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What is it with women and bad boys on motorcycles — including college boys with pretensions to being bad? A conundrum of my youth. Yes, I understood the appeal of a Marlon Brando or James Dean with a big thrumming machine between his legs, but why did the women I knew prefer riding on a Honda with a spotty-faced dork to sharing existential insights with me? I should, I realize now, have bought a Honda, even the 50cc variety.

Based on a manga by Taku Tsumugi serialized in girls’ magazine “Bessatsu Margaret” in 1986 and ’87, Takahiro Miki’s “Hot Road” gives the same basic answers to this review’s opening question found in “The Wild One” and “Rebel Without a Cause” (though Dean’s preferred mode of transport in that film is a fast car, not a bike). That is, the guy at the center of the drama, Hiroshi Haruyama (Hiromi Tosaka), is hot-looking and a bit of an outlaw, but less of a punk than his fellow members of the Nights — a gang that cruises the roads of Shonan Beach, near Tokyo, in the bubble-era 1980s.

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