(C)1996 Bandai Visual, OFFICE KITANO

Japan, 1996, 107minutes

Director: Takeshi Kitano
Leading Players:
Ken Kaneko, Masanobu Ando, Reo Morimoto, Mitsuko Oka, Ryo Ishibashi, Susumu Terajima


Shinji runs into a familiar face. It is no other than Masaru, his classmate and buddy he fooled around with when they were in high school. Masaru was the tougher one, and Shinji always hid behind his buddy.
In those days, perhaps the only thing the boys were interested in was acrobatic bicycle riding. Shinji would pedal. riding backwards, while Masaru stood on the back and steered. Only great partners like them were able to ride like this. Making circles on the school playground, they thought their fun ride would never come to an end.

The boys were juvenile delinquents of a second-rate high school. Even though they were fully aware of their poor grades, they were irritated when their homeroom teacher and other members of the faculty considered them an existence to be ignored. As if to get even with the teachers, they behaved at will. Their day began by a ride on their bicycles to their favorite coffee shop for coffee, toast and a cigarette. One of their classmates, Hiroshi, also frequented this coffee shop because he was in love with the waitress. Watching the girl in admiration, Hiroshi became an easy target of mockery by Masaru and Shinji, who eventually left for school if they felt like it. They were rarely found in the classroom. Instead, they indulged in every kind of mischief, from hanging a teacher doll, made from broom, from the school building roof to setting fire on a snobbish teacher's car. Despite their "bad attitude," the boys were not necessarily hated by all, since they would often punish the school bully.

In winter when college entrance exams were approaching, the lessons at school stressed techniques for passing the exams. With no intention of going to college, Masaru and Shinji felt more and more alienated, and their attendance at school became more scarce.
After earning a few bucks one afternoon by ripping off other students, they cheerfully entered a noodle shop. As they sat at the counter, a gang family foot soldier (Susumu Terajima) began throwing them words of abuse. Just as they were about to end up in a fight, the gang family officer settled the potentially explosive situation. Masaru could not help admiring the man.
One night Masaru and Shinji are called out by a group of students they had ripped off before. As they arrived at the designated spot, a young man, slim in body and stature, appeared before them. In a flash, the young man produced a punch so powerful, and knocked Masaru flat on his back. Shinji stood in fear looking at his groaning buddy. The next morning, Masaru disappeared. He was no where to be seen: at his home, at the coffee shop, on the school building roof, in the classroom...Alone without his buddy, Shinji felt helpless.

On the day of the graduation, Shinji finally reunited with Masaru at the school bicycle park. In a bright red gym suit, Masaru demonstrated a bit of shadow boxing. Riding his bicycle next to Masaru as he continued his road work, Shinji, too, joined the boxing gym without much thought.
A few months later, Shinji made his debut as a boxer, and was given the qualification to be a challenger. The gym president's passionate gaze was on Shinji as he produced his jabs accompanied by rhythmic footwork. The gym staff had discovered Shinji's potential for a professional boxer, and possibly a champ. the school bully, who followed Masaru and Shinji's footsteps and joined the gym, could be seen in the background, but Masaru had disappeared from the scene. Shinji, who was always dependant on Masaru, had beaten him in the road work, and knocked him cold during the fun sparing Masaru forced Shinji to take part in. For Masaru, Shinji was no longer the Whimp, hiding behind him.