Teiichi wants to create his own empire. How’s that possible, you may ask? Well, by controlling the student council at his elite high school, of course. If he can run the school then Teiichi’s a shoe in for a prestigious government position, and from there he can even become Prime Minister. With his father’s broken dreams at his feet, Teiichi is determined to do what his father never could and nothing, not even his love for playing piano, will get in the way of his goal.
Teiichi’s a genius on all counts; he gets the best grades in the school, he’s musically gifted, and he even has a childhood sweetheart. But a politician is nothing without his trusted allies, and helping him along the way is his right-hand man Komei whose skills at making listening devices are second to none, giving them the edge when it comes to gathering information. Then there’s Dan Otaka, the charismatic scholarship student who doesn’t care for politics but will protect his friends, including Teiichi. He also must deal with Kikuma Togo, the son of his father’s political rival, who isn’t afraid to use sneaky tactics to ruin Teiichi for good, and soon the pair become engulfed in their school’s election process.
If Teiichi supports the candidate that wins the election, then he has a shot at standing in for the role the next year. There are two potential candidates: Okuto Morizono, a genius shogi player who wants to change the election process so that it’s fairer, and Roland Himuro, a blonde half-American who thinks that money is a sure-fire way buy him the election. Roland, who helped the current president win, is Teiichi’s first choice, but soon things descend into chaos and he’s forced to change hands and use all his skills to ensure his victory.
The film isn’t afraid to go all out on its ridiculous premise. It uses slapstick comedy well, and the characters’ over-the-top reactions only helps to strengthen the film’s humour. Teiichi often rolls his eyes to the back of his head, and Kikuma’s plans to thwart him are always absurd. But one of the best moments is when Teiichi decides to focus on Roland Himuro during the election, he fantasises about how he can suck up to him: crawling on his hands and knees towards his senior so that he can lick his shoes. This, in itself, is ridiculous, but then it gets better — upon being caught by the subject of his fantasy Teiichi woofs to show his loyalty to his “master” and this actually impresses Roland. It’s this exaggerated comedy that works so well, and when it’s paired with the characters’ great comic timing it’s no wonder that it’s so easy to love this deliberately insane story.
Where Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High finds its calling, though, is with its overtly gay subtext. There’s a lot of love to be had between these schoolboys; from Kikuma’s frequent manhandling of Teiichi, to the subtle touches between classmates and even the hilarious moment where Teiichi literally throws his girlfriend aside to run gleefully into Komie’s arms. It’s clear that both director and scriptwriter knew exactly what they were doing and who their target audience are. The boys love is so strong and so frequently presented on screen that this male-heavy comedy is a guaranteed paradise for fujoshi fans.
This is a manga adaptation that’s able to stand out in a time when the genre has started to dominate Japanese cinema. It’s silly in all sense of the word, but it’s still brilliant. With its witty one-liners and boys love undertones, Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High is great fun to watch and hopefully there’ll be more adventures for the genius tactician as he slowly builds his glorious empire.
Written by Roxy Simons.
All photos © Toho Co. Ltd.