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Shinjuku Boy Detectives
Year: 1998
Director: Masafumi Fuchii
Cast: Yu Yokoyama, Masaki Aiba, Kyoko Fukada, Jun Matsumoto, Ai Kato
The Skinny: A director, production unit, film scorer, editor, actors, and screenwriter have to work in perfect harmony, under just the right conditions, to make a film this bad.
by RainDog:

     A cross between a Saturday morning live-action kids' show and a dull straight-to-video sci-fi movie, Shinjuku Boy Detectives is the time-honored Japanese tale of obnoxious little kids fighting and winning against unbelievably lame evil. The story begins when Sosuke (Masaki Aiba), a rather bossy high school boy, goes to investigate a scream and finds a lonely girl whose neediness apparently makes people flee in terror. A robotic beast menaces Sosuke very briefly, steals the girl away, and he finds a glowy pendant. From here, Sosuke enlists the help of a some fellow high school kids (two of whom, logically, are girls) and all of them are recruited into the Shinjuku Boy Detectives by some guy wearing wrist ruffles. To figure out the mystery, the kids must face such horrors as eating at Wendy's, dealing with some not-very-serious parental issues, looking at really bad graffiti, and going to school. Finally, in the last twenty minutes of the movie, they confront and triumph against evil (an old scientist who I swear is drunk) aided by the power of, um, friendship or something. Luckily for us, the story leaves the possibility for a sequel wide-open.
     What's weird is that if you're going to make a movie like this (and there's nothing wrong with making a movie like this) you should at least try to make it exciting. But this movie doesn't try. In the first hour, the robotic beast is thwarted from growling at the kids by a raygun-wielding guy dressed like a 1930s American detective, and that's as exciting as things get until the final sequence of the film. The movie instead focuses on trying to make us care about these kids and their relationships with each other and their parents, but there's really nothing going on here in the screenplay or the acting that lends any spark of camaraderie or pathos. For instance, there's a scene of the kids having a picnic that goes on too long, and does nothing but artificially try to convince us that these kids would have something to do with one another in real life. This is a movie that obviously wants to connect with the kid market and also provide an exciting story, but neither has its cake nor the ability to eat it.
     What's slightly odd is that the director - while not a great talent - has a small following, and Kyoko Fukada (playing Mika, one of the detectives) actually has respectable acting experience. However, nearly all the other actors (including leads who are not-surprisingly teen pop stars in their day jobs), an unfortunate music score (done primarily, I think, using a Casio keyboard), and a script that meanders from the pointless to the not-very-exciting all serve to make this movie difficult to remember an hour after you've watched it.
     Anyone thinking of buying or renting this disk would be much better served hunting down something like Zeram (Zeiramu) or an Ultraman Tiga movie - stupid, mindless, and goofy Japanese sci-fi flicks that at least know what it means to have fun. (RainDog 2002)


DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Japanese Language Track
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

 Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen