A prequel to ‘Wizard of Darkness’, covered yesterday, telling us how Misa Kuroi, Magical Occult Girl of Apathy, became the milquetoast badass we know and… look upon her with indifference as everyone else is cooler.
In today’s film instead of wandering around a school of occult enthuisiasts repeatedly saying ‘I’m a witch’, in the same way Yosser Hughes from ‘Boys from the Black Stuff’ walked around trying to get a job or Groot said ‘I am Groot’, is instead today is a damsel in distress being dragged around a town by her carer as zombified people (but only one pursues them at a time so maybe it’s a demon possessing people’s corpses) slowly follow after them. It’s classic low budget ‘within the speed limit’ hi-octane action with a shot of Diazepam just in case it blows your mind!
So we begin with little Misa being put through an occult ceremony to indoctrinate her into the lifestyle. Her carer is a pretty boy with make up on. There are lots of baritone voices and hooded robes and because of the first film you might suspect these are all teenage girls they make sure to show the old men’s faces. Misa is scared because this is ‘bad satanic’ occult magic and she is all about that good ‘dark protection’ magic involving occult pentagrams of protection. Or maybe the old men just scare her as they’re probably going commando under those robes. We never find out…
Years pass and the pretty boy now looks older. Those with their genre savvy Spidey-sense tingling already know he is going to die at some point in a melodramatic sacrificial way. Maybe to protect Misa, maybe as part of an occult ceremony which motivates her… you;ll just have to keep reading to find out.
There is a fat, bald guy stalking them pretending he is a robotic zombie. He isn’t a pretty boy so obviously he must be evil according to movie logic. Actually he is just a random guy possessed and made to chase Misa and the carer silently. Or is he? Dun Dun Durr…
At some point a police captain gets possessed and shoots his subordinates in a small police hut office as the carer and Misa pass through.
‘Taicho-sama, I’ve looked up to you ever since I was a boy! Ever since I played with my friends on the street and saw you patrolling. Taicho-sama! I remember your smile as you watched us play in the park. Taicho-sama! Taicho-sama it’s because of you I wanted to be a police officer! Taicho-sama! Taicho-sama! I lov-“
Bang, bang, bang… Bang.
Character development. Just like the teenage girls from the first film.We never see any consequences of this ever again. It’s comical in a way and reminded me of the following skit.
Then we have a long flash back of exposition. Misa (Kimika Yoshino) is the messiah of the occult, intended as a sacrifice or something like that. Who knows? Who cares? It’s a chase film like Terminator. The flashback gets overly whimsical as if this is meant to be a different genre of movie. Actually this might have been when the starting bit was and we only saw a glimpse at the start. It makes no difference – it’s all in the past now.
Fat man go boom.
End of the fake out antagonist… or is it? Dun dun durr…
Now a pig-tail haired girl, who was one of Misa’s friends during the time when she was hiding out in the open by going to a normal high school… under her real name… because apparently they underestimated the thing trying to kill them, is the new stalker acting like a zombie robot. The drama has suddenly intensified! Will Misa have the strength of character to kill her friend? Oh no pigtails-chan we hardly had time to care for you before you went evil! And because you are ‘cute’ we as the audience must feel this is far worse a tagedy that an overweight, middle aged, adult being possessed and blown up unceremoniously. We will never forget how you used to giggle with your friends and… um… uh… let me think a second… hmm… okay… yup…umm.. yeah, that’s it I guess… “Character development”.
Misa starts reading some mystical script and the room shakes. Cool ‘old guy’ carer, because anyone over 25 is immediately deemed old and over the hill according to Japanese drama, tells her not to do that. Stern face… Stern pout to camera to make the housewives’ knees tremble. She has her locket from the first film. They keep showing it. Oh good is she going to be saved by another ex-machina? Her guardian loses faith. ‘No Sempai don’t lose faith’! They kiss. Well that was kind of awkward. He is definitely a dead man walking now according to movie logic. He tells her he loved her mother. Okay now that is really awkward…
This is no ‘long running TV soap opera’ drama that’s run out of original storylines and needs to get a ratings boost! Wee need less emotion, more action! Cue random battle in the long grass!
(Cue Pokemon battle music)
Carer-kun uses ‘Crush Grip’.
It’s successful! Carer-kun tears off Stalker-chan’s arm!
Stalker-chan uses ‘Bounce’ and does so around the room while also using ‘Flail’!
It has little effect…
Carer-kun uses the move ‘Cut’!
Carer-Kun cuts Stalker-chan in half!
It’s super effective!
Stalker-chan is defeated!
Carer-kun gains some EXP!
(Cue Pokemon battle victory music).
