Action Comedy

Fantasia Festival Review: ‘Office Royale’ is an Action-Packed Workplace Comedy with a Shōnen Anime Twist

August 19, 2021Ben MK

Working a 9-to-5 office job can be brutal. But no matter how many last-minute deadlines you've had to make or how much administrative red tape and petty office politics you've had to put up with, chances are you've never encountered anything quite as insanely bloody or as cartoonishly violent as what the female office workers in Office Royale must contend with.

26-year-old Naoko Tanaka (Mei Nagano) is your average "office girl" at a company called Mitsufuji. And while there are thousands more like her all across Japan, there's a whole secret society of office lady gangs that are the real iron-fisted rulers of the corporate world. Led by no-nonsense brawlers with such intimidating names as Mad Dog Shiori (Rina Kawaei), Shuri the Demon (Nanao) and Etsuko the Beast (Miyuki Oshima), these factions battle each other for supremacy until only one is left standing. But when a new mid-level employee with a talent for hand-to-hand combat named Ran Hojo (Alice Hirose) shows up one day, her sudden appearance threatens to upset the entire balance of this underground female fight club. Now, it's up to Naoko to restore that balance — but can she do so without revealing the carefully kept secret she's been hiding from her co-workers all this time?

Directed by Kazuaki Seki, what follows is a funny, offbeat and decidedly over-the-top look at the competitive nature of workplace relations, all told with a gender-swapped, shōnen anime twist. Make no mistake, however, you don't necessarily have to be an anime or manga fan, or have even worked in an office environment, to enjoy Office Royale — a healthy appreciation for tongue-in-cheek, action-packed satire will more than suffice.

Office Royale makes its Canadian premiere at the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 42 min.

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