DVD Review: DROP (2009)

Damon Swindall

by: Damon Swindall
July 4th, 2011


High school is hell. Not many people will argue that point. Everyone there wants to be someone else or be somewhere else. Evidently in Japan there are some manga about juvenile delinquents that portray them as anti-heroes for some kids who need an escape, though some kids might actually aspire join. This is the subject of Hiroshi Shinagawa’s 2009 film DROP (DOROPPU) recently released Stateside on DVD from anime giants Funimation.

Hiroshi (Hiroki Narimiya) is one of the young teens obsessed with the delinquent heroes in his favorite manga, so much so that he drops out of his nice private school for the seedy world of - gulp - public school. On his first day he meets a group of rough and tough punks that beat him bloody but then pick him up into the fold. Each of the five core members has their own area of expertise, be it fighting, thievery or just looking pretty, and they use these gifts to get in plenty of trouble. Over the school year the gang grows tight together, stand-up for one another, get in a lot of fights and dress awesomely the whole time.

The story is based on an autobiographical manga by Shinagawa, which you might be able to tell since the lead character is named after him. This film has Hiroshi playing the member of the group with more of a lover’s spirit than that of a fighter. He also serves as a major source of the comic relief, though they all do their part. As a whole the film is much funnier than expected. Action enthusiasts don’t fret, there is plenty of fighting too. Probably somewhere close to 20 separate instances of throwdowns! Not sure how realistic these fight scenes are since they constantly brain each other metal pipes and baseball bats yet get up and walk away. That part might have been stretched from the truth for entertainment purposes.

An interesting aspect of Japanese counter/youth culture is their obsession with Western World things. The dress code of the delinquents is somewhat of a pot luck of, mostly, American fashions. Some of them look a little more punk and other have a very rockabilly vibe with some HUGE pompadours. People do say, “the taller the hair, the closer to God.” The clothing takes steps toward the Mod look with ties and jacket on the upper body but the pants are something of an exaggerated zoot suit cut. And the delinquents are the only ones. A few of the secondary characters are construction workers who all appear to wear brightly colored matching genie-ish pants and vests! Why can’t the guys building skyscrapers here in the U.S. dress that awesome?

For as great as this movie can be with the high action and moments of comedy it really feels lacking. At two hours it’s almost as if it’s too short, like there should be more to the story. Then again, maybe there should be less. The main problem are the many side stories that never seem to fully develop and just feel like unnecessary filler. Certain moments between Hiroshi and the girl he likes never really go anywhere and doesn’t really add anything. Maybe this has to do with the source material since much more can be put into books/manga but it might be beneficial to have made this into a TV series rather than a one-off film. There you would get to flesh out the many interesting secondary characters, like gang leader Tatsuya’s (Hiro Mizushima) ex-Yakuza dad, and build a rich world around them. Even the end of this film has the feel that many series finales share.

Even with a few faults this is a great film and is definitely worth the watch. At times the film is very reminiscent of a teen coming-of-age tale mixed with some punk cinema like SUBURBIA (1983). Unfortunately there aren’t any extras, save for some trailers, but it has made me a lot more curious about seeking out more media based on these tales of Japanese delinquent badasses.

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