Tokyo Ballistic War Vol.2

Tokyo Ballistic War – Cyborg High School Girl VS. Cyborg Beautiful Athletes Vol.2

aka Tokyo Ballistic War Vol.2

Written by Takashi Misumi
Directed by Eiji Kamikura

Tokyo Ballistic War Vol.2 is here to answer all the questions we had at the end of Tokyo Ballistic War Vol.1. Like “Huh?” and “What?” and “Stop talking to me about Tokyo Ballistic War Vol.1! I’m calling the cops, creepo!” Okay, maybe the last one is just what people around me say as they frantically back away and spray mace, but the story continues. Zen Pictures gets creative, breaking the narrative from the original, as it was about taking down overpowered cyborg athletes, it’s now about saving your friend from fates worse than death. And taking down overpowered cyborg athletes on the side.

All your favorite cyborg devices are back, along with a few new surprises. They clearly wanted the final battle between Ai and Megumi to pack an emotional punch alongside the CGI cyborgial punch. Though Zen Pictures does include all the Zen Pictures tropes, so you fan service and torture fans have your cake as well. But please eat it at a different spot, this is the cool kids table.

As interesting as these films are just for their existence in the middle of a cottage industry of specialized cheap films, they don’t possess enough individual specialness to shine outside of their little corner. But they do make good role models in their little world. If the Tokyo Ballistic War films do anything, I hope they inspire the other Zen Pictures films to aspire higher and better, perhaps paving the way for a true crossover film, or at least helping to build future great filmmakers.

Ai Asaoka (Ayaka Noda) – Schoolgirl with a name similar to Megumi Asoaka, they become fast friends and Ai was then mistakenly turned into a fighting cyborg. She had defeated two Athlete-roids, but has now been captured by the villainous Koumoto.
Megumi Asaoka (Arisa Taki) – Schoolgirl member of the Japanese Sports Association who is friends with Ai. She must now rescue her friend before it is too late.
Chairman Gondo (???) – Chairman of the Japanese Sports Association, he takes the JSA seriously and cannot allow cyborg enhancements to ruin the purity of the games. He lost an eye, but like Nick Fury, it is never explained why…
Koumoto (???) – Evil executive at Dainippon and main proponent of the Athlete-roid technology. Is arrogant enough in his creations to not worry about the JSA’s meddling. Is threatening to rebuild Ai in evil form.
Kozue Hara – DNJ-01 – (Yuka Inoue) – Dead.
Ami Adachi – DNJ-02 – (Moe Aizawa) – Dead
Kyoko Yamaguchi – DNJ-03 – (Serika Noda) – Member of the wrestling team and dominates her opponents on the mat. Has a special vest that allows domination, and can crush with her giant hand stompers.
Hitomi Oka – DNJ-04 – (Momo Kasuga) – Member of the tennis team who lobs bombs at her opponents. And I don’t mean tennis bombs! Or do I…? Momo Kasuga is an adult film star.

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Tokyo Ballistic War Vol.1

Tokyo Ballistic War – Cyborg High School Girl VS. Cyborg Beautiful Athletes Vol.1

aka Tokyo Ballistic War Vol.1

Written by Takashi Misumi
Directed by Eiji Kamikura

When last we reviewed a Zen Pictures‘ flick (the battle-tastic Sukeban Fighter Misaki), we discovered a whole world of cheap films cranked out filled with costumed heroines who then fight each other and get tortured in long sequences. Zen Pictures hasn’t changed, but they do follow the mantra of trying something new now and again. The latest craze in Japanese cinema that makes waves in the US is the super gory films from Sushi Typhoon and their allies, so that is a fertile ground for Zen Pictures to sweep into. And they do so with the Tokyo Ballistic War films, and do so with the same tiny budgets their normal films have. I have no problems with small budgets, they can lead to great creativity and use of resources. There is a reason that art via adversity is often better, why people complain about directors selling out, why the Star Wars prequels and their milquetoast characters and uninspired digital effects are considered lazy filmmaking, especially when compared to the fly by your pants budget and real models and sets and alien costumes Original Trilogy.

Zen Pictures have upped their presence in the global cinema scene, increasing the amount of films available with English subtitles and an enlarged English section on their website. But the subtitles are a bit hacky, with the names of people or organizations changing between films or even between sentences. And these films will never be more than a niche brand, even if there are a few breakouts like Tokyo Ballistic War.

