The lady is a tramp, and the director is a scamp.
Junko Mabuki is back on Pulp Intl., as you see on this poster for the roman porno movie Dan Oniroku OL nawa dorei, known in English as Office Lady Rope Slave. It premiered in Japan today in 1981, and basically, Junko plays a straight-laced nine-to-fiver who gets involved with a pair of bondage fetishists. These types of films were, of course, her specialty, and she once again gives viewers everything they'd become accustomed to seeing. But we're less interested in the plot of the movie than the reaction at Japan's censorship board Eiga Rinri Kikō. Adherence to its restrictions was ostensibly voluntary on the part of film studios, but the body had real enforcement power. Dan Oniroku OL nawa dorei must have shaken the place to its foundations.
Let's set the scene. One of the censors has shown up at the Eiga Rinri Kikō office for an emergency meeting with the board chief. He and the other members of the body are proud of themselves for their work, which basically just hews to Japanese obscenity standards by forbidding shots of sex organs and pubic hair. But they never really thought it out from the perspective of directors determined to skirt the edges, which suddenly is happening with increasing frequency. Now at least one censor is in a tizzy. He'd be even more agitated if he knew digital technology would make roman porno films globally available, and thus decades later raise uncomfortable questions about Japanese culture and misogyny, but at this point he has no clue about that.
Censor: I'm beginning to think our censorship regime has backfired. I just screened Dan Oniroku OL nawa dorei and that fucker Katushiko shows dripping semen.
Chief: We didn't ban that?
Censor: No. We overlooked it.
Chief: Well, what's a little semen?
Censor: It's dripping from Mabuki Junko's mouth. He also shows vaginal juices, vaginal blood, and strongly implies that Mabuki-kun gets her clitoris clothes-pinned.
Chief: Hmm... that does sound provocative.
Censor: I watched it twice just to be sure of my eyes. It's depraved. Additionally, there's all the usual bondage, some bizarre insertions, an enema, oral sex both heterosexual and lesbian...
Chief: All this without violating a single one of our rules?
Censor: Nothing is actually shown. It seems quite revealing, though, because, well, Mabuki-kun is a very good actress. Great boobs too.
Chief: Agreed. Mabuki-kun has excellent boobs.
Censor: But in general, it feels like these roman porno directors are ridiculing our censorship standards. There's even a moment—I swear—when I felt like the actors looked directly at me and sneered.
Chief: Now you're being paranoid. Regarding the standards, we could change them, make them more restrictive, but it's hell keeping Nikkatsu and the other studios in line already. Any alteration now may cause serious problems.
Censor: *sigh* But the semen...
Chief: What's a little semen? So, that screener is VHS?
Censor: Betamax. It's a better format. Soon everything will be Betamax. I have it with me.
Chief: I better check it out—just to confirm your findings. Leave it by the Beta player over there, and close the door on your way out. Also, tell my secretary I'm not to be disturbed for ninety minutes.
Okay, a scornful look for the censorship board on one... two... and now! At first I thought this was a citrus reamer, but now I'm not sure. How the hell do you expect me to flush this way? I'll help him. I've been hiding in the shower the whole time. I have to take a short break. There's an office pool on my chair. We'll all have what she's having!
The makers of Female Teacher: Rope Hell needed to learn a lesson or two.
Based on a bdsm novel written by the acclaimed Oniroku Dan, Onna kyôshi nawa jigoku, aka Female Teacher: Rope Hell, is yet another Japanese exploration of the pleasures, pains, and limits of sexual obsession and bondage. Frankly, this one is a bit tedious. There’s a razor thin line between thoughtful and dangerous when dealing with this kind of material. When Japanese films, in particular, end up on the wrong side of that line, you really have a mess on your hands. We understand, yes, that bad men aren’t always punished in real life. But this isn’t real life. It's just a movie, and punishment is key. In fact, for us it’s the entire point. It’s the only thing that makes these films watchable. But in this case, the abusive male ties up the two objects of his obsession and is tormenting them when one of his candles sets an accidental fire. He and the bound women burn to death. His obsession destroyed them all. That’s the end. Roll credits. Hope we didn’t ruin it for you.
The fixation Japanese film has with sexual abuse is curious. It often occurs for pretty straightforward narrative reasons—rape, or perhaps the murder of husbands and children, or often all three, are the triggers that transform women into terrifying revenants. The mostly thirty-something writers and directors who conceived pinku plots were taking swipes at Japan’s patriarchal social structure by first explicitly revealing a sexist status quo, then allowing feminine power to demolish it. Or so it seems to us. In that way pinku does not differ from blaxploitation. In those, it’s a racist status quo that is revealed and demolished. However revenge movies represent only a slice of the Japanese whole. Many films in the roman porno sub-genre feature degradation without revenge, in which case we think it needs to be very carefully done to avoid endorsing such behavior. Major fail on that account here. All respect to Oniroku Dan, but excesses such as a forced enema and subsequent sloppy evacuation are not things we can get behind, so to speak. Onna kyôshi nawa jigoku premiered in Japan today in 1981.