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Yurika-chan (Saishu Kyoshi 1997)



Genre: Psycho-babble Action Thriller

review in one breath

For starters we have to talk about the director's name. The kanji making up the name Saishu Kyoshi was more than a little difficult to decipher. Even my (college prof) Japanese friend couldn't read it. After spending about an hour trying to crack the Kanji mystery which is Saishu Kyoshi, I was startled by the results.

The Kanji of the family name "Saishu" is actually an ancient Shinto term referring to, and I quote:

The Supreme Priest/Priestess. The highest religious officiant at Ise no Jingi ranking above the daigoji and devoting him/herself entirely to religious ceremonies. From the Heian to the Meiji periods, a male representative from the governmental Bureau of Divinities (Jingikan) held the post. From the Meiji Restoration (1868) to the end of World War II, the post was held by a male member of the imperial family, but a female member now occupies the position, in imitation of the ancient custom of having an unmarried imperial princess, called a mitsue-shiro, serve the shrine in the role of saigi

Well, can you guess what (the Kanji for) "Kyoshi" means? That's right! It means "Reverent Heir". Thus we have the reverent heir of the ancient Shinto Saishu directing Z-movie horror! Pretty amazing name, isn't it?

I bring this name trivia up for two principal reasons. The first is this: If I (moi) don't take the time here and tell you who Saishu Kyoshi is, you, in all likelihood, will never hear his name. You may have preferred blissful ignorance should you ever watch this movie. The second reason is this: We will all likely agree that it is a very good thing Saishu is an heir of something other than the lingering impressions made upon innocent minds by Yurika-chan.

I think you can see where this review is headed.

The second thing we need to talk about is the main character, japanese supermodel bikini babe Kanako Enomoto. She does a good job playing the main character "Yurika" and undoubtedly drew into the audience large numbers of hormonally driven males such as myself. In addition, Enomoto turns out to be just as sexy in a bikini as she is blood drenched after shooting someone point blank through the skull with a crossbow. Go figure.

Perhaps the film's own promotional graphics describe it best when it declares itself a PHYKIC MOVIE. Either they hired Daffy Duck (who has a wildly heavy lifp) to do the graphics or we are headed into truly alien territory. (Trivia time: Did you know "Phycology" is the Science of Seaweed? Aren't you glad you read my reviews!)

The title Yurika-chan could be conceptually translated into Cute Little Yurika. The suffix "chan" is akin to the US practice of affixing a "Y" following a child's name (turning me from Scott into Scotty. Arrgghh!) just to make it sound cute (and to remind the poor kid that, heck, he's only a little kid, so buzz off!!).

The character Yurika, depicted on the cover graphic, has the unusual role of being simultaneously the film's protagonist and the film's most terrifying character. You see, she has PHYKIC abilities through which she can PHYKICALLY channel murderers, druggies and what not. The sequence is generally this: She finds herself in some kind of unfortunate circumstances involving a bad guy, where she cries and cowers like a normal non-PHYKIC little girl. Then she faints. Then she opens her eyes with an evil smirk. Cute Little Yurika has now turned into a turbo-charged version of the bad guy. Although she takes on the bad guy's mannerisms and thought patterns, she is a turbo-charged version, stronger, more evil, more sadistic. She can out "bad guy" the bad guy, which usually means torturing and killing him right then and there, while mocking him and laughing hysterically. And after PHYKIC justice has been meted out, it would really be best if she just went back to normal Cute Little Yurika, RIGHT?

Needless to say, Nomura, a rough and tumble Tokyo cop had heard of Yurika's abilities and successfully exploited them two years ago in order to solve a serial murder case. So when a bizarre series of similar murders begin, Nomura heads back out into the boondocks and literally kidnaps little Yurika from her grandfather's home. Kidnap is such a harsh term though. Perhaps I should simply say that after they get thrown out on the lawn by the angry grandfather (not wanting to subject Yurika to grisly murders), they climb up through her bedroom window at night, and quietly escort her back out the window into a waiting car, but not before smelling her panties (?).

ANYWAY, the murders she is sent to decipher are indeed bizarre enough. Someone is killing entire nuclear families with a crossbow, and then arranging the dead bodies in "Leave it to Beaver" poses on the family couch. This goes on and on, while Nomura tries frantically to psychologically abuse (or is it now "phykologically"?) Yurika into fainting and thus artificially initiating the "Yurika sequence". He does this by placing her smack in the middle of an incredibly bloodied crime scene in the middle of the night, flashing a grisly slide show of the mutilated corpses of family members into her eyes, and then yelling at her "You did this, didn't you? YOU DID THIS, DIDN'T YOU???!!." No wonder grandpa threw this guy out of the house!

Although this film definitely centers on PHYKIC phenomena, it is basically a crime suspense, where we follow the cops through investigative processes until we arrive at a cornered bad guy with a weapon. Where most crime dramas would wrap things up here with a gun shootout, or in this case a gun and crossbow shootout, Yurika-chan steps up to the plate and delivers a refreshingly different PHYKIC version of the traditional ending.

I won't give the ending away, but let's just say Little Yurika is the baddest bad ass in Tokyo! She Rocks! She is the villian extraordinaire and she truly loves it! Simply imagine the Terminator wearing a little girl's school uniform, and you know what I am talking about! Are you picturing that! Are you?! Hee hee! Just kidding. (Sorry.)

What is the morale of this tale? Here's my obviously thoughtful analysis:

  • For you guys in the viewing audience, it is definitely: Make sure your girlfriend doesn't have any PHYKIC abilities. One little faint during an argument and you're history pal.

  • For grandpa it is: Invest in window locks.

  • For Tokyo cops it is: Next time you invite a little girl into a serial killing crime scene, make sure she isn't really Satan in a blouse and training bra.

  • For Yurika it is: Start hanging out with sexy girls and horror film directors and channel them! Society is undoubtedly in need of supercharged versions of these. But avoid Damien the Antichrist or politicians in general at all cost.

Although this film elevates PHYKIC phenomenon, and deploys Yurika-chan as a PHYKIC weapon of mass destruction, in the end, it was simply diligent detective work which leads to the unravelling of the case. But if that is the case, what precisely was the benefit of kidnapping nubile Yurika-chan other than having her serve as a cute meat grinder to dispose of the bad guys? Way to go Nomura!

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
Where else are you going to see a movie by the heir of an ancient Shinto order starring a bikini model babe? Hmm? I'll tell you. NOWHERE! Cute little Yurika likes her knives and crossbows! And don't forget the several dead families posed in heart warming scenes.(We're even treated to slide shows!) The onscreen sniff of super-babe Kayoko Enomoto's panties undoubtedly deserves at least one blue skull! I wanted to see Yurika channel Mick Jagger!

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