Japanese nationalism and divinity are promulgated like ruthless propaganda in a gruesome martial arts film. Cherry Bushido whitewashes past atrocities in response to current geopolitical threats. The premise has a warrior “chosen” by God to defend Japan against attacks in the real and astral world. Anyone who disagrees with the dogma of the protagonists is a coward controlled by an evil demon. Japan faces security challenges from its authoritarian neighbors. But the idea that the country is irreproachable refers to a dangerous ethnocentric ideology.
Shizuka Yamato (Yoshiko Sengen) is a university student worried about her country. The Republic of Sodorrah launches missiles towards Japan and continually violates its territorial waters. Shizuka and her family watch reports of politicians fumbling through the crisis. Shizuka has nightmares where Japan is destroyed in a nuclear assault. She writes an opinion piece in a local newspaper pleading for Japan to defend itself. Don’t depend on the United States or foreign allies for help.
Shizuka is a skilled fighter in the arts of samurai. She easily defeats the challengers in a fake movie audition. Shizuka is introduced to Satoshi Takayama (Hiroaki Tanaki), a leader of the Japan Salvation Conference. God considered her a righteous savior destined to save Japan. She must learn to astral project herself. Then lead a JSC team into the spirit world to defeat the great demon of Hades. Meanwhile, the Japanese government struggles to handle a Sodorrah missile launch.
Cherry Bushido lasts a long time
Cherry Bushido caught me completely off guard. I watched expecting to see a martial arts fantasy about a female samurai. Japanese ultra-nationalism, religious extremism, terrible action and poor visual effects were a huge disappointment. The painfully long two-hour runtime made it feel like sitting in a rehab classroom.
The Republic of Sodorrah is a combination of China and North Korea. The film visually depicts Sodorrah on several maps as China. They build island outposts, disrespect the maritime rights of Pacific nations, and engage in mass imprisonment. The missile launches reflect North Korea’s nuclear aggression. These are legitimate and serious security concerns for Japan. It makes sense for the country to strengthen its defensive capabilities.
Cherry Bushido sinks directly into oppression with its management of dissidents. These people are portrayed as weak peacemakers willingly under the control of an evil spirit. Shizuka and her JSC acolytes march through the streets of Japan to expose fake media. It’s a right-wing textbook that reeks of fascism. Their path is the true path. Everyone else capitulates to an unholy aggressor. Shizuka is no different from any religious fanatic proclaiming divine guidance. These scenes are alarming.
I had major issues with dealing with Japanese soldiers in WWII. They are portrayed as heroes who fought valiantly for their country. You can respect the sacrifice of your ancestors. But not mentioning or taking any responsibility for Japan’s horrific war crimes is unconscionable. The rape of Nanjing, the sexual slavery of comfort women and the brutal treatment of prisoners of war can never be ignored.
Japan is a fantastic country with an amazing culture and people. There’s nothing wrong with wanting it harder. Current events continue to prove that the powerful subjugate the weak. Cherry Bushido is a poor vehicle of Japanese patriotism. His use of religion is particularly disturbing.
Cherry Bushido is a Japanese film (愛国女子-紅武士道) dubbed in English. It is produced by IRH Press Co., Ari Production and New Star Production. Cherry Bushido will have a selective theatrical release on March 11 from Freestyle Releasing.
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