This borstal-boy movie, so different from our own dear Scum, contains little violence and less sociology; it subsumes all the usual puberty blues stuff into an exceptionally moving account of one boy learning the hard way that it's best to 'run at your own pace' - a daring leap into individualism for Japan in the late 1970s. The key name on the credits is Terayama, who not only adapted Haku Kenju's novel but also provided much of the cast and several of the crew from his theatre company Tenjo-sajiki. A lot of the themes are pure Terayama too: confinement as the door to fantasy, an obsession with flying, the kid nicknamed 'Mr Poetry' who writes haiku about borstal life. In his first major role as the baseball playing anti-hero, Nagashima registers strongly: a brooding, volatile presence.
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