The Virgin Psychics 映画みんな!エスパーだよ Dir: Sion Sono (2015)

The Virgin Psychics    The Virgin Psychics Film Poster

映画みんな!エスパーだよ「Eiga Minna! Esupa- Dayo!」

Release Date: September 04th, 2015

Duration: 114 mins.

Director: Sion Sono,

Writer: Sion Sono, Shinichi Tanaka (Screenplay), Kiminori Wakasugi (Original Manga),

Starring:  Shota Sometani, Elaiza Ikea, Erina Mano, Makita Sports, Anna Konno, Motoki Fukami, Ai Shinozaki, Tokio Emoto, Megumi Kagurazaka,

Website IMDB

This is directed by Sion Sono one of the world’s great contemporary directors who built a career on existential drama/horror like Suicide CircleStrange Circus, and Noriko’s Dinner Table. 2015 saw the release of six of his films, three of which were froma  franchise including this one. This is based on a TV dorama that is based on a manga written by Kiminori Wakasugi, creator of the hilarious Detroit Metal City. After a first viewing I was tempted to write it off as an insincere cash-in on a smutty comic book and Tenga sex toys but I will be generous and say that the film is an unashamed celebration of raging hormones and naive love (as well as Tenga sex toys) wrapped up in a knowingly stupid story.

We’re not watching Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru, we’re watching the misadventures of Yoshiro “Yocchan” Kamogawa (Shota Sometani), ordinary (virgin) high school boy in Toyohashi. It is a city with more good-looking women than anywhere else in the world, apparently, but he can’t get laid because he’s a bit of a nerd. He finds his life literally changes overnight when he wakes up with the ability to read other people’s minds. Sounds awesome! But he cannot use it effectively since he is caught up in an obsession with the idea that a classmate named Sae (Erina Mano) is his destined girl. He has a dream that they formed a mental connection while their mothers sat next to each other in the hospital when they were both still in the womb. Destiny does seem to have a hand in their meeting because she is the daughter of a travelling scientist (Ken Yasuda) who is in town to discover psychics!

Indeed, Yoshiro’s not alone in gaining weird powers as a perverted café owner named Teru-oichan (Makita Sports) has developed telekinetic powers and can move any object or person that is sexual. Sounds really awesome! But he uses his power for his beloved Tenga and porno mags. Yosuke Enomoto (Fukami), a school basketball player, gains the power to teleport. Sounds super-awesome! But it only works while he is naked. Then there is Yoshiro’s kick-ass cutie of a classmate Miyuki (Elaiza Ikeda) who also has the ability to read minds. It is a shame that they cannot read each other’s minds because if they could, Yoshiro would discover that Miyuki is crushing on him super hard. Not that telepathy or anything is needed since they quarrel like a married couple!

When an evil psychic starts making the women around town horny and perverted, the espers find themselves press-ganged into joining a team to battle for love and slightly less perversion (only slightly less) to save the day. Get ready to see how they use their powers against rival espers!

Beautiful busty babes in bikinis with bouncy bountiful breasts and behinds do battle on the big screen in Sion Sono’s bawdy adaptation of Kiminori Wakasugi’s manga Minna Espa Da Yo!. Forgive the lewdness of the last sentence. Despite the acres of flesh, this is a cheeky romp more in tune with Britain’s Carry On films of the 70’s than the vulgarity of the American Pie series and it is actually shot through with a small degree innocence in its belief in love. It resembles the imagination of a naive teenage boy raised on manga.

The characters display an anthology of psychic-sexual kinks like teleportation exhibitionism and erotic object psychokinesis which are mined for laughs as they hope to further their lusty adventures. Of course, when the big showdown to display everything comes, they get performance anxiety for this film is more the softest of softcore and pretty un-erotic as, despite the masses of scantily clad people of Toyohashi (and the AV actresses bussed in) nobody gets it on and everyone is more concerned with being cheeky.

When thinking about this film and its potential for porn the adjectives for the final result that come to mind are antonyms of what are expected – sexy becomes cute, raunchy becomes chaste, explicit becomes implied. The humour is goofy enough to be amusing as everyone mugs for the camera but the bits that made me laugh most were Ken Yasuda’s as he deadpans his way through the sexy shenanigans as the psychic squad’s leader, keeping a straight face amidst so much bare flesh and a little cross-dressing.

What stuck out the most amidst the competing comedy and ribaldry was a sense of yearning for pure love and this acts as a dramatic backbone for the story. I’m going to go against my better judgement here and say that there is something substantive to this movie as a send-up of adolescent conceptions of love and lust although, despite concessions to female sexuality and perversions, this is just a retread of familiar gender relations and so it breaks no new ground.

Made in the same year as Shinjuku Swan (2015), Love & Peace (2015), Tag (2015) and The Whispering Star (2015), this is the worst of the bunch. Technically solid, story-wise, silly. The most interesting thing to consider about this film is that it led into the creation of Antiporno and Tag, two titles that critique gender roles, something writ large when you have experienced and talented actresses like Mariko Tsutsui (Harmonium) her role as a sexy housewife. Antiporno is, in hindsight, an incoherent roar of rage against the exploitation of women and inability to address sex in healthy terms in society while Tag is a fierce diatribe against the infantalisation of men by the media and the tacit acceptance of oppressive sexual roles. I suspect Sono was picking up a paycheck with Virgin Psychics so he could make more challenging films and he acknowledged the troubling aspects of gender roles seen in this film with Antiporno and Tag.

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