roman poruno revival (Eurospace, Nikkatsu)

M Arnold maiku at
Thu Mar 11 17:25:48 EST 2010

Hello everyone -

anne mcknight wrote:
 > I wonder if anyone in or around Tokyo might have been at the recent
 > screenings at Eurospace (mid-February), where Nikkatsu's new "line" of
 > roman poruno films was debuted in mid-February.

I was very excited to hear about this new Roman Porno program from a 
friend and amateur ero eizo researcher at the beginning of the year, and 
I was thrilled to attend a screening of Danchizuma on Feb. 19 that 
included a short pre-screening discussion with director Nakahara Shun 
(of Sakura no sono fame), Roman Porno actress Shirakawa Kazuko (who 
starred in the original film from 1971 and had a short role in one scene 
of the remake, or "return" as the promotional materials refer to it), 
and film researcher/Pink critic Kiridoshi Risaku.

There was no room to move in the crowded lobby before the event started, 
and the seats were mostly full when the discussion began at 9 p.m. As 
usual for non-specialty theater screenings of adult films in Tokyo, 
there were a couple of rows in the back of the venue reserved for women 
only, but a significant number of female viewers were also scattered 
throughout the general seats in the mostly male audience.

A brief observation about these "women only" sections. I've spoken with 
several Pink staff and cast recently who believe the lack of a "safe" 
theatrical viewing environment for female customers is one of the 
reasons Pink Film is in such swift decline today. (Without trying to 
pass judgment on the extracurricular activities of consenting Pink 
audiences, I don't think Pink theaters are particularly "safe" for male 
viewers either, but I'll save my comments on that situation for another 
time.) The back row of seats was reserved for women only at the Ginza 
Shine Patosu theater too, where I went to see the opening event for the 
new Shin-Toho adaptation of Dan Oniroku's Doreibune (Slave Ship) last 
weekend. More on that film below.

If I remember correctly, there was a whole section of women only seats 
at the old Shibuya location of Eurospace when the re-censored version of 
Oshima's Ai no koriida played in 2000. Incidentally, I did not see any 
womens' seats when the same version of Oshima's film played at the 
National Film Center for the Oshima retrospective in January of this 
year (also to a full house). I've never seen segregated seating at Pink 
specialty theaters anywhere in Tokyo, even at a recent afternoon opening 
event for Ikejima Yutaka's newest feature (a mediocre film starring the 
wonderful actress Sasaki Mayuko) at the Ueno Okura Pink theater in Ueno, 
which did have several female fans in the audience. I think other list 
members have also mentioned the occasional women only Pink screenings 
that occasionally take place in Tokyo art cinemas.

But back to Danchizuma. The pre-screening talk was the most interesting 
part of the night, full of anecdotes about Nakahara's early work in 
Roman Porno and Shirakawa's experiences as the first (?) Roman Porno 
star. Shirakawa somewhat reluctantly praised the new version of the 
Danchizuma film--everything but the lead actress's voice, that is. "She 
can't beat my vocal abilities," Shirakawa said of Takao Shoko in the new 
version. The veteran adult film actress talked about her own extensive 
training as she visited love hotels in the 1970s and held an empty glass 
to the walls to research the sound of female moaning in preparation for 
her performance.

The conversation also addressed the perceived advantage of watching 
adult movies in theaters instead of at home. Both Shirakawa and Nakahara 
emphasized the difficulty of watching porno videos at home. You never 
know who's going to walk in unexpectedly and spoil the experience, they 
said. Shirakawa even admitted that she covers up her shelf of Roman 
Porno DVDs at home when her grandchildren come to visit.

