Half Naked School
Moving to a new town can be a trying time for anyone and the matter magnifies many-fold when you're a young schoolgirl from a burgeoning Tokyo suburb who is whisked away to the boondocks due to an ill-timed parental transfer work assignment. Your friends whom you have built up throughout the years become nothing but ones and zeros making up nearly anonymous ASCII-art and emoticon-filled text messages and that sumptuous morning view from your bedroom after an all-niter of studying (or being glued to the phone) fades away and becomes just another blurry footnote in your memories.
For Yuka Sakurai, moving to a new school in a new town a lifetime away from the high life of the supernal Tokyo superb of Kyoudo is a reality she has must face.
Putting on her old uniform for the last time, she treks to her new school and this is where this aurally normal but visually bizarre story unfolds. Yuka Sakurai is about to enter the Japanese version of an alternate reality well past the fifth dimension of heterodoxy and into the true blue unknown: a strange Japanese school where all female students and faculty remain half naked at all times.
Welcome to the Zenra Half Naked School.
Taking place in presumably the same universe as the previously shown Half Zenra Life, Half Naked School is a very real drama about the elegiac school days of a class of seniors nearing graduation. From the first scene onward, we're given the bucolic pleasure of reliving part of our youth and the warm feeling of those halcyon days of bitter trials commingling with freedom and lack of serious responsibility. This warm feeling of wistful love the Japanese often refer to as "moe" hangs on like a welcome comforter till the end when "Hotaru no Hikari" (aka "The Fireflies' Light" aka "Auld Lang Syne") is sung with tearful eyes as each student clutches his and her graduation diplomas.
Classroom activities in the half naked universe don't veer much from the norm. The only exception being the half nudity that the schoolgirls and teachers like share. The first scene does a fantastic job in showing this as after Sakurai-san is introduced, she is instructed to take a seat in the back next to two chirpy classmates both clad in navy blue sailor uniforms, long white socks capped by lambent black leather shoes and nothing else. The only thing between their hard wooden seat and exposed Japanese butts and thick thighs are thin cushions.
As soon as Sakurai-san is settled in her new desk, her bottomless female neighbors begin commenting about her very stylish uniform. They remark on how much better it is than theirs oblivious to the fact that she is fully clothed, dress, panties, and all the while their most intimate regions are exposed for everyone. Strangely, Sakurai doesn't bat an eye at the bizarreness the female teachers and students at this school subscribe to.
At times it almost feels like the half nakedness of the students is a weird hallucination. One scene that stands out features a large group of bottomless (and occasionally topless as well!) schoolgirls engaging in light chatter in their classroom post-cleaning and a mischievous male student in full gakuran buttoned up to the neck (the issue of buttons becomes paramount at this production's conclusion) uses the back of a broom to raise Sakurai's skirt to peak at her private yet panty-clad regions leading her to shriek in chagrined surprise. Her new-found friends ask what's the matter and she recounts to them the embarrassing situation which predictably leads her friends to chastise the rambunctious male student who up until this moment was dancing around his half naked Japanese peers like an amped up orangutan.
The fact that he (and all the other male students and teachers) seem to not comprehend the always-on nudity of their female counterparts is strange to say the least. Perhaps to them the nudity is real and since it's always visible, it's taken for granted but when a cute, new pert transfer student arrives in a full bonafied Tokyo school uniform from head to toe, their carnal instincts kick into overdrive.
That or this is an alternate dimension. Either way it's very, very strange yet visually appealing as this Half Naked school further pounds in the strange new Japanese concept of sexual non-sexual.
The half naked world extends well beyond the classroom and even makes its way into the administration office where secretarial staff remain bottomless at all times. Even a distraught matronly guardian barges into the office with her butt and full Japanese bush exposed all the while dragging her awkward charge by the ear to the front of the bemused principle while ordering him to formally apologize for acting out in class for the umpteenth time (later on in the same scene, she's offhandedly described as an insatiable helicopter parent!). While her embarrassing daily tirade with the principal begins yet again, three half naked schoolgirls along with their intellectual glasses-clad teacher--all bottomless mind you--engage in a trying conversation on what you can and can't bring to school.
