I must confess that I’m reasonably certain I’ve approached the Japanese “Perfect Education” series with the wrong perspective. With “Perfect Education 2”, which I saw and reviewed before the original, I mistakenly took the whole movie seriously. I now know that this approach is wrong. If anything, the “Education” series is not the least bit serious about exploring the nature and consequences of abducting a high school girl for the purpose of training her to be a docile sex toy.
As so far as I can tell (and as so far as I am interested in trying to figure out), the “Education” series is exploitative in nature, and geared toward those who thinks that having a teenage sex toy is not all that hard, and given the right temperament and patience, one can be trained to not only like them, but love them. Or at least that’s what I’m going with. You can disagree, but I’ve already wasted time watching and reviewing both installments in the series and I can safely say that I have no interest in reviewing a third, should one ever get made.
Having said that, “Perfect Education” stars Naoto Takenaka (“Ping Pong”), who appeared in the sequel as an unrelated character. The teen sexpot this time around is Kojima Hiriji, whose Kuniko is abducted while jogging in the evening. The movie wastes little time with the abduction, and by the 20-minute mark the spunky (and, as it turns out, incredibly easygoing) Kuniko has decided that it might be fun to play her kidnapper’s game. She also decides that maybe she can train him before he trains her. And so begins the fun.
Unlike the kidnapped victim in the sequel, Hiriji’s Kuniko seems so disinterested in escape that it’s laughable Takenaka’s Iwazono still has to keep cuffing her while he’s off at work. But of course his reasons for cuffing and gagging her is no longer about keeping her from escaping, but rather part of his method of training her — a process she has now willingly accepted. Actually, Iwazono’s neighbors are more interested in liberating the girl than she is.
Like the sequel, there are attempts by screenwriter Kaneto Shindo and director Ben Wada to make us empathize with the abductor. And like his fellow kidnapper in the sequel, Iwazono apologizes for kidnapping the girl, as if that’s all it would take to clear the slate for his crimes. It should be noted that the series has featured very high production values, even though the series is mostly set in one room — the kidnapper’s cramped apartment. Still, you can see that both films were not shot on a low budget.
“The Perfect Education” also has two good actors in Takenaka and Hiriji. Unlike the kidnapped victim in the sequel, Hiriji can actually act. Which goes a long way to convince us that the movie is only interested in being a character study and a loose satire about the changing state (and meaning) of “love” in Japan. I guess. To be honest, I don’t really care to delve any deeper into the movie’s hidden subtexts. I’m sorry, but my interest in the series is such that I simply cannot force myself to dig any deeper than what I present to you here.
As for the inevitable sex, Hiriji is not nearly as attractive as the sequel’s heroine, but she does bring more heat to the action. And while actor Takenaka is no physical prize to gawk at, the energetic sex scenes between him and his young co-star are very erotic. It should be added that there’s nothing too revealing in the sex, and the nudity is not completely gratuitous.
Although there was more than one necessary scene of Kuniko taking cold showers in the buff, so you figure it out.
Ben Wada (director) / Michiko Matsuda (novel), Kaneto Shindo (screenplay)
CAST: Naoto Takenaka …. Iwazono
Kojima Hiriji …. Kuniko
Kazuki Kitamura …. Tsuda