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Directed by Kazuaki Seki

Cast: Alice Hirose, Mei Nagano, Nanao, Rina Kawaei

Special Jury Mention, Best Debut Film, 2021 Fantasia Film Festival

Gaslight. Gatekeep. Girlboss. In the topsy-turvy workplace comedy OFFICE ROYALE, these words have never rang so true. Wide-eyed Naoko (Mei Nagano) has landed a job in what appears to be the picture perfect peaceful office. Content with flying under the radar, Naoko politely avoids what she soon discovers to be a bloody underground battle royale that has filed the other Office Ladies into warring gangs. The power struggle between these rival factions gets disrupted by the arrival of charismatic and headstrong Ran, who whoops them into a frenzy that drums attention to their company from Office Ladies across the nation. Ran becomes the strongest girlboss of them all.

As perfect counterparts, the peace-loving Naoko finds friendship in the face-pummeling Ran, and the two become an unlikely pair. But Naoko’s seeming naivete gets pushed to its limits, and this newly formed sisterhood gets disrupted as they discover the seedy underworld of corporate competition in a ladies-only fight club. Manga villains come to life in workplace warfare, with a memorable performance by Endo Kenichi and a rambunctious gang of administrators, who push an ordinary working girl to become a reluctant hero. Can BFFs-turned-frenemies find a work/life balance before the final boss battle? Or will “fighting” just be another marketable skill added to their resumes? Diehard shonen fans will get a kick outta this one as a turn of events compels adversaries to come together to fight rival corporations, all vying for the ultimate title of world’s toughest Office Lady.

—Carmela Prudencio

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