Tokyo Ballistic War follows the Sushi Typhoon framework faithfully, even aping the opening action sequence that’s taken from the middle of the film teasers of their inspiration. But they can’t escape being Zen Pictures flicks, so both parts of Tokyo Ballistic War feature the required fan service, costumes, kidnapping, torture, torture with phallic stand-ins, splitting of the film into multiple parts for more sales, masked goons, and warehouses used as sets. The effects are crude, with computer graphics that will embarrass those not used to low quality. But there is some creative blood effects, and the director is smart enough to realize he needs to spray people with geysers of blood. There is even a couple of scenes that are creative, particularly a battle of flying fists. This is an interesting hybrid picture. It will not be everyone’s cup of tea, in fact, it’s probably so demographically targeted you are born knowing if it appeals to you.

In an alternate world where the superpower United Republic of Great Japan controls the planet, Japanese high school girl athletes are suddenly breaking records with exceptional domination. The secretive and evil corporation Dainippon is involved, bad things are happening, and no goods have been upped to. Doping? Hardly, Lance Armstrong! It’s cyborg enhancement! Dainippon has created Athlete-roids, which their director Koumoto plans to sell to the army. But do not despair, the JSA – Japanese Sports Association – is on the case! The JSA cannot let this threat to the integrity of sports stand, and must now create their own cyborg schoolgirls to fight back. Thus, begun the Tokyo Ballistic Wars have!

Ai Asaoka (Ayaka Noda) – Schoolgirl with a name similar to Megumi Asoaka, they become fast friends and Ai is then mistakenly turned into a fighting cyborg. She must get used to her new identity and learn to destroy the athletes she once admired.
Megumi Asaoka (Arisa Taki) – Schoolgirl member of the Japanese Sports Association who has a sense of honor and does not like what the Athlete-roids are doing to sports. Has volunteered to become the JSA’s fighting cyborg, but fate has other plans…
Chairman Gondo (???) – Chairman of the Japanese Sports Association, he takes the JSA seriously and cannot allow cyborg enhancements to ruin the purity of the games. He lost an eye, but like Nick Fury, it is never explained why… My guess is a chess match just went too far!
Koumoto (???) – Evil executive at Dainippon and main proponent of the Athlete-roid technology. Is arrogant enough in his creations to not worry about the JSA’s meddling.
Kozue Hara – DNJ-01 – (Yuka Inoue) – National volleyball member of the Republic of the United Japan, and famous throughout the Japanese schoolgirl community because she’s so awesome. But she’s also evil. EVIL!!! Because she’s a robot.
Ami Adachi – DNJ-02 – (Moe Aizawa) – Member of the National Swimming Team and certified lunatic. She will mer-make you dead! Moe Aizawa is an adult film star.
Kyoko Yamaguchi – DNJ-03 – (Serika Noda) – Member of the wrestling team and dominates her opponents on the mat.
Hitomi Oka – DNJ-04 – (Momo Kasuga) – Member of the tennis team who lobs bombs at her opponents. And I don’t mean tennis bombs! Momo Kasuga is an adult film star.

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Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (Review)

Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl

aka Kyuketsu Shojo tai Shojo Furanken

Directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura and Naoyuki Tomomatsu

Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (hereafter VGxFG due to our crippling laziness in both typing and copy/pasting the movie title) is from the same Japanese goremasters that brought us The Machine Girl, Tokyo Gore Police, and Hypertrophy Genitals Girl. That’s the movie where the girl has the giant genitals. It won six Oscars. Yoshihiro Nishimura is a special effects expert who has directed several of the gore flicks, while Naoyuki Tomomatsu is a director and writer who also produces a lot of gore flicks such as Stacy and Zombie Self-Defense Force . VGxFG is based on a manga I haven’t read because I only read scifi novels published around the time my mom was born I get from used book stores. I also read books about McBroom’s Farm, but there were never and Vampire Girls fighting Frankenstein Girls. Maybe some of his kids were vampires or Frankensteins, he had like a million of them and also ran a zoo at one point besides the farm where I bet the Silver-Tailed Teakettler fought the Sidehill Gouger.

If you like gore and splatter effects and CGI blood, then this movie has that stuff and you probably already at least know about it. But maybe you haven’t bothered to rent it from NetFlix yet and are deciding on if you should see it or requesting Goonies one more time. And that is where TarsTarkas.NET can help. First of all, go get Goonies from a used DVD store, you can probably get it for like $5 thanks the the economic apocalypse. Second, give us $5 as well. This doesn’t help you, but it helps us. Everyone wins! (Everyone at TarsTarkas.NET!)

VGxFG is much like the Twilight saga, in that there are two specially powered teenagers fighting over the heart of a normal teenagers. Sure, the sexes are reversed, and the werewolf is a Frankenstein monster now, but it is similar. And no one sits in a window for four months while some generic alt rock blares in the background about possibilities. Come to think of it, VGxFG is nothing like Twilight. Forget I said anything!

