Of Onsens, Innocence, and Cash Grab’s – DTC from HiGH&LOW – The Movie

Ah, you thought I was done with revisiting things from year’s past? You would be incorrect my dears. I am never done with that sort of thing, since I am a completionist. I also have major case of FMO which has been escalated a bit.

I got Hulu in Japan specifically so I could finish watching the HiGH&LOW (H&L) movies I never got around to. However in late December Hulu put the dreaded “Until 1/18” label on all H&L films, so now I am in semi-frenzy during my vacation to watch. I figured with five films, I’d be easiest to knock out the most recent movie, which is DTC’s film. So, since DTC the mini drama really didn’t contribute much to H&L how did the film fare? 

“DTC from HiGH&LOW Steam and Innocence” (a loose translation), continues vaguely where the drama let off. The trio are bored after all the drama of S.W.O.R.D. being resolved, and despite their lack of money or pre-planning; they get their motorcycles fixed up and go on a road trip! Along the way of course, they run out of money and options so they end up working for a Japanese inn owned by the beautiful Mari (Fueki Yuko). Chiharu (Sato Taiki) falls head over heels for Mari, but is scorned by Mari’s daughter Megumi and knows that Mari and Miyazaki, the head-clerk of the hotel, are infatuated with one another. With Dan (Yamashita Kenjiro) and Tetsu (Santa Kanta) at his side, and maybe just a little help from unexpected places, they hatch a plan to bring them together…

I… don’t have much to say about this film honestly. It’s not bad, by any means. The acting from all cast, plot, locations and everything are fine. I’d even argue that from a cinematography perspective this film utilizes location way better then any other H&L film. I am mighty tempted to look up and go to the onsen town they filmed at and go there myself, to be honest. 

The biggest problem was pacing. The first 45 minutes of an hour and 42 minute film, dragged needlessly. This was the biggest point of knowing this film was cash-grab fodder, since that first 45 minutes contributed absolutely nothing to the film. Aside from a few bits of dialogue, and a cameo of Yamato (Suzuki Nobuyuki), there no point, no plot progression. They could have cut it down to about ten minutes and still accomplished the points and goals that they stretched out for 45 minutes. Additionally, while I didn’t hate the more comedic elements of the series, that was more or less was DTC was used for in the original H&L, it was borderline obnoxious. With DTC becoming the main characters this time around, the humor should have been re-worked to accommodate that change. 

Aside from those few flaws though, the biggest problem is that this film ultimately lacks the heart of HiGH&LOW. I hate calling H&L a “beat ’em up and bond” kind of series, but it is. It’s known for the intense fight scenes, aggressive “I RESPECTED YOU!!” screaming matches, with actual conflict and ultimately resolution. Without conflict, and mutual respect between rival S.W.O.R.D groups at the core to move the plot along, this doesn’t really feel like a H&L film. It looks and feels like a sanitized “this-was-going-to-be-a-subplot-for-someone-but-got-cut” story arch that should have stayed that way.

This film arguably has no holes as a stand-alone but it just doesn’t do it for me. It looks, feels and is just a paycheck for DTC’s actors despite none of them needing it. They’re all booking non-H&L projects just fine since the original series ended. Overall, this film just served as a terrible transition piece from S.W.O.R.D. to “THE WORST”, with little to no rhyme or reason for it. 

I didn’t mind spending the time to watch it. I wanted to be absolutely sure I wasn’t missing anything (my FMO from before), and ultimately skipping this film won’t harm your view of S.W.O.R.D. or “THE WORST”. 


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