But shock revelation! He is now vunerable to the robot stalker spirit possession having used the last of his strength for a needlessly dramatic kamikaze attack to defeat Stalker-chan! Oh what dramatic irony! the over protective ally is now the unstoppable purser of Misa who so far has done nothing by herself! We definitely didn’t see that coming…
No not at all…
None of us has ever seen that similar sort of bait and switch in a film ever…
Definitely, off the top of you’re head, you could name three films that pull that trope…
Within a minute Misa runs into the circular lecture theatre with a pentagram drawn on the floor and corpses strewn everywhere. She is trapped.
… why is there a lecture theatre with a pentagram already drawn on the floor? Don’t ask questions. It’ll only lead to more…
Suddenly, without precedent, Stalker Carer-Kun pulls a sword out of his forehead. No he didn’t get stabbed in the head by Misa – that would have our protagonist actually actively doing something and that is ridiculous – nor did he ever allude to this technique. No he just pulls a big old sword out of his third eye chakra. Out of the blue…
But don’t worry! Because Misa does the power speak like she’s Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings (but obviously based on the books or the Ralph Bakshi animated film as this movie was made back in teh 90s long before the Peter Jackson series…) making the world around her shudder!
Boom he is down for the count!
…Oh but wait what is this? PLOT TWIST! A space flea out of nowhere? I think it might be!
A girl in an occult robe and using a man’s voice (which is obviously a fetish of this film series) appears!
She summons a very nice looking dragon – ghost – demon – thing…
…Which instantly kills her.
Um… okay… yeah… The big bad of the film, who I never saw before, just got wasted within a minute of being introduced. Bye, bye Prototype Cult-chan at least you died a little less ridiculously than your chronological successor.
Misa walks away from the scene. Goes to the apartment she had been living in while in hiding and sees all her friends corpses. She says a Wiccan chant and we are straight into the credits with an inappropriate pop song playing.
Compare what the cover of the manga looks like and what the film looks like. This series had clear budget constraints. Again I watched it without subtitles so maybe Prototype Cult-chan was mentioned, or was one of Misa’s close freinds (again) but really these films have been far better just soaking it in without wasting time on needless context. Again a low budget film where most of it went on the, admittedly astonishingly good for the era, CGI of the summoned creature at the end. A bit of a change from the first film but again Misa, our ‘cool badass protagonist’, does nothing. In the 90s Japan really had a thing for these kind of ‘heroes’ who are in situations where they rely on everyone around them to be the active participants. Just look at Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion or the main couple from Battle Royale. It lets the side characters develop more but these are not ensemble films so instead you just have a blank character being processed from one scene to the next while all the more interesting potential is, quite literally in some cases, sacrificed along the way.
It’s a silly film. Watch at double speed and enjoy the silliness because even by the TV budget standards of Japan back then this seems to have been done on a shoe-string budget.
There is a third film but I didn’t bother to watch it. I hope you enjoyed this irreverent review.
For some reason the spacing of the first first paragraphs refused to space properly despite toying with it.
What appears next on this blog? That is a mystery.
Occult girl Misa Kuroi goes to a new high school to prevent the summoning of the devil by a mysterious cult. She makes no effort to hide she is a witch. Everyone in the school loves the occult thus she becomes very popular despite the fact her only line in the entire film could be ‘I am a witch’ in the manner of Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy and nothing of her characterisation would be lost…
She is what would be later considered a Mary Sue. Really she has no personality but as usual this is explained as her being ‘tacit’ or ‘stoic’ or some other excuse for ‘blank slate of acharacter the audience can project themselves onto. She is just used as a familiar ‘attractive’ face to connect a series of individual stories that wouldn’t be able to stand on their own in the minds of those the writer answers to.
Really the truth is they’ve just hired someone for her looks who cannot act a.k.a. Kamika Yoshino a gravure idol (i.e. lots of videos and photoshoots of her posing in her bra and knickers). The logic the aundience must accept: She is pretty therefore she is the good guy. End of discussion… Always… In every film, book or story that has mass appeal because that what the punters want.
In the manga apparently she has a cloak, sword and a funky looking pentagram belt. Sadly that’s a bit too exciting for this film and would have driven the budget up by another 1000 yen (£6.40/$8.91) almost doubling the budget!
All the students in this school, who already know way too much about the occult, have figured out the mystery before Misa’s arrival! The series of recent murders (the last of which opens this film in a lazy rehash of the priest’s death from ‘The Omen’) are all at georgraphical sites which, when connected, form a giant pentagram meant to summon the devil and that their high school is the nexus!
