School in the Crosshairs
Director: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi
Year: 1981
Rating: 6.0

AKA -The Aimed School

Directed by Nobuhiko Ôbayashi, most famous in the West for his film, House, takes another stab at the supernatural with this teenage tale of psychic powers. About teenagers and made for teenagers. It feels mainly to be a vehicle for cutie-pie Hiroko Yakushimaru, who with this film and Sailor Suit and Machine Gun in the same year became a teen idol. And after the teen idol phase wore out, she has gone on to a fine career until the current day - in the Always: Sunset on Third street series that I like so much. But it was her photo shooting a machine gun in Sailor Suit that still comes to mind.

This is fairly clunky as it eventually drowns itself in a miasma of really poor special effects and honestly I can't recall if in 1981 these would have been passable but now they are just corny as hell. Or depending on your view, nostalgically endearing. At first I thought I had entered your typical high school pervert film as the camera leers from underneath glass steps to spy up girl's dresses and then takes great satisfaction in Hiroko drinking slowly from a water fountain. I thought - hey maybe this will be sort of an early Bounce Ko Gals styled film. The director is after all credited with creating “Lolicon” (“Lolita complex”) in Japan.  Not to be though - Nobuhiko seems to get that perv strain out of his system and remembers that this is a film for teens.

It is the first day of the new school year and all seems normal. Yuka (Hiriko) and her male friend Koji make their way to school among all the others. Yuka is that perfect Japanese school girl; number one in class, polite to everyone, obedient to her parents - but also very popular because she is a total sweetie. On their way home the two of them spot a child about to be run over and Yuka is able to stop it from happening - she has just discovered that she has mental powers! She later uses them to help Koji win a kendo match. Hey, this is fun. But not for long as a creepy fellow from Venus shows up to tell her they are partners to control the world to which Yuka says nonchalantly let me think about it. And a new girl, Takamizawa, shows up and begins to take control of the school through her powers and begins turning it into a fascistic regime with patrols in uniform disciplining any student who gets out of line and punishing anyone who doesn't agree with the new rules. I expect that this is social commentary on the rigid Japanese school system. But it is up to our cutie-pie to save the day and return the school to its fun loving days. And the special effects go into hallucinatory overdrive.