Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Glimpse at Japan's Pink Past

I spent most my online time today finishing uploading the Pink Film posters I scanned during my month offline. Then I did some preparation for a video review to be posted at this blog tomorrow night. These old Japanese erotic film posters are really fine works of pop art, and I'm happy to have a hand in introducing these images to the web. Later I will have to introduce the films themselves to IMDb, since most don't have entries. All the posters I uploaded today were scanned from a Japanese book, Generation Sex, which contains reproductions and English translations of Japanese erotic film posters ranging from the late '50s to the early '70s. The films are all from the rarer independent studio releases (i.e., they are not Nikkatsu Roman Pornos). I recommend the book highly for the images and information. My only complaints were that many of the images are only close-ups on parts of the posters, rather than the full poster, and that the films' descriptions do not include release dates... or even years... But that made identifying them more of a fun challenge! I've never seen these posters online, so perhaps my readers here will permit a one-day break from our beautiful, busty, BBW ladies, to look at some of these little gems from three decades of Japanese cinema's glorious erotic past...
Model and Photographer (1958)
First up is a mysterious and intriguing little item from 1958 called Model and Photographer which purports to expose the seedy world of nudie photography. This actually pre-dates the Pink Film era, which officially started in 1962 with the release of Satoru Kobayashi's Flesh Market. Under the leadership of Mitsugu Ôkura in the late 1950s, the old Shintoho studio, which had started in the early '50s as an arthouse outfit, went into exploitation. At the time of their bankruptcy in 1961, they were specializing in sci-fi, crime, ghost, and very tame nudie diver-girl films. These diver-girl films can be thought of as the precursor to all of Japanese film/video pornography: The Pink films in the '60s grew out of them, and the AVs of the '70s grew out of Pink. Indeed, as our post of July 27 shows, the diver-girl remains one of Japanese erotic cinema's stereotypes to this day. The film poster sampled above is not a Shintoho production, but it looks a lot like their work with which it was contemporary. The poster touts eight nude women, and proclaims it to be the "talked-about glamour movie", indicating that it gained some degree of notoriety at the time. Two directors are named: Masaya Nakamura and Haruo Osanai, and the studios involved were Nihon Document Film and Toho Geino. I know nothing about Nakamura or Osanai, and both these directors have only this one film to their credit at JMDb. Curiously, the producers-- Tadashi Ôno and Kiichi Ichikawa-- have higher profiles, both having also produced the 1964 classic, The Woman in the Dunes. Along with the title and poster descriptions, the fact that no cast listing is given further indicates that this was an early erotic documentary.
The Hairy Gun (1968)
Next is a late '60s film from two of Japanese erotic cinema's most interesting characters. It was written and directed by the quirky and eccentric screenwriter, Atsushi Yamatoya-- mastermind behind the psychadelic-Pink cult classic, Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands (1967) and one of the screenwriters on Seijun Suzuki's legendary big studio career-ending Branded to Kill (also 1967). It was produced by "Godfather of Pink", Kôji Wakamatsu, one of the true giants to come out of Pink cinema. Tragically, Wakamatsu was hit and killed by a taxi last year while crossing the street. 76 years old at the time of his death, he was in the midst of a prolific late-career period, making critically-praised mainstream films... This poster tells us this film is in "Part color" format, which was common in 1960s Pink. The budgets on these indie-quickies were too low for full color, so they were filmed mostly in black and white, with certain key scenes (usually the sex scenes) in color. This film, given the phallically-inspired title The Hairy Gun, has three of Pink's leading radicals all in one package. Not only was it written and directed by Yamatoya and produced by Wakamatsu, it also boasts writer/director/actor and Japan Red Army commando Masao Adachi in the cast.
Woman's Body Archipelago Reconstruction (1972)
 Finally, here is a third poster to a film not at IMDb. This one is from another Pink Film pioneer and giant: Shin'ya Yamamoto. Yamamoto is especially known for injecting humor into the previously somewhat dour Pink Film genre. The cleverness in a poster like this is rarely seen in today's erotic film posters. As shown by the Yamatoya/Wakamatsu/Adachi film previously discussed, the Pink Film world of the '60s was a haven for radical Left-wing politics. Indeed, important early Pink-related director Tetsuji Takechi has been all-but-banned from domestic Japanese histories of the Pink Film partly because of his Right-wing leanings... Historically, pornography has been used in Japan as a platform for political/social criticism, and I think the the title of this film, and its poster art and tagline, indicate some self-mockery which is, unfortunately, not as common in the world today as it was in the early '70s. Note that here, the shape of the Japanese archipelago is juxtaposed with the shape of a woman's body, implying equivalence. The tagline ("New experiments in unorthodox means of orgasm!")-- I think-- refers to the new ways of thinking forced on Japanese society in the post-war reconstruction period. These non-native ideas are slightly mocked by implying they are like a young woman seeking a "new way" towards orgasm...

I hope my readers find these occasional little explorations into Japan's fascinating erotic past as interesting as I do!

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