During the 1970’s while American cult film lovers were frequenting the Grindhouse and drive-in scenes, in Japan, Nikkatsu was making a name for itself with its “Roman Porno” erotic line. Between 1971 and 1989 the studio released over a thousand “Pink Cinema” films, and now thanks to Impulse pictures, those of us in America are finally going to get to see (at least 25 of) them for the first time. Subtitled, chock full of half-naked Asian cuties and filled with all manner of bizarre Japanese fetishism, let us examine this collection in order of release and see if American audiences have a “yen” for this sort of thing?
Another carnal take on the classroom by Nikkatsu and here is the seating chart synopsis of victims/ and offenders. A young student named Midori accuses another student named Daisuke of raping her after her clothes were found the next morning in the school pool. A well-meaning but woefully outmatched teacher named Sakatani encourages Daisuke to remain in school and fight the charges leveled against him. For this Daisuke throws her to the ground but does not rape her as if to proclaim how innocent he is by letting her go. Odd logic indeed especially as in the very next scene Daisuke stops by the school broadcast booth where Midori is working and rapes her while turning the audio on so everyone can hear her female shame (or is it his masculine primal scream?) announcing his outrage and vindication to the world? I suppose it matters not, for in a Pink Cinema film they are usually one and the same.
Of course because Mrs. Sakatani is beautiful, a teacher and woefully naïve (as are the female main characters in these films) you just know that we are going to be seeking more of her and by this I am not talking character exposition either. The film follows her affair with a skeezy Policeman who meets with her in an out of the way cabin shortly after the story suggests she had recently terminated the pregnancy of what could have only been his love child. Their scenes of lovemaking are consensual but so devoid of warmth and human kindness it makes the rapes in this film almost look tender and consensual by contrast.
Meanwhile a disgraced Daisuke has dropped out of school and wanders the streets of the Japanese underground until he is adopted by a strange Yakusa looking street hustler who plays kind of bizarre father figure to him. By night the elderly tattooed man shares his young girlfriend with him sexually, and by day they work his beachside fish stand on a seaside resort town looks like the Japanese version of Coney Island.
Through a chance meeting the dropout student and emotionally starved teacher meet again. Even though by this time in the film it becomes all too clear that while Daisuke never raped Midori (at least not until that incident in the audio booth) he ignores Mrs Sakatani when she tries to encourage him to come back to school to proclaim his innocence. When she persists, he then rapes her as well, as if to show her the gravity of the slander and dishonor it has caused him (even as once again makes it true).
Look, I am going to say it right here, this is an absolute offensive and evil mess as seen through a pair of Western Eyes or by film devotees belonging to any non-Japanese culture where rape is simply not a victimless crime to be tossed onscreen to resolve all conflicts like so many slap fights in a soap opera. But amidst the all the bizarre plot devices and contrivances this is an absolutely beautiful film, even if from only a technical standpoint that has NOTHING to do with the naked scenes or depictions of sexual violence. For the first time in memory the characters in a pink cinema film have distinct emotions, motivations and personalities other than simple victim or aggressor. Moreover there are themes of deep recurrent symbolism involving pet fish that foreshadow the events in the movie and makes deep commentary on the nature of difficult moments if not existence. Finally, the cinematography is far better than we are used to getting in this series as the camera occasionally focuses on symbolic non-sexual objects, such as a close up on a woman’s discarded heel as it is slowly being swept away by the tide or a God’s eye view of a rainstorm during one of the assaults that makes you almost certain it somehow had to be done in CGI (if it wasn’t made in 82).
As much as I liked it, I must concede that there is no way that American cult audiences will ever accept a film where rape is used as a primary element of character development in a serious drama. Also, there was too much screen fogging during the more lurid moments when some artful camera mis-direction or natural foreground obfuscation would have been a more pleasing way to comply with Japanese censorship edicts. Still, despite these misgivings I think this is the second best installment of the thirteen volume series I have seen thus far, second only to EROS SCHOOL: FEELS SO GOOD.
Furthermore, or those of you scoring at home this is the third Female Teacher Pink Cinema film I have reviewed thus far. Other reviews for this pink cinema subseries can be read here and here. While there is obviously no continuity between these various films, devout collectors of “Teachers in Peril” films who can’t afford to buy all installments of this series may appreciate this heads up. Happy Hunting.
Extras include the usual film trailer and a booklet by Jasper Sharp