It's a classic 1980s children's "rebellion against tight arsed authority" adventure movie, except Japanese. Tomok says it was huge back in the day. I'd been looking forward to it, but to my surprise it's so thin that you'd barely say it has a plot at all.
Our heroes are a bunch of junior high schoolchildren. School sucks. Their teachers will go through the children's bags for prohibited items, get out a ruler to check the girls' skirt lengths for uniform violations and will cut your fringe in front of everyone if they think you've got a non-regulation haircut. One of them is a bullying karate macho man. They shout and scream, even at parents. They'll also hit their pupils.
Home life isn't great either. Mothers would like their husbands to do more than just disappear off to work. Fathers think that a pay cheque is the sum of their responsibilities and that their wives are nagging.
That's just set-up, though. The plot involves the kids rebel and running off to play truant for a week and hang out as a gang. That's it. That's the whole film. It ends with them going back to school again, seemingly content at having achieved nothing except to piss off their Nazi-wannabe teachers. Don't think about it too hard. Obviously the authorities try to bring them back and the film ends up as riot police vs. Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone (and only two years before that film, incidentally). Our heroes find a tank. They also hammer lots of nails into a board to make a trap that by rights should have killed someone.
The boys are boys. They're mostly characterised en masse, except for a fat one and a biker gang one who starts an insanely stupid fist fight because girls have been allowed into their boys' enclave. (Three girls help the boys, bring them food and end up participating in the last-act grand battle.) There's also a hot teacher in a red dress who's sympathetic to the rebels.
...and that's all there is, really. It's fantasy, really. Where did the children get all those fireworks at the end? They can't possibly have paid for them. Japan's police can't possibly be that rubbish, even if I have seen The Asama-Sansou Incident. Mind you, junior high school students can't be expelled in Japan.
At the same time, though, in other ways this film was true to life. Its kids aren't Hollywood Teenagers, for starters. They really look as young as they're meant to be. Sometimes they even look ugly, geeky or different, which I applaud. What's more, all those school and home problems they're facing are accurate. All that used to happen. Teachers hitting their pupils would sometimes happen, for instance, although of course today it would stir up the most almighty fuss. Tomoko herself has had scissors taken to a regulation-infringing haircut in class. If you were a Japanese schoolchild in the 1980s, this film spoke to you.
There's a Bokura no nanoka-kan sensou 2, by the way. It came out in 1991, but it's less well-known and it's not a sequel. It's just an adaptation of another novel in the same children's series by Osamu Soda.
For a film that was big at the time, there's not much about this on the internet in English. You also can't watch it in English, with the only DVD release being a Japanese one with no English subtitles. It's nothing special, to be honest. It's low-intellect fluff, although also amusing for how completely and utterly 1980s it is. Even the soundtrack will make your hair go bouffant. It's likeable, though. It's good-natured and innocent. It's hard to imagine it being made today, for various reasons.