Image Source: 映画『斉木楠雄のΨ難』公式‏ on Twitter

Last year’s The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. is an anime about the daily life and misadventures of a superpowered psychic who just wants to live a normal life. Unfortunately, his powers keep getting in the way. The new live-action film is exactly the same, only, you know, with actors instead of animation.

Saiki K. Shows Being a Psychic Isn’t Fun, But It Is Funny

The live-action film is an amalgamation of several of the early arcs of the anime rolled into one and is centered around the school’s upcoming cultural festival. If there are any major problems with the festival this year, then it will be canceled for all following years. This is a problem for Saiki, our superpowered protagonist, because he likes to use his powers to skip school and make the cultural festival day his own personal vacation. Thus, he has no choice but to make sure everything goes off without a hitch this year.

Image Source: 映画『斉木楠雄のΨ難』公式‏ on Twitter

In the leadup to the festival, we get to see a bit of Saiki’s normal life—mainly through brief vignette flashbacks that serve to introduce each of his wacky friends. We have Nendō, the only person able to sneak up on Saiki because he has no mind to read; Kaitō, a boy who thinks he’s a superpowered teen from a young adult novel; Hairo, a hot-blooded guy who does his best at all things; and Kuboyasu, a transfer student who used to be in a gang but is now trying to live on the straight and narrow.

Lastly, there’s Teruhashi. As the cutest girl in school, she takes great pleasure in taking people’s breath away with her beauty. And as she believes her own hype that she is the “perfect beautiful girl,” she becomes obsessed with Saiki because he is the only one who doesn’t react lovestruck like she expects. He alone knows her true narcissistic nature, after all.

Saiki K’s Teruhashi Is a Perfect Comic, Romantic Foil

Image Source: 映画『斉木楠雄のΨ難』公式‏ on Twitter

During the festival itself, each of these characters has an adventure that threatens to get all future culture festivals canceled—and thus ruin Saiki’s chance at getting future days off. Nendō keeps popping up where he’s not wanted. Kaitō is finally confronted by his evil nemesis: the Dark Reunion. Hairo gets a group to go out on an unscheduled 10 kilometer race through the surrounding town. Rival gang members invade the school looking for Kuboyasu. And Teruhashi keeps trying to cozy up to Saiki and trick him into a romantic encounter.

Of course, more than his friends, the biggest threat to the festival is Saiki himself. As he uses his powers to prevent the various impending disasters, he unintentionally causes more than a few himself—and thus he has to then use his powers again to fix this new turn of events.

Or to put it another way. Expect a lot of superpowered slapstick.

Image Source: 映画『斉木楠雄のΨ難』公式‏ on Twitter

The basic idea behind Saiki K. is that, because of his powers, Saiki himself rarely reacts emotionally to anything. No matter how weird or surprising his friends are he’s never in any danger. Thus his life is largely bland and boring.

This means that Kento Yamazaki, the actor playing Saiki, has to maintain a deadpan straight face for the entirety of the film—even as people rub against him, do numerous pratfalls, and make any number of insane faces. And make no mistake, he does a perfect job of it.

But he’s not the only one who does a ton of acting through facial expressions. When any character is having an internal monologue that Saiki can hear, we are treated to a closeup of their faces as they think and/or scheme. These scenes serve to be equal part hilarious and insightful—especially in the case of Kanna Hashimoto, who does a great job at showing the internal ugliness behind Teruhashi’s facade of perfection.

Another thing that really sells the comedy is the combination of the direction and music. When focused on one of the characters acting over the top or crazy, the music matches their actions—e.g., when Hairo gives a rousing speech about needing to do their best at the culture festival, the music is powerful and rousing. Then, to showcase the over-the-top nature of what’s going on, the camera cuts to Saiki for a reaction shot and the music goes dead silent… only to return as soon as we cut back to Hairo. It’s a great trick that is used constantly for great laughs.

All in all, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. live-action film is a great counterpart to the series. It is full of all the over-the-top supernatural slapstick you’d expect as it combines many different sub stories into a single adventure. If the anime series made you laugh, this film will too.

Image Source: 映画『斉木楠雄のΨ難』公式‏ on Twitter

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. live-action film was released in Japanese theaters on October 21, 2017. There is currently no word on an international release.

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. anime can be seen for free and with English subtitles on FUNimation and Daisuki.

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