Let’s get the Roll Call out of the way before I devote another paragraph to how VGxFG is exactly like Lethal Weapon 3

Monami Arukado/Vampire Girl (Yukie Kawamura) – A lonely vampire girl searching for love by tricking boys into eating her blood. Just like all other women… Yukie Kawamura is a gravure idol so check out her gallery we put together.
Keiko Furano/Frankenstein Girl (Eri Otoguro) – dresses in the gothic-lolita style tough girl with a squad of three gang members who bully Jyugon into being her boyfriend…until Monami comes along. Is eventually killed and rebuilt by her father as Frankenstein Girl ready for revenge.
Jyugon Mizushima (Takumi Saito) – The innocent cute boy trapped in a world where two super-powered girls battle over his heart without consulting him in the slightest. Isn’t love grand?
Kenji Furano (Kanji Tsuda) – Vice-Principal/science teacher and Keiko’s father. Also secretly a mad scientist who experiments on the students.
Midori (Sayaka Kametani) – The over-sexed school nurse Mizushima goes to see because he’s still freaking out. It turns out she is also the mad assistant to Kenji Furano for his crazed experiments in chopping up students.

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Sukeban Fighter Misaki (Review)

Sukeban Fighter Misaki

Directed by Masayoshi Shiki
Sukeban Fighter Misaki

So this entry will require a bit of background, because Japan is weird. As you are probably aware of as you are an avid reader of TarsTarkas.NET and similar site that regularly go over the massive volume of cinema to be released from Japan. The vast majority of these films are low-budget direct to video affairs produced for a very limited audience. Thus, the videos usually cost close to $50 when first dropped, though they’ll soon end up as bargain basement packages as the parade of young actresses featured in the films rotates onwards. Many of the films are targeted at those who love low-budget action/crime/blood/gore films, and some of the select audiences are those who subscribe to specific fetishes. These range from harmless affairs like costumed chicks or fighting chicks, to more screwed up stuff that requires liberal use of the censor mosaic. As we like to pretend that we have a PG-13 rating here on TarsTarkas.NET, Sukeban Fighter Misaki falls strictly into the Fighting Schoolgirl genre. These affairs are basically involving tough schoolgirl fighters, secret agency people, evil masterminds, at least one evil schoolgirl, and a bunch of dudes in masks who will harass and capture the schoolgirl fighters.
Sukeban Fighter Misaki

Sukeban Fighter Misaki looks like it is one of a set of four films that were all made at the same time. Without having seen the other three, I am not sure what order they are intended to be watched in. The other three films are Sukeban Fighter Ayaka, Sukeban Fighter 2nd Intrigue, and Sukeban Fighter 2nd Struggle. I think it is produced by Zen Pictures, which is a production company that specializes in costume fighting women films. Their company website has literally hundreds of Power Rangers-ish films. They also have a sister company that does lots of horror stuff called Babel (the films are oddly called “New challenge movies”) You can also get a job doing voiceover work in the films for English dubs.

Sukeban Fighter Misaki

Misaki (Megumi Yamanaka) – Megumi Yamanaka was a gravure model that seemed to be in a lot of stuff circa 2006. Looks like she’s also in 2004’s New Zero Woman.
Ayaka (Kazuma Kawabata) – The student council president who works with some teachers to try to control the gang problem. The solution is to get Misaki to beat up all the gang. There is no info about Kazuma Kawabata anywhere and she seems to dropped off the face of the internet after these films.
Evil Girl (Eriko Matsumura) – Evil Girl is evil, hence her name. Also I didn’t catch her name, hence her name. She works for the evil boss and is evil. That’s all you need to know. Eriko Matsumura also dropped off the face of the internet after these films. I imagine she and Kazuma Kawabata are living in a shack somewhere in the desert, lifelong lovers, raising camels. Because…why not?

Sukeban Fighter Misaki
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High-Kick Girl! (Review)

High-Kick Girl!

aka Hai kikku garu!

Directed by Fuyuhiko Nishi
Written by Yoshikatsu Kimura and Fuyuhiko Nishi

High-Kick Girl was one of four films that came out or were announced close together that featured new female fighting talent as the leads, the others being Coweb from Hong Kong, Fighter from Denmark (review forthcoming), and Chocolate from Thailand.

For what is undoubtedly a low-budget flick, it does mush of what it sets out to do. The main goal is to showcase the karate skills of the stars, with plenty of real karate action and moves. Forget your wire work and CGI. The amount of prep work required must have been enormous for such a low-budget affair. Rumors abound that stunt people had to go take MRIs for having so many kicks to the heads and were really upset that the fighting was all “real” and they didn’t do takes where punches and kicks were pulled.

