When faced with an extremely complex story, with many characters and a multi-tiered socio-political set-up, some directors simplify and some rewrite. And some throw the whole story out and create something completely different from the original so that what’s left is something so awful that the original creator would probably not want to be associated it. The original Casino Royale springs immediately to mind…and so does the live-action Hana no Asuka-gumi. This movie is *so* bad, it’s good.
The manga of Hana no Asuka-gumi takes place in modern Tokyo, among the many and varied members of the Zenchuu Ura, the umbrella organization that runs all the female gangs of Tokyo (among other things) and the people who are involved with the principles of this organization. Kuraku Asuka was once a high-ranking member, but is no longer.
Not so this movie. ^_^
In the live-action version of this wonderful girl-gang story, we are transported to a dystopian future, in which all gangs look like stereotpyes of gangs, from big Happy Days 1950’s gang hair to double-breasted yakuza gang suits, to Mad Max ripoff faux-punk gang leather armor. All of the Omoteban look like Michael Jackson music video runaways, and they tend to yell alot and fight not nearly so much. Asuka’s (in the red jacket on the cover above – click the picture to get a bigger version) and Miko’s relationship is pretty much exactly the same as it is in the manga, and so is both of their relationships to Yohko (chick on the left side of the cover with big hair, which is a bloody shame). Other than that, nearly everything is different.
The worst change is what they did to Hibari-sama. Instead of being a proto-GothLoli freak with a doll and uniform fetish, she’s made into a middle-aged woman who cannot speak and needs misting periodically. This causes the movie to crawl to a stop every time she comes on screen – it sucks any energy the movie has away, just like the horrible mono-tonal Sister Jill did for the Cutey Honey Live-action movie.
But none of these is really enough to kill this movie completely – nor is the fact that the soundtrack consists entirely of the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction repeated over and over endlessly until you want to rip your ears off.
Despite all this, there are *still* scenes worth watching.
Chief among these is the scene where Asuka manages to grab Yohko, ties her to a bed and yell at her for a while, with a little light kicking to the ribs. Asuka has what is a genuinely unresolved-sexual-tension filled scene with the woman she loves. This relationship isn’t going to go anywhere…and neither does this movie. It ends in an anticlimactic free-for-all that resolves exactly nothing.
Cinematography – 2
Characters – 6
Story – 4
Yuri – 1
Service – 0
Overall – 2
Like the live action movie based on Blue, one should only bother watching this if one is a total hardcore Hana no Asuka-gumi fan. I am a hardcore fan, and have *two* copies of it. ^_^