The classes are challenging, but the extracurriculars are really hard.
The high school that looks normal on the surface, but is a nest of sexual perversion underneath. It's a premise Nikkatsu Studios never missed a chance to trundle out for audiences, and here it is again in Kairaku gakuen: Kinjirareta asobi, which is known in English as Pleasure Campus, Secret Games. Yuri Yamashina is a teacher at Tokyo Public High School who has a group of recalcitrant seniors, including the star of this flick, the lovely Ayako Ôta, along with the equally lovely Rie Katihara (left and right on the poster respectively). The plot evolves from teacher-student conflict, to secret chemical formulas, to public hypnosis, with many weird stops between, as befits a roman porno flick.
We can't really describe the bizarro plot, but the feel of the movie can be summed up by one sequence. A disobedient Ôta is restricted to the school's chemistry lab while a group of administrators in a nearby conference room decide whether to expel her. One of the panel slips away on the pretext of using the bathroom, but instead attacks Ôta in the chemlab. Meanwhile, some minutes later, another member of the panel decides he needs to use the bathroom, but instead heads to the chemlab. The previous admin has leapt out the window to avoid being caught, and admin two sees Ôta half naked and continues the assault. A third admin says he needs to use the bathroom, goes to chemlab where admin two has just fled out the window, finds Ôta naked and tied to a table, and continues the assault... and so forth.
All the wrestling and leaping out of windows plays like a Benny Hill sequence on acid, with more spazzing, yelling, and pratfalling than a sane mind can witness. We recognized that this serial sexual assault is supposed to comedic, but the laughs didn't come for us. Possibly that's due to cultural blindness—not being from Japan, the humor doesn't cross over. So for that reason, we'll let a Japanese commenter on Filmarks review this one for us. Translated, he wrote: “If this happens to me, I hate it so much that I want to die, but since it is a movie, I almost laughed to death. That's what absurdity is.”
There you have it. Kairaku gakuen: Kinjirareta asobi is an absurdist comedy based around ideas about sexual desire and authority. We take seriously our efforts to understand the roman porno genre, just as we work to understand all yesteryear's enormously popular genres of international film, from Italian giallo mysteries to Mexican lucha libre actioners, but as far as we're concerned it's time for another break from watching these roman porno flicks. Our stand-in from Japan wrote, in so many words: It's just a movie. We get that, so we'll be back to this genre at some point. Some point months from now, after our heads are clear. Kairaku gakuen: Kinjirareta asobi premiered in Japan today in 1980.
And now for their next trick they'll turn the tide of war.
First off, the cross you see at the bottom of this poster is not a swastika but a much older Japanese symbol. It's usually seen oriented as above, or, rarely, reversed like the Nazis used it, but in all cases has religious, historical, or pop culture meanings. We've talked about it. The poster was made for the period roman porno flick Kunoichi ninpo: Hyakka manji-garami, known as English as Female Ninja Magic: 100 Trampled Flowers. The movie is set in a time of warring clans during the Tokugawa shogunate, which ruled Japan beginning in 1603, and as the title suggests, a female ninja clan uses sexual magic to try and turn the tide of war between the powerful Tsunayoshi shoguns and the Akizuki clan. Working for the shogunate are the Iga and Kouga ninja clans, while aiding the Akizuki are the Fumi, the women of the title.
That's a more elaborate set-up than usual for a roman porno movie, and indeed, this one will require more than the usual level of attention to keep straight. It takes its historical trappings seriously, with a convincing pre-industrial look, elaborate period dress, and a focus on succession by birth. But don't fret, fans of the genre—the movie is weird as hell, as roman pornos must be, and you'll be pleased to know that a virtual who's-who of Nikkatsu Studios stars feature, including Junko Miyashita, Hitomi Kozue, Yuko Katagiri, Kyōko Kanō, Maya Hiromi, and Yuri Yamashina. What exactly is sexual magic? Let's just say there's plenty of vaginal fluid involved, of varying viscosities, used in numerous ways. There's other bizarreness too, including an umbilical cord that strikes like a cobra. We don't think the Tokugawa era actually unfolded this way, but to paraphrase the immortal Wooderson, it'd be a lot cooler if it did. Kunoichi ninpo: Hyakka manji-garami premiered in Japan today in 1974
She's overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, and has no backup plan. Also there's that whole curse thing.
Can a working girl find happiness à la Pretty Woman? That's the eternal question asked by (Maruhi) jorô seme jigoku, aka The Hell-Fated Courtesan. An Edo-era geisha-turned-prostitute played by Rie Nakagawa is believed by superstitious locals to be cursed because some of those who've had sex with her died. Her only sort-of-friend in this dark existence is a perverted artist, and her pimp is of course cruel and untrustworthy. But eventually she meets a puppeteer to whom she offers herself romantically only to be rebuffed. Surprised, she intones, “This is not an ordinary guy.” She's right. He refused her because he thinks he can only be turned on if a woman looks like one of his puppets, but when he finally samples some of that sweet Nakagawa he changes his mind about that and offers to take her with him to Osaka, where her problems and alleged curse will be behind her. Will she go? Will she be allowed to go? Will fate cut her a break? Pertinent questions all.