One constant stylization that High-Kick Girl uses is the different angle slow-mo instant replay. Many of the more brutal hits are instantly replayed from an alternate angle slow enough for you to enjoy them. This happens often enough that it probably added 20 minutes to the length of the film

Many of the characters are given introductions with their names when they first appear on screen. One problem is the fact the intros are in Japanese with no subtitles. I can read some of the characters, so there will be a few actual names below, but some of them I didn’t catch.

Kei Tsuchiya (Rina Takeda) – A real-life blackbelt in karate who will kick you in the head just because she can. This girl kicks high, thus the title, Kick High Girl. Wait, that’s not the title!
Yoshiaki Matsumura (Tatsuya Naka) – Tatsuya Naka is a real life Karate champion, as in a former All Japan Karate champion who is now the Japan Karate Association lead instructor.
Kei’s buddy (???) – Kei’s buddy who documents her attempts to beat up everyone in the universe.
Ryuzoku (Sudo Masahiro) – Matsumura’s former associate with a grudge. Ryuzoku is part of a larger mob of goons who all hate Matsumura, and he gets to him by going through Kei and using her to track down his foe.
Genga (Amano Koji) – Leader of the gang (the Destroyers) with a grudge against Matsumura. What this grudge is, I don’t know thanks to the no subtitles, but my guess is Matsumura

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Yo-Yo Girl Cop (Review)

Yo-Yo Girl Cop

aka Sukeban Deka: Kôdo nêmu = Asamiya Saki

Aya Matsuura as Saki Asamiya
Rika Ishikawa as Reika Akiyama
Shunsuke Kubozuka as Jirou Kimura
Yui Okada as Taie Konno
Erika Miyoshi as Kotomi Kanda
Yuki Saito as Saki’s Mother
Riki Takeuchi as Kazutoshi Kira
Directed by Kenta Fukasaku
Yo-Yo Girl Cop
The power of my yo-yos cannot be denied. From their first appearance around 500 BC, the designs have improved and become more deadly. Now, they are the most powerful weapon in the world today, and may treaties limit their use on the battlefield. Wait, all that is a pack of lies, unless you live in the universe that Yo-Yo Girl Cop takes place in! Based on a manga named Sukeban Deka by Shinji Wada that became an 1980’s Japanese TV series, it’s now been updated for the 2006 audience. In fact, the movie is a continuation of the old TV series, as the previous Yo-Yo Girl Cop is the mother of the current titular character. There also has been three previous live action movies, some of which are on Amazon so hopefully I’ll see them at the rental places. Being that this is Japanese fantasy, this film is packed with Pop Idol girls, many of which beat the crap out of each other. This has the only yo-yo chick fight I have seen in a movie to date, so it stands out in that respect. The movie is a turn your brain off type movie, but also deals with the issue of bullying, which has become a controversial topic in Japan recently, as it has lead to a few suicides. Yo-yos are not a prevalent.
Yo-Yo Girl Cop
Pop Idol Aya Matsuura is Saki Asamiya, the Yo-Yo Girl Cop. Saki Asamiya is the code name for the special agent yo-yo girls, who are not police but a different unofficial agency. Aya Matsuura (nickname Ayaya) has many albums and even hosts a weekly radio show. Following Japanese famous girl tradition she has a bunch of photo books as well. Her personality style of bubbly and happy is a stark contrast to Saki Asamiya, who is a tough street girl. She pulls it off well, I am curious to see in her a happier role now. The evil yo-yo girl Reika Akiyama is played by Rika Ishikawa, another J-Pop star. She’s a former member of Morning Musume (along with 90% of the women in Japan) and currently in the female trio v-u-den when not hosting the TV show Hello! Morning, which is one of the shows of the Hello! Project, the megaconsortium behind Morning Mesume and 9000 other girl acts in Japan. She’s joined by fellow v-u-den member Yui Okada, who plays the bullied girl Taie Kono. Rika Ishikawa must have had lots of fun spending the entire film teasing her coworker Yui Okada, where else can you strap bombs to someone you work with and not get arrested? The last v-u-den member is Erika Miyoshi, who spends most of the film not talking as Kotomi Kanda. I hope it is not because she’s a terrible actress, but you can’t find out from just this film. This is all brought to us by Kenta Fukasaku, son of famous director Kinji Fukasaku, he finished up the abomination that was Battle Royale 2. This film is far less an embarrassment to cinema. The use of yo-yos allows such wonderful terms as yoing, yo-yoing, yoed, yo-yo attack, you got yoed, and yo-yo Joe!
Yo-Yo Girl Cop
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