by Alexander Rojas
This DVD is available for purchase at HKFlix.com.
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Blue Spring brings to a viewer’s attention issues of youth alienation, the demise of education, and the cynical, nihilistic approach to life in Japanese society. There have been many other films in recent Japanese cinema that have portrayed disaffected youths, lost in a sadistic hierarchy of a school system, desensitized by acts of extreme violence and using the impression of sexual innocence as a means for manipulation.
Although other countries have films with similar themes, Japan’s portrayal of its youth culture is presented with poetic and magical imagery. At times, the performances are stoic and unemotional, but then they erupt in anger and aggression. Films such as All About Lily Chou-Chou, Fudoh: The Next Generation, Suicide Club, and Blue Spring are part of this wave of Japanese cinema.
The character of Kugo, played by actor Ryuhei Matsuda (Gohatto), embodies most of these characteristics as he plays a baby-faced teenager who wins the role of gang leader of his faction in the senior class by way of a peculiar game of dare. The gang leader is determined by hanging from a rooftop fence and clapping one’s hands several times while letting go of the fence and then reaching for it at the end of a series of claps. The one person who claps the most times and remains hanging on is the winner. They then take the role of gang leader. Once Kujo comes into power, several people in the group question his ability to run the gang. They turn on him and Kujo appears to be a lot more fierce than expected. Kujo however expresses very little and the gang under him begins to unravel as his best friend Aoki (Hirofumi Arai) confronts him and starts a faction against his once best friend. It is not territory or power that is at stake here, but self worth. Kujo is coming to understand or the very least ponder such a concept, while others are consumed by the power struggle around them. Those familiar with a recent Japanese film, Battle Royale (2000), will understand the kind of students that roam the high school hallways in Blue Spring.
Most of these Japanese films dealing with disaffected youths bring several questions to mind. Although the home-life of these youths would be the most logical area to look at first, it is the school environment and system that seems to catch the interest of many Japanese filmmakers. Why the school? What is it about this environment that enables violence? Is it the uniforms?
Alexander Rojas gives the year of 2003 2-1/2 stars. It had a horrible start, went nowhere for far too long and came apart at the end. Its only saving grace was the partial nudity.
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