Friday, June 13, 2014

Pikanchi 2.5 - Back to the slummin' days when nothing mattered but their friendship

It all started back in 2002. In some movie theater in some corner of Tokyo, a group of the strangest five delinquents were brought to life on the silver screen. It was done without much fanfare, this curiously titled coming-of-age movie: ピカ☆ンチLIFE IS HARD だけど HAPPY (Pik☆nchi Life is Hard Dakedo Happy in English). Just an unremarkable indie film at the time, some castaway project handed down to some floundering Johnny's group, something I would probably have just shrugged at and glanced past if I had known of its existence back then. I'll admit that I'm the kind of person who usually likes the big flashy blockbusters; I'm easily lured by awesome effects and slick cinematography and all those other things in a movie that typically requires deep pockets on the part of the producer. So yes, if I hadn't become a fan of Arashi, I would probably never have looked twice at a movie like Pikanchi.

And my my, how deprived I would have been if that had been the case.

Put your hands up if you want more slummy Arashi acting nothing like the idols they
are today! Wink at me twice if you remember what they're watching in this scene (¬‿¬)

Like really, imagine if I had never met Shun, Chu, Haru, Bon or Takuma. Then I wouldn't have laughed myself half to death watching the scene the picture above is taken from. And I wouldn't have been treated to the amateurishly censored crotches of Japan's now-top idols in the scene below:

"Oshiri ben ben!"

And just because this scene was THAT hilariously iconic, I'll include their bunny-tailed asses in this post, too. You're welcome, ladies and gents.

"Oshiri ben ben!"

Because you know, entertainment isn't always about making it big and having thousands of screens across the country decorated with your flawless face; sometimes, after all that sparkling hot action in bigshot venues (Kokuritsu, anyone?) and all those sizzling scenes with the industry's A-list actresses, maybe there comes a time when you just feel like you want nothing more than to sit back with your best buddies and dick around pointlessly just because you can. Even if it's only for a little bit, like, say, half a movie?

Which brings us to the news that inspired this post, and the storm that had all the Arashi fans (myself included) yapping away on Twitter for most of yesterday (and in case you're wondering, yes,  ピカンチwas totally trending for the longest time on Japanese Twitter).

Warning: this post will quickly devolve into a puddle of fangirl flails. 

It's official. They're making a Pikanchi 2.5, which is not a full-fledged Pikanchi 3 only because it was spur-of-the-moment and done on a whim, according to Nino, and they want it to foreshadow the real Pikanchi 3, according to Jun! Oh, you two... *pets them adoringly* just keep acting on those whims, all right?

So we're going to see our beloved Arashi members don the familiar guises of Shun, Bon, Chu, Haru and Takuma once again! That's right, the boys of Yashio have now grown into men in their 30's, and are ready to confront some real grown-up problems. You can read a translated summary of the news reports on Pikanchi 2.5 here. As it says, Jun and Haru are now going to join Chu in the ranks of married men while Shun opens his own ramen restaurant... on a boat. Ahh... is it just me, or do you others also feel the poetic justice in this settei? The five of them used to hate the party boats that drifted across Tokyo Bay! And Shun was the one who led the entirely AWESOME boat-jacking in the first movie. Anyone remember feeling this pleasant giggle well up in their throats as you heard Aiba Masaki's velvety voice purr, "LOVE IS OVER." from behind that grotesque mask? It's been years, and I still can't get over how someone so youthful and untrained could sound so seductive and menacing. My Aibaby feeeellsss! And now, after spending pretty much all of the second movie knitting white garments and unleashing his inner onee, we get to see Shun return to the boating world, only now in perhaps a more mature sense. Hmm... I wonder if he'll be serving ramen in this sort of garb. Chu and his wife disagree on how to raise their son, so his wife (aka Mizukawa Asami's character) leaves home with the boy. And Takuma turns into what sounds like a roaming bard, crooning all dem laydeez into his arms with that reedy voice of his (he's described as a "bid daddy" in one of the news articles, and I have heard that that's supposed to be a euphemism for having many children scattered around various places? Someone please confirm, because if this is true, my tea is going to come out my nose with laughter).

