[From July Issue 2012]
700 Days of Battle: Us vs. the Police (Director: TSUKAMOTO Renpei)
Based on an extremely popular “blog novel,” this story is partly true and partly fictional. It was subsequently adapted into a comic book, and translations have been published overseas. The movie was released in Japan in April 2008 and was later shown in Taiwan and Korea. The original story was set in Yamagata Prefecture in 1975, but in the movie version, this became Tochigi Prefecture, 1979.
In a certain rural town, seven high school friends generally make a nuisance of themselves in their school and town. Their ring leader is nicknamed “Mamachari,” because he rides around on a type of bicycle commonly used by housewives that has a basket in front. One day, one of the gang, Saijo is arrested by a policeman for breaking the speed limit on his moped.
Looking to get even with the police and believing that they won’t get arrested on their bicycles, the seven friends ride their bikes at great speeds in front of the device used for recording speed violations. However, a policeman who is at first convinced that the speed infractions were caused by an automobile, finds out that this is a prank carried out by the bicycle-riding kids and catches them in the act. He summons one of their high school teachers and orders him to strictly discipline the boys.
But even after this incident, the high school kids wage war by playing one prank after another on the police officer. In response, playing fast and loose with the letter of the law, the officer gets his revenge. On one occasion, saying that he’d like to make peace with the boys, he invites them out for a drive to the neighboring town. He takes them to a scenic spot deep in the mountains and lets them out of the car to watch the sunset. Then he seizes the opportunity to leave the boys stranded. This is just one example of his behavior.
During the summer holidays, Saijo is involved in a traffic accident on his moped and is hospitalized. When his friends visit him in hospital, he asks them to steal the fireworks that were going to be used at a display in a neighboring town and begs them to set them off in a dry riverbed near the hospital. He insists that this is part of their campaign against the police officer. However, regardless of whether the plan is successful or not, if they get caught by the police officer, they’ll be expelled from school.
While everyone is half-hearted about carrying out this plan, Mamachari realizes why Saijo thought up the scheme. Mamachari understands the tender side to Saijo’s personality and explains the reason to his pals. Resigned to being expelled, the friends decide to steal the fireworks. However, when they set off towards the neighboring town, the officer, who has been informed of their plans, stands in the way.
This movie is set in 1979. In that year young people all over Japan were caught up in the “Space Invaders” craze, but it was also the year in which standardized entrance exams for national universities were introduced. This movie draws a partly humorous, partly heart-rending portrait of the war between a group of rural high school students overwhelmed by the upcoming challenge of these fiercely competitive high school entrance exams, and a police officer who seriously tackles them head on and tries to teach them how to live correctly.