effects and of course a plethora of Japanese school girls in uniform. The director Oda Issei does a lot more in the world of special effects than as a director (only 3 credits) - having done the effects for Spiral, Long Dream, Tomie: Forbidden Fruit and Assassination Classroom among his credits.

An imaginary world is created - a Catholic girl's school called St. Michael's Academy that is in a French renaissance setting with a cathedral, lush gardens and grounds where the Japanese girls are expected to behave like proper little ladies and the purpose of the school is to produce good wives and mothers. None of this feels real - like a daydream of someone's - and it just gets stranger. Fumio (Ueno Juri - Swing Girls - the sax) is a new transfer - she now lives with her long lost brother after her mother died and he is inexplicably a Prince living in a huge mansion where the dining table is so long that they can't hear each other. She finds the school absurd and the French food and teas awful - so sneaks out to cook and eat chicken ramen - very declassee - where two of her fellow students discover her and quickly throw away their superior airs of formality and join her in a ramen orgy of taste.

These two new friends are Kazune (Seki Megumi - the Death Note TV series) and Yuzuko (Taira Airi - the three 20th Century Boys) and soon the three friends discover the ramen has given them powers - Fumio with great strength, Kazune with fighting abilities and Yuzuko able to send out electric jolts. This all comes in handy when a few of their classmates are kidnapped to be sold into slavery - and they battle the villains to save them. It is all very pretty, enough cuteness to cause a rash and somewhat fun, but looking back I think I might retroactively change my vote for the record!