Stars: Juya Kasuga, Jiro Kurosawa, Raiki Komino, Masao Yamamura, Shinichiro Kanamaru and Reisa Maekawa
|This film was an official selection at the 10th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix in 2014. Here's an index to my reviews of 2014 films.|
What happens is easy to describe but tough to relate because it makes more sense the more background a particular viewer might have in Japanese culture. We're watching Akira, a skateboarder played by Junya Kasuga but presumably named for the actual skater doing the stuntwork, Akira Imamura. He answers his phone to hear a typically kawaii voice tell him that he's standing on a forbidden manhole, one registered under the B-Class Cultural Heritage Association. As he looks down, she explains that, 'As a penalty of this violation we will viciously attack you for the next 3 minutes.' She really isn't kidding either, adding that, 'If you do not die, we'd like to present you a special prize!' She even finishes with a cute, 'Good luck!' as the manhole lifts and some sort of laser weapon peers out from underneath, focusing on Akira's chest. It waits politely for those three minutes to begin and he discovers that he needs to be off and running with great speed! I don't believe this film could remotely work in any other culture, but here it's perfect.
Everyone involved warrants praise. I don't know if Hariu or Maruyama was responsible for the use of slow motion, but one of the most tired effects in film looks utterly fresh here because this is precisely what slo-mo is for. There's a great use of dolly work to lift the camera above the city as Akira turns and look down at his progress. The editing is razor sharp, courtesy of Hariu in collaboration with Tomoyuki Kujirai and Masaki Mizuno, who both also worked with him on the visual effects. That editing works seamlessly with a wonderful use of subtitles and credits, which never settle for boring old conventions. Transitions between shots look wonderful too. The electronic score by Jaermulk Mansfield and Soichi Terada is appropriate for the action, the insanity and the inevitable irony waiting for the conclusion. Everything is perfect, down to the awesomely underwhelming prize for survival. This was the best way to finish up a sci-fi shorts set and I've enjoyed it many times since, courtesy of the DVD Hariu gave me. Arigatou gozaimasu, Yuji-san!
B-Class Cultural Heritage can be watched for free on Vimeo and YouTube.