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May 22, 2012

Mutant Girls Squad

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Sento shojo: Chi no tekkamen densetsu
Noboru Iguchi, Yoshihiro Nishimura, and Tak Sakaguchi - 2010
Well Go USA Region 1 DVD

There is one image in Mutant Girls Squad that might be considered audacious as well as satirical. The girls have killed off a team of enemy soldiers. Geysers of blood are squirting everywhere. The girls, triumphant in their white PVC outfits stand in front of a large white sheet. Blood splattered on the white sheet appears like a crude circle. The image appears to be a kind of variation on the Japanese flag. And in its own goofy way, Mutant Girls Squad poses the question about what it really means to be Japanese.

Before that question becomes tangential to the rest of the mayhem, we are introduced to Rin, a high school girl, on her sixteenth birthday. The parents appear to be a humorous version of stereotypical Japanese parents, with the mother having lunch ready for Rin to take to school, and father heartily encouraging Rin to study hard. The smiles and good cheer appear forced, artificial. Rin has been bothered by physical discomfort in her right hand, but acts as if all is normal for her. Things change when she is bullied by her fellow students, and discovers just how different she is.

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After a promising start, Mutant Girls Squad gets less interesting. Rin joins a group of other mutant girls, but finds herself on the outs when she decides she doesn't want all out war with the humans who are seeking to eliminate the mutants. Rin seeks peace both for her half mutant, half human self, as well as within society. What the film is more interested in is in showing off the battles between the mutant girls and the humans, as well as between some of the mutant characters. Heads and arms get lopped off, blood sprays every where, and the mutants are either part animal or part machine. Swords and tentacles reach in and out of different orifices. Eyes pop out. If you have seen even a single film by any one of the three directors, then you know what to expect.

Can Tak Sakaguchi, Noburu Iguchi and Yoshiro Nishimura make films that are both different and better than what they've done previously? Certainly, the earlier films I've seen are arguably better. And it could be that they have no choice but to do more of the same. Interestingly, while this is another Sushi Typhoon production, it was done in conjunction with a different studio, Toei. The film is divided into three parts, with the three filmmakers collaborating on the story, and each one taking the main responsibility for direction of each segment. Sakaguchi also appears as the leader of the mutant girls, and served as action director.

The three lead actresses, Yumi Sugimoto, Suzuka Morita and Yuko Takayama, are certainly cute, and have established themselves mostly as television actresses with recording careers on the side, as well as their own websites. The one familiar face, the actor who might well be one of those supporting players referred to as "that guy", is Kanji Tsuda. Just checking his filmography, I've seen Tsuda more times than I realized. In Mutant Girls Squad, Tsuda appears as Rin's father, with a few secrets of his own. While there are those who will be entertained for the hour and a half running time, my feeling is that there is only so much that can be done within the genre of movies about hybrid young females. One hopes for inventiveness that goes beyond a chainsaw that emerges from a young woman's rear end.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at May 22, 2012 08:52 AM