The storylines have so far only been revealed in this very basic form, but it's enough to send my imagination reeling. The last time we saw Chu, he was employee of the month in some appliances store, working hard for his family, and he totally had a great thing going on with Asami's bold-as-brass character (that moment where she hands him his white yankee uniform == ♥♥). So what happened? Is Sho becoming too much of a sell-out? Hmm... possibilities possibilities... And then there's the never-ending speculation of utmost importance: concerning Nino's style. Because yes, in the first movie he had bright yellow hair. In the second one, he looked like a Dragon Ball Z character AND came with this atrocious looking black leather gear (complete with helmet!) that could probably qualify as one of his "outrageous outfit choices" for VSA. So what's the "big daddy" look gonna manifest as on our squishy Nino-chan? I wonder, I wonder... And Bon... dorky, beaming, hardworking Bon. He apparently falls in love in Okinawa. I wonder if we're getting any beach scenes? I wonder if he's still a chef? I also wonder how our little nerdy-looking Bon is going to look as a wife-snatcher? I highly doubt that even ten years will turn Bon into Koyurugi Souta. For some reason, I keep thinking of that scene in The Graduate... I can see Bon turning into a Benjamin Braddock without too much stretch of my imagination (fun side note: didn't Nino re-enact that very wedding scene for one of their Jr. TV shows? Ahh~ *dies a little*). Haru is apparently married to his first love (which some think is the cougar lady he was banging who was banging him, but others think it might be the daughter *shrug* I vote for the cougar! She was fierce; I liked her), and now has a son. WHOA THERE! Papa Ohno? Repeat, PAPA OHNO?? I've wanted this ever since the moment I saw Naruse-sensei take little Sora-chan's hand in Maou.

I often say that Pikanchi was one of the things that really cemented my love for Arashi as a group, and well, it's largely due to these five minutes in the latter half of the film, which I feel are worth reliving with y'all. 

Laughing without a care in the world, the boys (minus Chu) make their
grand escape into the bay as sirens sound in the background.
Master Demolisher Chu greets them with a "BOMM!"
as they stumble to a stop, still breathless from the running.
"Eh? Haru, what's up with you?"
Haru: "I've become a man."
Others: "..........."
Haru: "I... had sex!" (beams and sends fangirls aehbeibaphibah dfljvbefvbashfib)
Others: (look at each other, then run over to grab, pet, punch, ruffle and in all bro-ey ways congratulate Haru)
Let me just pause for a moment and say one thing: Ohno's pout. I think this might have been the first place that his famous puffy cheeks and pouty jut of his chin really made an impression on me. Because oh god, our Satoshi-kun is really just a little boy here. A cute little boy begging to be cuddled and... errm.. taken advantage of *wink wink wink*

Okay now back to the movie. The five delinquents are all whistling and giggling as they run back to Takuma's apartment. They're relishing in their youth, their recklessness and their victory at having just pulled off one of the most EPIC pranks in Yashio.... and then... 

The laughter dies on their lips as the grim sight of Takuma's hanging father greets them. 
All pranks are forgotten as the cruel reality pushes them all to grow up in that one split second. 
Takuma: "Your stocks, don't lose them."
Haru (mumbling): "Baka."
I loved the silence, the tension, and the terse, halting way that Takuma and Haru showed their concern for each other. I love how Takuma is still trying to act like the leader of the group, like he needs to look after the other members even when he's the one breaking inside. And I love Haru's defiant baka, which pushes the love right back to Takuma and tells him... yes, yes, it's okay to cry... it's okay to worry about just yourself for now...

Silence... and then, in a soft voice, Takuma commands his friends, "Go home, guys."
No one moves. Takuma raises his voice. "Enough!" (actually, he says いいから! but I'll take some liberties with context). 
Still, no one moves. 

