25 November 2013

Movie Review: Gymnasium Baby (Taiikunan Baby / 体育館ベイビー)

 Now there come points in every creative persons life where  they realize that something quite obvious and directly in front of them has been invisible until those points where the point slaps you in the face. Intuitively, I have been watching these yaoi films and I'm like, "why didn't they have these when I was a teenager?" But the more I watched, the more situations I would consider "gay" seemed to recede deeper and deeper into the background until, like a homeopathic remedy, it was no longer discoverable.

But you see, this is the point. I have watched almost ten thousand full length feature films in my life. Most of them involved characters who were heterosexual and the heterosexuality was not in issue and so, was unnoticed (at least in non-misogynistic films, otherwise the compulsory heterosexuality was really revved up and obvious). So how is it that I can watch a series of films with main characters who are gay and stumble wondering what is gay about these films because there is no man-on-man action? The yaoi films I have been reviewing recently are like the opposite of most Philippine gay films. I would say they are like two extremes in a range of romantic-sexual expression.

In Gymnasium Baby, we have Jun Shibahara. He is the product of the school swim coach and a former student (Jun's late mother). Jun is a competitive swimmer who loses to Naoki Murai during a summer invitational. Naoki is his rival which makes the whole thing even more of a loss for Jun. Jun also has a best friend/childhood friend Shouichi Katou.

Meet Yuichi Nakamura as Jun Shibahara

At some point Jun and Naoki are talking late at night at the pool (which happens for some reason to be without water) when Naoki gets up on the short diving platform and dives in backward. Jun catches him where Naoki tells him he knows he's safe with Jun and then kisses him. This sets the stage for Jun to ask Shouichi if he ever thought of being in a romantic relationship with another man. This complicates the whole thing because although Shouichi has a terminally ill "female" friend, he is in love with Jun and dreams of the two of them going to some famous university together -- they study together for the exams and take the exams together. Naoki, on the other hand, is like this ghost that keeps haunting Jun. So its Naoki v. Shouichi and although Naoki is honest about how he feels and Shouichi isn't, it seems like Naoki is the bad guy. The ending is totally unexpected which makes it a great ending.

So, in sum, this is a movie with gay characters and a gay plot with absolutely no gay sex or hint of gay sex. If you have been indoctrinated by a homophobic, patriarchal upbringing, it may be difficult to fully register the value of this film and films like it. But so long as they are available on youtube, I will review them. lol

No comments:

Post a Comment