Regardless of where you live, there’s probably a rivalry going on between your neighbourhood and the next one, between your city and another city, between your province and the one next to it, and so forth. Well, imagine if you will a story about prefectures in Japan being played to the maximum level of ludicrous you can ever imagine and then some. Ridiculous? Yes. Overtly-detailed cultural references with on-the-nose humour? Correct.
Fly Me to the Saitama is a film directed by Hideki Takeuchi and written by Yuichi Tokunaga, based upon the original manga by Mineo Maya. In this version of Japan, Tokyo rules supreme and has imposed visa entries to the people coming from prefectures considered lower-class. A prestigious high school in Tokyo keeps the students from Saitama constantly berated and humiliated until the arrival of new transfer student, Rei Asami (Gackt). The attractive and flamboyant Rei immediately garners a following of fans. Rei also makes a connection with Momomi (Fumi Nikaido), the class president and the governor’s only child.
To say that this film is dumb, would be doing it a disservice. The film might show us an incredible over-the-top mostly-fiction class warfare between prefectures, but to do that it must set up each of them based on what they are known for. It requires research, it requires timing, it requires a lot of intelligence to reach this level of pythonesque self-referential hilarity. Now, I am not as versed in Japan’s district geography or their internal history to catch every single reference. Actually, I’m lucky if I catch a single one. I’m still laughing at the smart silliness of it all.
Recommended for over-the-top comedy lovers, specially if you’re familiar with Japan’s regions and culture. Casual audiences might feel the story drag a bit around the middle, but it does pick up the pace. That being said, it’s best with an audience that is familiar with all the references. Family audiences will not be offended, but I hardly think they will be entertained. Please leave any attempts at making sense or using logic at the door before entering the theatre.
That will do for now.