Common sense (and many comments from other directors I've spoken with) 
would seem to point to the opposite--that the privacy of home viewing 
was one nail in the coffin that VHS built for public Japanese adult 
theaters in the 1980s. But I was impressed that the guests tried to put 
such emphasis on the specificity of theatrical viewing... especially 
since these two Roman Porno Returns features are playing on Sky Perfect 
(satellite broadcast?) at the same time that they're being screened at 

Kiridoshi asked the two guests to make one final statement at the end of 
the discussion, and they concluded the talk with the complaint that men 
today are just too wimpy. According to Shirakawa, what women really want 
is macho guys who can physically take control in relationships and get 
what they want from sex. The implication was that watching more porno 
movies (in theaters like Eurospace?) will make today's wimpy men more 
genki and willing to please (themselves??) sexually. I wonder about that 
equation... Regardless, despite the effort to screen erotic cinema in an 
alternative, more neutral venue that is safe for supposedly vulnerable 
female viewers, the discussion seemed to overlook the reality of female 
spectators in the audience that evening.

At any rate, the movie was something of a disappointment. I haven't seen 
the original version in several years so I can't make a clear 
comparison, but the acting was not compelling, the digital video camera 
work was hit-and-miss, the audio was inconsistent (shifting between 
synch sound and dubbing at odd points in the dialogue) and the 
characters' motives left me scratching my head. The theater was silent 
when the film ended.

The karami (sex scenes) were especially unexciting. Aside from a few 
shots in the climactic sequence--when the housewife of the title and her 
water filter salesman sexfriend dress up in diapers, cover each other 
with baby powder, masturbate, and screw each other with baby toys, 
rattlers, beer-filled milk bottles, etc.--most of the simulated sex 
scenes were far more conservative and technically limited than the bulk 
of the films I've seen in Pink theaters over the last several months. I 
was planning to brave the crowds of Shibuya again to watch the second 
film in the series (as Anne McKnight mentioned, a remake of Ushiro kara 
mae kara, a personal Roman Porno favorite of mine that has an 
unforgettably poppy theme song), but given the quality of the first one, 
I think I'll continue to spend my time watching lower budget sex films 
in Pink theaters instead.

Above I mentioned a new Shin-Toho film based on author Dan Oniroku's 
story "Dorebune." Doreisen (the kanji is the same but apparently the 
reading is different for the film title) is something of a Pink Film 
taisaku, directed by Kaneda Satoshi, shot on 35mm (one scene shot on 
digital video with part synch sound) with a colorful cast--Suwa Taro, 
Tomoda Maki, Naha Takashi, Kawase Yota, Nakamitsu Seiji, and several 
other familiar faces whose names I can't remember at the moment--and a 
slightly higher budget than most current Pink features. Doreisen is 
being promoted as the "intai kinen eiga sakuhin" for the female lead, 
famed adult film and video actress Aizome Kyoko. Aizome starred in the 
1980s remake of Hakujitsumu, reputedly the first Japanese adult 
theatrical film to include hard core sex scenes. Doreisen is Aizome's 
"retirement" feature in the sense that this is supposedly the last film 
she is going to appear in nude.

The producers, staff, and cast have put a lot of work into this one, and 
if any of you are in the area and are interested in erotic cinema, I 
recommend catching Doreisen in the theater while you can. (It will tour 
around the country's Pink specialty theaters after it finishes its run 
at Shine Patosu.) As a soft core porno it's quite a bit harder than the 
Roman Porno remake I described, but as a film it is much more satisfying.

I don't have the address for the Doreisen home page, but I believe there 
is a link on the general Shin-Toho page.

In other Pink Film news, yesterday I learned that Grissom Gang, a tiny 
independent theater and bar near the Yomiuri rando mae station, is going 
to put on a retrospective screening of four of Shitenno director Sano 
Kazuhiro's Pink features over two days in late April (two on the 24th 
and two on the 25th, I believe). A participant in independent film, 
adult video, and Pink, and widely praised as one of the Four Devil 
auteurs of Pink Film in the early 1990s, Sano is something of an outcast 
actor/director/screenwriter within Pink circles today. It is extremely 
hard to see his films. Only a couple have been released on video, and 
prints of his movies virtually never screen in theaters now. I'll send 
details for the Grissom Gang screening when I find the link.

Michael Arnold

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