In 1973 Nikkatsu Studios' roman porno line had not yet jumped the shark, which means (Maruhi) jorô seme jigoku resembles a normal film in most ways. Its plot is basically linear, though it contains one framing segment; its sexual content is perverse, though not pointlessly misogynistic; and its humor generally works. In fact, there are some truly funny moments in this, such as when Nakagawa lets a carp suck her nipples. We won't even bother to describe what direction that scene goes. Later she slices off a dead man's finger and masturbates with it. Afterward she tells the finger that, though its former owner was a scoundrel and a snake, he will now go to heaven. That's some magical pussy. Maybe Nakagawa isn't cursed after all. Maybe she just embodies male insecurities and fears and they punish her as a result. And if that's true, maybe there is a Pretty Woman ending for her. But you never know. One character observes that a woman's heart is unpredictable and terrifying. (Maruhi) jorô seme jigoku tries to prove that adage true. It premiered in Japan today in 1973
Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has warned us to expect a few humps ahead.
A random Japanese poster for you today, a luminous promo for the roman porno flick Kokusai-sen stewardess: Kanno hiko, aka International Stewardess: Erotic Flight. Kumi Taguchi of Tokyo Deep Throat and Yuri Yamashina of Lusty Widow and this Yamaha motorcycle star in a tale that, according to what we read, is partly set in Harlem. That seems to be confirmed by the co-starring role of someone named Addis Abeba, who'll we'll assume is of African descent and whose acting credits consist of only this single movie. We can only imagine Nikkatsu Studios' undoubtedly bizarre take on the most iconic African American burg in the U.S., but try as we might we can't locate this film. Trust us, though, we will never stop looking. Kokusai-sen stewardess: Kanno hiko premiered in Japan today in 1976.
Our boyfriends have no clue our slumber parties involve absolutely zero slumbering.
Above is an amazing photo published in the Japanese pop culture magazine Weekly Playboy in 1972. It's uncaptioned, as you can see. Two of the women pictured are pinku actresses Miki Sugimoto and Yuri Yamashina, next to each other at bottom, looking at you rightside up. We have plenty of material on both of them in the website. We can't identify the other models. Feel free to enlighten us.
Whoever said she was in mourning might need to double check their info.
This is a pretty nice poster, which was made to promote the roman porno film Inzesu mibojin, known in English as Lusty Widow. It starred Rumi Tama, Reika Maki, and our favorite nude motorcycle rider Yuri Yamashina in a story about a woman widowed at twenty-six, which of course makes her fair game for assorted orbiting males. Unsurprisingly, having lost her man she isn't feeling very lusty at all, at least until she finds herself drawn into assorted intrigues and associated sexual kinks, including voyeurism and illicit photos, both of which the poster makes clear. Sadly, we were unable to track the film down, which is an occupational hazard with these things. On the other hand, they nearly always turn up eventually. We'll keep an eye out. Inzesu mibojin premiered in Japan today in 1976.
Nikkatsu pushes the envelope of taste—and social responsibility—with Okasu!
Above, a poster for the roman porno flick Okasu!, which premiered in Japan today in 1976. The title here, in a rare occurrence, translates directly—Rape! Considering that Nikkatsu Studios made hundreds of roman porno movies (short for “romantic porno”), and they were wildly successful at the box office, we take them seriously and seek to understand them. So we watched this and... we don't understand. Starring Natsuko Yashiro, who you may remember from her female diver movies, and co-starring Naomi Tani and Yuri Yamashina, Okasu! is the story of a rape victim who develops an obsession for her attacker and searches the city for him, constantly exposing herself to similar dangers.
To be clear, we make no cultural judgments here—around the same time on the U.S. soap opera General Hospital, Luke raped Laura and became the number one hunk on daytime television. So we're not failing to understand Okasu! from a cultural vantage point, but from a generational vantage point. We don't find non-consensual anything sexy. From our perspective this dubious flick has only two plusses: there's a highly ironic, even grimly comical, ending; and Yashiro masturbates with a walnut, which we never knew was possible. Wanna try it? Follow her lead below. But when you're making your way through vintage Japanese movies give this one a pass.
You only get partial coverage, and that's if you're lucky.
