Friday, March 11, 2022

The Cherry Bushido, from Happy Science

It seems like the world will never stop ending for the folks at Happy Science. They are quite the controversial “alternative religious movement” in Japan. They also have a busy film production unit that specializes in apocalyptic stories. This time around, a country that sounds a whole lot like China intends to nuke Japan, unless the intrepid spirit warriors can defeat the demon secretly pulling the strings in Hiroshi Akabane’s The Cherry Bushido, which opens today in New York.

Shizuka Yamato is a patriotic teenager, who is tired of watching Japan apologize for its past and appease the militant Sodorrah regime. It is not China mind you, but its position and size on the map are eerily similar. When Yamato starts speaking out, she catches the eye of Satoshi Takayama, the leader of the double-secret Japan Salvation Council, which masquerades as a talent agency.

Takayama suspects Yamato might be the chosen one, because he has been testing her martial arts chops. Confirmation comes when Yamato confides she has dreamed of a devastating nuclear attack on Japan. With his training, she will venture into the spirit dimension, to face the Demon of Hades, who is controlling the mindless heathens of Sodorrah. So, there it is.

Like most Happy Science films, the story of
Bushido is credited to their head honcho, Ryuho Okawa. It is not as engaging as the driving conspiracy of the animated The Mystical Laws, perhaps their best film to date. Unfortunately, the narrative is about on par with the silly Laws of the Universe: The Age of Elohim, but at least that film also had some pretty cool animation. In contrast, the special effects of the live-action Cherry Bushido are often very cheesy.

Needless to say,
Bushido reflects the philosophy of Happy Science. Their political wing advocates stripping China of its Security Council seat, which is a worthy idea. Unfortunately, they also deny the crimes of the Rape-of-Nanjing occupation, which is troubling. Indeed, the contention that Japan has nothing to apologize for during WWII is repeated several times.

Regardless, the dramatic caliber of
Bushido is nearly on par with Neil Breen’s Fateful Findings (that’s not a place you want to be). Of course, the English dubbing does not do the cast any favors. Yoshiko Sengen probably displays some decent kendo chops as Yamato, if you can divorce her from her ridiculous dialogue. Veteran thesp Tokuma Nishioka battles to invest the role of her dojo master father with dignity, but he is sabotaged by all the crazy woo-woo business. Yet, Hiroaki Tanaka’s off-putting cold fish portrayal of Takayama really undermines whatever drama might have worked.

I still contend
Mystical Laws is weirdly entertaining, but I’m starting to doubt myself after watching Cherry Bushido. Regardless, the Happy Science filmmaking team should stick to animation, because those films just look so much more polished and professional. Not recommended, Cherry Bushido opens today (3/11) in New York, at the AMC Empire.