With these sort of deduction skills maybe we don’t need the Scooby gang, let alone ‘Occult Girl Misa: Magical Soldier of Indifference’, to come to the rescue…
The skinny boy/tool of the devil is apparently handsome, in that androgynous way the Japanese have loved ever since the Heian era, and due to this seems excused for being overly aggressive and shouting at the female characters constantly. This is something I often see in films – as long as a guy is handsome it is acceptable for him to treat women like dirt and not be judged for it. Although he is not the protagonist I often see this behaviour in Japanese films set in high schools.
The girls in this film seem to just let themselves be killed under the pretence of ‘oh but he’s so handsome and I have a crush on him. He would never do something like this!’ Cue the girl tripping over her own feet and being stabbed or bludgeoned to death. In fairness he was possessed but nonetheless you would think common sense, even in horror films, would suggest they run away from him. They, of course, don’t run nor do they fight back to defend themselves and thus all are posthumously given Darwin awards.
The lesbian teacher and the student she is grooming are pointless side characters used for fan service. They serve as examples of social deviants and, yes, both die. However not before the teacher is revealed as a cult member (shocking don’t you agree! Adults in teen focused dramas are not trustworthy!) and the groomed student is sacrificed to the devil.
My favourite moment of theirs is when the class are doing a test and the teacher takes the student outside for some frisky time. I watched this thinking ‘everyone would notice that and in reality would have been gossiping about the pair long before they became this blatant about it’. When will the girl do the test? Perhaps hitting sensei’s G-spot gets you an A grade?
Kuroi’s new best friend (Miho Kanno) walks up to her saying ‘wow you’re so cool’ at the start and hangs around her most of the film to basically tell anyone unfamiliar with the manga (i.e. basically all foreigners but also people with a life in Japan) that this is the heroine of the story and she is so fantastic and so stoic that it makes everyone fall in love with her instantly for being so undeniably cool. This goes on for most of the film with her playing the sidekick role overreacting to everything.
Guess what? She is the big bad villain of the piece. This wasn’t a surprise really as, by this point in the film, everyone else in the school was dead. What I found hilarious during the film is that all the cult members, when hooded, have deep baritone masculine voiceovers but as soon as the hoods are lowered it’s young women with those high pitch voices that Japanese apparently find ‘cute’. I guess the male voices were to hide the revelation that the cult was comprised of women? Hilarious nonetheless in how inane it was when revealed.
So we reach the denouement. The possessed boy is dead – how I can’t remember but considering how the murders were done via ‘no handsome-kun you’re too handsome to be evil! Then the victim girl falls over squealing before being killed by him (also squealing in her death throws) and he then wanders off, covered in blood, to find the next girl to kill’ I really couldn’t care less how he came to his end.
Teenage cult leader-chan has revealed herself and has finalised the ceremony to summon the devil. Misa can do nothing to stop it and is unceremoniously turned to ash. Yes the hero who didn’t very little just got killed. But this is based on a Japanese shonen manga so there will be some insane way she comes back.
Cult-chan summons the devil. The CGI, for the time, is admittedly really impressive as the devil looms over the school… and then Cult-chan face gets her face ripped off immediately and her innards fly up into the sky. Why? She couldn’t contain the power? The devil decided ‘nope don’t like look of your face’ and ‘tore up’ the contract via her flesh? Who knows… who cares? The devil disappears unceremoniously bringing and end to proceedings.
Disaster is avoided without the protagonist actively doing anything. If she hadn’t turned up it would have ended up exactly the same way. Misa gets resurrected by some hair she kept in the locket she wears. It was been featured earlier in the film but considering what a deus ex-machina it was I omitted mentioning it before so you could get a sense of how out of leftfield this comes.
Misa melodramatically cries over the loss of her new best friend/devil summoning Cult-chan who was the only person who could understand her. Music plays and the next thing we see is Misa walking off to the next school to solve the next occult incident at a new school…
Misa your so cool in that ‘I just happened to be there and survive despite everything going on’ way. Men want her, women want to be her…
Review: 90s Japanese film fodder starring a Gravure Idol. It’s hilarious in how bad it is. Give it a watch just to see how low budget it is. The effects for the devil were admittedly the stand out bit where most of the budget must have gone.
Did I watch this without subtitles? Damn right! Did I miss any subtleties? Well probably the cookie cutter character archetypes and some details that would be forgotten ten minutes later but this is as generic as it gets so no, no, I didn’t. If anything it improved the experience – especially when I made it move at double the speed.
I had known of this film’s existance for two decades and never got around to watching it. It was amusing but low budget, as many Japanese films tend to be as they are more of a ‘television series’ watching kind of nation. Go in expecting little of the film and you will enjoy. Go in expecting something with the budget of an American film and you will be sorely disappointed. Just remember this was based on an old manga which inevitably was popular during the 1970s occult fad Japan had during that decade and everything will be okay.
You must be logged in to post a comment.