As soon as the first scene came on, with the jerky camera zoom-in, it felt nostalgic right away. And minutes into the film when the opening credits rolled in with Pikanchi Double, it was definitely walking down memory lane.
I’m talking about PIKANCHI… LIFE IS HARD TABUN HAPPY, the third installment in Arashi’s Pikanchi franchise (the first in 2002 and the second in 2004; this latest one, screened last year, is called 2.5, more or less half a sequel, that’s why there is no new Pikanchi song).
The story picks up eight years since they last met, on that bridge by Yashio Hills. So what has happened to Yashio’s resident dorks: Haru, Chu, Shun, Takuma and Bon?
Arashi did Pikanchi 2.5 so they could “mess around” in their 30s. They were in their teens in 2002 and in their 20s in 2004. This film is part of their youth and growing up, and it’s melancholic to watch them return to the five characters that are so different from their idol image, and yet are part and parcel of who they are.
Haru is now married (to the mother of his first love) with a daughter (who always looks like she’s about to cry in her selfies); Chu has a son, Teppeki, and is having marital problems with Yayoi; Shun has put up a noodle boathouse; Takuma has
become a greek god homeless superhero who walks around with a blanket wandered the world with his music and has returned with a Kenyan wife and eight children (don’t worry, they’re not his but Angelina Jolie’s) and Bon has gotten married (his taste in women remains suspect) and, as he himself proclaims, is a “SAKSESSS STORY!”
Pikanchi’s storytelling is a combination of sitcom and anime plus Arashi’s brand of crack. It’s obvious that they were having fun while filming this (shoot started 39 days before the movie was screened in Tokyo), and I have to say that Riida, Jun and Sho really went to town with their campy acting. It actually felt like watching a school play or an amateur film, which has always been the charm of Pikanchi. It has this look and feel of a final filmmaking project, and for sure, it’s low budget (two costume changes at most except for the “flashback scenes” and only a handful of filming locations) but the ROI was massive (someone actually made a calculation on how much the film earned during its limited one-month sold-out run; it was brought to other Japanese cities too for a limited screening).
Some of the highlights:
- Bon’s random Engrish and his bright pink suit
blanket cape hair headbandlook
- Haru still Haru, “the most unfortunate man in Yashio”
- Shun as sailor moon
- Chu and his yankee costume
But my favorite scene would have to be Takuma singing Michi in New York. A close second would be Haru, Chu and Shun trying to appreciate Bon’s wife. And there’s that scene of Yayoi clutching her head in dismay when Teppeki appeared in a yankee coat at his piano recital.
I love how Arashi can still do this not only when they’re in their 30s but even when they’re at the top of their game. But the mere fact that they can still do a crack project like Pikanchi only goes to show that they’ve never taken their fame seriously. And it’s nice to see them going back to their roots. That’s why Michi is so apt:
Trudging our way on this path
Wondering where this road will go
Let’s think about things like that along the way
If it’s a dead end,
We’ll have to heave ourselves over the wall
There are no roads you can’t turn back from
Let’s keep going today too
As Bon said:
“Don’t get swallowed by the raging waves of life.”
In their teens, they described life as “hard DAKEDO [but] happy”.
In their 20s, they described life as “hard DAKARA [therefore] happy”.
In their 30s? “Life is hard TOTEMO [totally] unhappy.”
Takuma and Shun disagreed.
So V6’s Inocchi (who played Sho’s older brother here and who also wrote the script) asked them again.
Their answer? “Life is hard TABUN [maybe] happy.”
How about you?
Related post: [news] PIKANCHI 2.5
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