Then, Chu says, "Shun, you should go home."
Bon: "It's tomorrow, isn't it? The Aoyama exam."
Haru:"What do you think you're doing? You've worked so hard these days."
Shun just turns his head so his eyes catch a bit of the dim light, and says, "Ussei!"
(for all those not familiar with slang-ey Japanese, Ussei = Urusai)
Pause again. I felt my heart squeeze itself dry when I heard Aiba's "Ussei!" It's Takuma who's kneeling there with a dead father and a missing mother, but it's him his friends are all most worried about, because, as they say later, Shun's their hope, their person to be proud of for, and despite their prior sense of betrayal at Shun's decision to walk the "straight path" of studying hard and going to university, they honestly, from the bottom of their delinquent hearts, want Shun to succeed. 

Takuma breaks his silence from his spot closest to his father. "Go home!"
Still, no one moves. 
Takuma turns his head, but still can't bear to look at his friends straight on. "SHUN!"
Shun snaps right back at him, "Baka! As long as I'm living there's hope!"

And then, this shot:
Takuma lets his first tear trickle down his cheek.
And cue the waterworks. Though it's really beautifully restrained. Just a streak or two
down the cheek. Almost silently. Ahhhh~ Heart. Broken.
The camera cuts back to Takuma's silhouette as he heaves a few more restrained sobs and then everything goes black. 

And there. That was it. My favorite scene of the entire Pikanchi series. Seriously, if that doesn't show the sort of kizuna that should tie a group of friends together, than I don't know what does. And for that alone, this movie was worth watching and re-watching and remembering. Because no matter how far apart these five boys grow, no matter what path life takes them on in the future, it's emotions like these that you'll hold on to when you feel lost and need to ground yourself in something familiar and safe. You'll remember "hey, I was once a person like that, and they were my brothers in tears." And then perhaps you won't feel so alone or lost anymore. I wonder if Arashi members ever look back on their early days like this; I wonder if they have any memories of riding out a tough situation together and comforting each other in the darkness like this. Of course, it might not be so dramatic, but they've certainly had their load of shared troubles. I wonder if all this "going back to their roots" business on their 5x15 year is their silent tribute to those years they like to fondly look back on now. 

Gee, when did this post turn into my wistful speculations about what goes on inside Arashi's heads? Arrgh, see what you do to me, Pikanchi? You make me contemplate stuff. Too much. 

Time to sign off. And go loop Michi and Michi Double. 


  1. I'm really looking forward to how this movie is going to turn out. But we all know that Arashi doesn't disappoint, so no need to worry, haha. I'm glad they are doing something this awesome to celebrate their 15th anniversary, IN STYLE. Not to mention the BLAST in Hawaii thing.

    1. Yup =D Right now, I don't even care that I can't attend either the BLAST or the Pikanchi 2.5 screening. I'm just soooo happy that I can finally find out what happens to the five Pikanchi boys and that Arashi can have fun goofing off in Hawaii!

  2. hye, its been a long time since your last post. SERIOUSLY, I AGREED WITH YOU. there was Haru before Naruse Ryo, there was Takuma before Ariake Koichi, there was Bon before the great Domyoji Tsukasa, there was Chu before Yoshimoto Kyoya and there was Shun before Kazama Masamune. I cant elaborate just like you, but I understand that. There is always the stupid and lovable boys behind those charismatic actor and idol and their friendship is always their pride.

    1. Hello! Hisashiburi! I went on a little fic-writing phase, so I spent most of my fangirling time doing that for most of May haha. Sorry I neglected this blog for a bit >< You are absolutely right! We will always remember the idiotic, delinquent but lovable five characters from Pikanchi =P I can't wait to see how they've grown up.

    2. And I forgot to say, as usual, its awesome. Before each of them grab numerous awards of best actor, there were 5 boys, idiotic 5 boys.

  3. And I forgot to say, as usual, its awesome. Before each of them grab numerous awards of best actor, there were 5 boys, idiotic 5 boys.

    1. Of course =D A part of us will always remember them as those five baka boys =D

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