I’m sure I’ve never seen anything quite like “The Cherry Bushido”. It’s terrible – not even in a way that I tend to want from my demon-strewn, karate, karate-strewn international war polemics. But this movie means every talk about the power of religious faith and the restoration of Japanese might (and boy, are there many). It’s also not a joke about every samurai sword swing, even though most of them are equally troublesome. I’m talking about the kind of entertainment where as soon as three young women in martial arts robes stand ready for action, back to back, comes a piano-kissed rock song that this stationary bike from a movie suddenly summons the zest to pedal hard.
Plot-wise, the Invented Republic of Sodorrah continues to send test missiles over Japan. And a group of young patriotic spiritualist activists enlist a student named Shizuka (Yoshiko Sengen; voiced by Kana Shimanuki) to help save Japan from this film of its military past and current government obliviousness. Enough with this talk of diplomacy and sanctions; Japan must defend itself in the manner of ancient Japanese traditions, she writes in an op-ed on the response to Sodorrah – which, given the arrows pointing from a location on the film’s map to Japan, looks a lot like China .
Shizuka suffers from nuclear Armageddon nightmares that match a divine prophecy of Japan’s destruction. But this real-world threat trumps all of the trips to the film’s spirit realm, where the glowing essences of Shizuka and the gang emerge from their physical bodies to do battle against the great demon of Hades and his dozens of goons. masked. (Ryuji Kasahara wears a lot of Halloween makeup to play the Great Demon, and he’s the only person here really willing to go.)
It’s the perfect time for a movie about a belligerent national neighbor and super-strong patriotism; for a film with a theme song whose lyrics were translated as: “It’s not that I hate men/It’s that men are too weak/I can’t find stronger than me.” But the film was written by Sayaka Okawa and directed by Hiroshi Akabane with great eager student energy who needs you to know everything he knows, including centuries of Japanese military affairs and how Japan was ruthless. his neighbors during World War II, to begin with. The film deploys archival footage to engage as much. (Apparently this is news for Shizuka and her nationalist courage.)
So an air of retributive justice hangs over this thing like a cloud. It’s a whole mess of ideology and theology, flowing robes, flying fists, karma, camp, can’t and can’t: can’t act, can’t kick, can’t cannot collect art.
Rated PG-13. Duration: 2 hours 5 minutes. In theaters.