By Roxy Simons.
Teiichi (Masaki Suda) wants to create his own empire. How’s that possible? By controlling the student council of Kaitei Supreme High School, of course. If he could run the school then Teiichi would become a shoe-in for a prestigious government position, and from there he could even become Prime Minister. With his father’s broken dreams lying at his feet, the teen is determined to do what his dad never could, and nothing, not even his love for playing the piano, will get in the way of that.
A politician is nothing without his trusted allies, though, and helping him along the way is his right-hand man Komei, whose ability to make listening devices is second to none, and Dan Otaka, a scholarship student who will do anything to protect his friends. With them on board, Teiichi just needs to figure out which of this year’s candidates to support, because if he backs the right one then he has a shot at applying to be the head of the student council next year. He has two choices: Okuto Morizo, a shogi player who wants to make the election process fairer, or Roland Himuro, a blonde, half-American student who thinks money is a sure-fire way to buy him the election. The latter is Teiichi’s initial pick, but when things descend into chaos the teen is forced to use all the skills at his disposal to ensure his victory.
Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High, which is based on Usamaru Furuya’s satirical manga of the same name, is the kind of film that isn’t afraid of its ridiculous premise. It uses slapstick comedy and over-the-top reactions from the actors to heighten its overall humour, with its protagonist even going so far as to fantasise about licking his predecessor’s shoes to profess his loyalty only to get caught by said character, and then bark like a dog in response. While his political rival Kikuma Togo often comes up with absurd schemes to try and defeat him in their twisted game of politics, all of which adds to the film’s comic effect.
Where the teen comedy finds its calling though, is with its overtly gay subtext. From Kikuma’s frequent, and deliberate, manhandling of Teiichi, to the hilarious moment where Teiichi literally throws his girlfriend Mimiko (Mei Nagano) aside to run gleefully into Komie’s arms, this is a film that knows how to cater to its fanbase. Director Akira Nagai hams things up for the audience, reflecting the film’s source material in that respect, to ensure that the boys love is so strong, and so frequent, that this male-heavy teen comedy is an unexpected paradise for fujoshi fans.
Going into Teiichi, viewers ought to know that they shouldn’t try to take things too seriously, as – if it wasn’t obvious already – this is a film that’s as silly as they come. It wears its joker badge with pride, and is just as brilliant thanks to its witty one-liners and boys-love undertones. While this is probably not the type of film that can be fully appreciated by everyone who sees it, Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High is certainly fun and worth watching – if only to see how its lead manages to create his glorious legacy.
Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High is screening as part of the Japan Foundation’s Summer Explorers film season at the British Library, London, on 27th July.