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 re-release and see if American audiences have a “yen” for this sort of thing?
Beyond I LOVE IT FROM BEHIND'S cheesy, suggestive title, what we have here is an endearing little sex romp: a rare, soft entry from Nikkatsu that tickles the viewer’s funny bone, instead of tormenting our libidos with an ever-changing visual tornado of sexuality and violence, for it seems the Japanese typically draw few distinctions between the two, at least when it comes to their Pink Cinema.
While most women who appear as main characters in these films have an abhorrent past or a certainly an interesting, if not disgusting, immediate future, Mimei, the film’s protagonist, is just a simple girl with a dream. Borrowing a move from famed groupie Cynthia Plaster’s playbook, she makes it her private obsession to make penis prints from 100 of her lovers before her arranged marriage. It’s kind of weird, admittedly, but I am just thankful that this tale wasn’t a male main character collecting trophies from his lovers, because judging by the past male protagonists in the series, you just know that some of their keepsakes would likely be dripping more than ink.
In a completely unrelated sub plot, Mimei is joined (not in THAT way) by her two lesbian friends Masumi and Rei; two fringe characters that pass the time by seducing poor strange men into scenarios of bondage and threesomes with the promise of sex before anally violating them with a big red vibrator. Again, I suppose I should just be thankful that it’s only female protagonists doing the raping, because when it comes to Roman Porno, these softer scenes of sexual savagery are not only surprisingly funny, but actually show us something we haven’t seen before, which is important as novelty is usually the first casualty in any series of unrelated but thematically linked films from a single publisher by the time we reach Volume 9.
As for Mimei, she is just about to complete her one hundredth and final addition to her “penis print” collection when she meets a man of some sexual renown of his own. He doesn’t seem to care in the least about her hobby, and, in fact, will only allow her to take a penis print if she can make him “finish”. The film’s greatest moments were actually the moments where these two “predators” meet, then jockey for position and dominance through every word, deed, and onscreen sex scene.I really could have used much more of this as, despite the fact their motivations for making marathon love with each other are steeped in ultimate selfishness, it’s actually it is almost romantic in its way (even when there is a counter at the bottom of the screen which indicates they have been “at it like animals” for over 50 hours).
As with all the Nikkatsu Roman pornos, the ugly onscreen blur of Japanese censorship is back again and this film has three flavors of it; obstruction, mosaic, and even a few frames being removed from the film in their entirety every now and then. Purist that I am, I don’t mind natural “blocking” of obscene elements in a film by objects in the foreground, but all other forms of “editing” where onscreen content is sloppily obscured in post-production really takes me out “of the moment”. Much like all of the other volumes in this series, I honestly doubt there is a more explicit cut of this film available anywhere in the world, yet this particular film was really hacked to bits when things got hot and heavy, which is unfortunate as it had a sense of happiness to it I’d not seen before in this series. The edits seemed more unfortunate than usual because the sex, (while not based on romantic love), actually meant something positive in this one and was integral to the plot, unlike in many previous volumes where it was used primarily as a weapon if not a base inducement to get Asian women to scream as many times as possible by whatever means in the rough hour that all of these things usually run.
This would be the film I would use to introduce that special woman in your life to Pink Cinema as it is essentially a screwed up love story with empowered female characters who seduce and conquer every man they meet, even if much of it does border on not being consensual, caring, or kind. That may sound bad out of context, but, when compared to what goes on in EROS SCHOOL : FEELS SO GOOD , this is almost like the Japanese version of THREE’S COMPANY, and more a delight than an offense to liberated viewers of either sex.
Still, the censorship is so constant and choppy for this film as compared to others in the series that it looks as though it were edited with a Samurai Sword. As a red blooded man who has sat through and written about some fifteen hours of this series, I can’t help but think that this one left me “taking it from behind” and contrary to what the title might suggest, I didn’t love that.
As for extras, Impulse presents us with the original theatrical trailer and, once again, the ever-present liner notes by Jasper Sharp to help this make more sense than probably sounds possible.