Let it be known—if you cheat on Hitomi Kozue she'll come after you with a samurai sword. At least, that's what happens in the intro of Shin jitsuroku onna kanbetsusho: Rengoku, aka New True Story of a Woman Condemned to Hell. After Kozue slices her cheating man and his mistress, we smash cut to her chained in a prison van headed toward the rest of the movie. Jail time starts with a complimentary cavity search, and from there the amenities continue to disappoint. No pillow mints. No DSL. There's cell service, though, which comes in quite strongly after dark. But in general Kozue finds incarceration to be a bummer. Oh well. These deprivations are nobody's fault but hers—you've gotta keep a level head even when your partner is dicking a local tramp.
Kozue is lonely, but she soon learns that a man can easily be replaced by a piece of polished wood, or a religious figurine, or an inflated condom, or a willing finger or two. If she'd known all those possibilities before she kebabed her boyfriend she might have avoided imprisonment. But maybe not—we learn in flashback that what seemed like a straightforward case of catching her man cheating is more complicated. We won't say more. You'll just have to watch the film, which is a better-than-average women-in-prison entry, with that unique pinku flair, and a special beauty in the lead role, plus Yuri Yamashina in support. Shin jitsuroku onna kanbetsusho: Rengoku premiered in Japan today in 1976.
Below: a nice promo image of Hitomi. Why? Be-Kozue we had it. More from her later.
He likes to have his cake and kill it too.
The roman porno flick Bôkô Kirisaki Jakku was called Assault: Jack the Ripper in English, and that pretty much tells you what happens. Tamaki Katsura stars as a waitress in a dead end job who hits the road seeking thrills. She coerces nerdy Yutaka Hayashi into giving her a ride, and the two later pick up a hitchhiker, who through bizarre circumstances ends up dead. Something about the sight of blood activates a need to repeat the experience, which they do by kidnapping and killing young women, then having sex next to the bodies. The weapon of choice is unusual—it's a cake knife, the kind you might use to spread frosting. We'd have thought a dagger or hunting knife would work better, but cake is symbolic in the film, so a cake knife is a logical choice. While it doesn't look sharp, somehow it goes through flesh like butter. Technique is everything.
Thus armed, the couple's attacks become more brazen, then the man's bloodlust surpasses that of his girlfriend's. He starts killing alone, hoarding the thrills for himself, but each murder leaves him somehow unsatisfied. Like an addict upping the dosage, he has to keep taking greater risks. Can you guess what this leads to? We bet you can if you think about it. We can't recommend the film, at least not wholeheartedly, but we'll admit it's provocative the way it's both bloody and played for laughs. And as we've reported in the past, being sexually aroused by murder is a real thing, so that element was interesting too. And what's more than merely interesting is the promo shot of Katsura we found, which you'll see at bottom. Bôkô Kirisaki Jakku premiered in Japan today in 1976.
She may get pushed around but eventually she always pushes back.
Rashamen Oman: higanbana wa chitta, for which you see he promo here, is known in English as Foreigner’s Mistress Oman: Falling Autumn Flower. The movie starred Sally Mei, aka Sally May, an enigmatic half Anglo half Japanese actress who appeared in a handful of movies and had a short singing career, here playing the character Oman in a sequel to Rashamen Oman: ame no Oranda-zaka (poster here). She'd do one more film in this series called Enzetsu jokyo-den: Oman midarehada, and all of them premiered between March and August of the same year, which shows you how fast Nikkatsu churned these Krispy Kremes out.
The plot of the first movie saw Mei travel from Shanghai to Japan in search of her mother, only to be betrayed by her companion and sold to a brothel, where she becomes a geisha and gambler. Luckily, Mei had picked up some sword skills along the way and put those to good use julienning her captors. The sequel, then, picks up after she's served a prison sentence only to find that her sister is in the clutches of a group of yakuza lowlifes. Mei is up the challenge once again. Starring as her sister, by the way, is Yuri Yamashina, who we've looked at before. Rashamen Oman: higanbana wa chitta premiered in Japan today in 1972. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1964—Mass Student Arrests in U.S.
In California, Police arrest over 800 students at the University of California, Berkeley, following their takeover and sit-in at the administration building in protest at the UC Regents' decision to forbid protests on university property.
1968—U.S. Unemployment Hits Low
Unemployment figures are released revealing that the U.S. unemployment rate has fallen to 3.3 percent, the lowest rate for almost fifteen years. Going forward all the way to the current day, the figure never reaches this low level again.
1954—Joseph McCarthy Disciplined by Senate
In the United States, after standing idly by during years of communist witch hunts in Hollywood and beyond, the U.S. Senate votes 65 to 22 to condemn Joseph McCarthy for conduct bringing the Senate into dishonor and disrepute. The vote ruined McCarthy's career.
1955—Rosa Parks Sparks Bus Boycott
In the U.S., in Montgomery, Alabama, seamstress Rosa Parks refuses to give her bus seat to a white man and is arrested for violating the city's racial segregation laws, an incident which leads to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott resulted in a crippling financial deficit for the Montgomery public transit system, because the city's African-American population were the bulk of the system's ridership.
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