The Virgin Psychics

Original title: Eiga: minna! Esupâ da yo!
Japan, 2016
Director: Sion Sono
Starring: Shota Sometani, Erina Mano, Elaiza Ikeda, Anna Konno, Mizuki Hoshina, Megumi Kagurazaka, Airi Shimizu, Ken Yasuda, Motoki Fukami, Ai Shinozaki
Genre: Sci-fi, Comedy, Ecchi, Manga Adaptation
IMDB: 5.1

From Wikipedia ...

Fan service (ファンサービス fan sābisu), is material in a work of fiction which is intentionally added to please the audience. The term originated in anime and manga fandom but has been used in other mediums. It is about "servicing" the fan - giving the fans "exactly what they want." Fan service usually refers to "gratuitous titillation" ...

The Virgin Psychics is based on the original manga All Esper Dayo! by Kiminori Wakasugi (also known for Detroit Metal City). But is more closely related to the 2013 TV Tokyo adaptation directed by Sion Sono and featuring much of the same cast. (Check it out here, it's a lot of fun)

Sion Sono has often pushed the envelope beyond the bounds of good taste, whether it's the incest of Strange Circus, the upskirt voyeurism of Love Exposure, the teen suicide of Suicide Club, or the Eroguro of films such as Cold Fish and Guilty of Romance .

Here Sono has taken the concept of "fan-service", and pushed it way over the top.

Mitsuko (gravure idol Anna Konno) leans over the desk for no discernible reason
Set in a high school in the small but vibrant city of Toyohashi, Yoshiro (Shota Sometani) has one thing on his mind - saving the world so that he is worthy of his one true love, who he hopes is his classmate Sae (Erina Mano).

At the same time, there has been a mysterious outbreak of superpowers, currently being investigated by two ESP researchers from Tokyo, Professor Asami (Ken Yasuda) and his assistant Ms. Akiyama (Megumi Kagurazaka).

Ms. Akiyama is a precog, she can see the future of anyone who stares at her breasts. I guess that's why the professor can't take his eyes off them ...

The Professor activates Ms. Akiyama's superpowers, for "research" purposes
Yoshiro has the ability to hear people's thoughts, but he's not the only one. Classmate Miyuki (fashion model, Elaiza Ikeda) also has this ability, which means she constantly hears men's dirty thoughts about her. Which is quite disturbing, considering the whole town seemingly has only one thing on its mind.

This is another mystery for the researchers to uncover - why has the city suddenly become sex crazy? Girls are robbing banks dressed only in bikinis. Random stripteases occur on the top of buildings. A lesbian ferry driver is hypnotising local girls. And why does that teleporting dude want to show everyone his dick?

Makita Sports mimes his appreciation for Ice Coffee
The cast is packed with sexy actresses and models - and generally in very short skirts or bikinis. In Love Exposure, Sono had at least *some* justification for pointing the camera up those skirts - it was part of the story - but here it's done purely in the service of the fans - blatantly, repeatedly, and pretty much non-stop from start to finish.

The Virgin Psychics is a mish-mash of crazy ideas - a preposterous sci-fi/supernatural premise exploited to its fully perverted potential with an abundance of dick jokes, outrageously sexy women, and insane situations. As a comedy it works well, especially in the first half where Sono's pitch-perfect pacing keeps things moving with a high density of ideas.

The acting is about what you'd expect from this kind of movie - not particularly demanding. Shota Sometani overdoes the "geek schoolboy" role a little, and along with Motoki Fukami ensure the tone is often silly schoolboy humour. Erina Mano is cute as the aloof school hottie, and the bevy of models and idols excel at looking good, without being required for much more. Elaiza Ikeda impresses, as her character has a bit more to work with, as does Makita Sports (unusual name?) who is hilarious as the perverted cafe owner. Sono's wife and frequent collaborator Megumi Kagurazaka is always great (see Guilty of Romance and Cold Fish), and the interplay between her and Ken Yasuda is another highlight.

But ultimately the movie drags due to the hokey underlying story arcs which are basically a twisted version of the fight between good and evil, along with that eternal staple, the search for true love. But if you watch this expecting a masterpiece you're in the wrong cinema!

This is Sono lite - a sex comedy that is worth your time, if only for the exuberantly flagrant fan service. Despite the multitude of sexy women in revealing outfits, this is much more a comedy than a sexy movie. For that, I'd recommend Sono's more (relatively) sophisticated films such as Guilty of Romance or Cold Fish.

Rating: 6.5/10
An exuberant and completely over-the-top sex comedy. By no means a masterpiece, but a whole heap of fun. If you like this, check out the TV series which explains more of the back story and is even funnier.

Miyuki (Elaiza Ikeda)

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