From a western viewpoint where freedom is of utmost sanctity even in the halls of education, bringing electronic devices is something most teachers wouldn't bat an eye at so long as they are not used during class, but the same does not hold true in Japan. No matter what your age, bringing a portable game device to class can land you in a good deal of trouble as these three stark naked from the waist schoolgirls learn as their cross-legged bottomless teacher scolds them for their immaturity. It doesn’t help that their test grades are barely sufficient for graduation and bowing and muttering a gamut of apologies, the teacher grudgingly returns their game system while warning them not to bring it to school ever again.
Now all these conversations and scene highlights may sound very banal in the grand scheme of things. It really is just another day at school for students and teachers alike. However, when the fairer sex mysteriously alternates from being bottomless and topless, the eye wanders to their more intimate and very exposed areas while wondering "Why?".
After an announcement from the aforementioned mature faculty member with an exposed derriere that is an absolute rarity among those of Japanese descent, they begin an almost excessively long exercise drill that goes on and on for almost thirty minutes. Here we see them perform a smorgasbord of warmups and basic stretching that take the traditional morning Japanese radio exercises that are slowly and elegiacally becoming a thing of the past (the exception being construction workers and government employees who may listen to the exercises every morning but almost never perform them).
From jumping jacks to stretching in place to hip thrusts and various nostalgic arm movements that beg the question of physiological efficacy are acted out by this large group of bottomless (and towards the end, topless) Japanese schoolgirls and faculty alike. Overhead angles showing the mass of students perform as one is a given along with closer and more intimate shots such as slowly panning over each student from behind as they lean forward in a strange leap frog receiver motion is one of the highlights of this segment.
The conclusion of Half Naked School is the short and bittersweet graduation ceremony featuring bottomless and topless schoolgirls totally fine with their bizarre raiment situation lined up clutching diplomas as their teary-eyed principle wishes them well on their future journeys wherever life may take them. As the camera slowly pans across each round and fresh Japanese butt, we are treated to one final look at school innocence before panning upwards and seeing a collection of equally teary-eyed faces. The ceremony concludes with everyone singing Hotaru no Hikari and then segues to the most important part of graduation day: confessions.
Since this is the last time many students will see each other, this day also marks the final 'chance' love-infused confessions can be made. One charming scene takes place outdoors by the physical education storage room (and yes, for those with sharp eyes, this is the same alleyway and the same storage room used in Futanari Village features a lone bottomless Japanese schoolgirl anxiously waiting while clutching her diploma as her two equally panty- and skirt-less friends drag a male classmate over.
Along with jokingly calling him an inept imbecile, she queries him if he has given his second button to anyone yet. Now what exactly is the importance of the second button of a male Japanese school uniform--the gakuran? The second button is directly above one's heart. Traditionally, it is given to your true love and is the fiery theme of many school-age romance mangas. If you want to go out with a classmate after graduation, you give her this button as a sign of your commitment (it's somewhat akin to giving a woman a red rose).
Being the marginally inept student he is (and who isn't at this time of their life?), the aforementioned lone name-calling bottomless schoolgirl leans over and undoes the button for him while saying that perhaps they should start dating. He stammers out a 'sure...' and with the green light finally given, she leans up and kisses him as her friends voicelessly shake and jump with unchained glee. A new Japanese student couple has become a reality due to their keen matchmaking ability--or simply hormones.
On the other hand, Zenra Half Naked school continues the sexual non-sexual trend of Half Zenra Life where nudism goes hand in hand with the regular Japanese grind and although there is no actual sexuality shown (aside from one instance of a skirt-rising prank and a kiss at the end), it's surely an important part of the production since the female inhabitants of this bizarre alternate world always have their well-formed reproductive parts on full display.
Lastly, being an actual drama, Half Naked Schoolwould be near pointless to watch without knowing what its denizens are saying thus the inclusion of full and exclusive English subtitles plays a strong part in becoming well acquainted with this strange world of partial yet accepted Japanese schoolgirl and teacher nudity.
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