Nerd-revenge genre crosses over to Japanese 'Buddah'


POSTED: Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's entirely possible that every filmmaker was a loser or nerd in high school, and their chosen profession is a lifelong passion for revenge. It explains the film subgenre of high-school nerds who “;win”; over the cool guys.

Apparently that's also the case in Japanese schools, even religious Buddhist academies such as the one Jun attends. He's a gangly kid who's enraptured by the female form and all the tantalizing mysteries that budding young women present. So much so that when his pals—also nerdish—suggest spending a few days at a vacation retreat, they convince themselves that the place is awash with “;free sex.”; They've given up on the girls from the Catholic school.





        Not Rated

Screens 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and next Sunday; Dec. 29 and 30; Jan. 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7; and 1 p.m. Thursday and Dec. 31 at the Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Academy of Arts






This tale, set in 1974 and based on the vaguely autobiographical novel by Jun Miura, naturally doesn't go that far, although it's a fair amount of fun taking the trip with them. And the movie ends fairly, with the kids still mystified by women, which is as it should be.

Stylistically, it's fair to think of “;Oh, My Buddah!”; as a kind of Japanese “;Napoleon Dynamite.”; It has the same kind of drifty, Zen quality to the interactions, as well as the amiable goofiness of the characters. As Jun, Daichi Watanabe has a rubbery clownishness that's nearly as affecting as it is amusing, but it's Asami Usuda who steals the film as Olive, a good-hearted older girl who appreciates Jun's earnest appeal.




”;Oh, My Buddah!”; trailer



“;Oh, My Buddah!”; is directed with a light hand by actor Tomorowo Taguchi, whom you might remember from some years back as the cyberpunk Tetsuo the Iron Man. That is, right up to the end, when the class nerd suddenly becomes a rock god. That's nerd revenge working itself out in the screenplay.

And no, we don't know why it's spelled “;Buddah”; and not “;Buddha.”; The release title of the film was supposed to be “;Shikisoku zenereishon,”; or “;The Shikisoku Generation.”; By any name, it's an amusing way to enjoy the last entry in the Honolulu Academy of Arts' Japanese film minifestival. It's billed as a “;world premiere.”;

(Producer Yuko Shiomaki will introduce “;Oh, My Buddah!”; at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and will be available afterward for audience questions.)