The First Wave and the Reboot of Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno Films at Nippon Connection Film Festival 2017

Nippon Connection Logo

The Nippon Connection Film Festival takes place from May 23 to 28, 2017 and it will be held in Frankfurt am Main. The organisers released details of the 100+ short and feature length films that will be screened and there are many top titles that audiences can see to get a perfect snapshot of the myriad of stories and talents that the Japanese film industry is producing. There are a whole host of premieres and these will be shown in the presence of many directors and actors who will introduce and talk about their work to the audience. 

This post deals with NIPPON RETRO which is a special section of Nippon Connection which presents nine films by those the directors Noboru Tanaka and Tatsumi Kumashiro. On May 26, at 15:00., the film academic Jasper Sharp, author of Behind the Pink Curtain: The Complete History of Japanese Sex Cinema,  will give a lecture on “Nikkatsu Roman Porno and Japanese Erotic Cinema” and the director Akihiko Shiota will talk about some of the titles.

The First Wave and the Reboot of Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno films

The Roman Porno series was launched in 1971 by the film studio Nikkatsu and the label remained active until 1988. Thousands of glossy sexploitation films were released as Nikkatsu battled the increasing popularity of television which was threatening the old studio system. It is said that these sexy films saved Nikkatsu.

The studio used its considerable resources and professional staff to offer stylish and sexy stories that were better in quality than the average pink film. Nikkatsu gave directors a budget and tight shooting schedules of about a week, and freedom to make a film about what they want so long as they came with plenty of sexy softcore scenes. A myriad of stories and styles were executed and some of these films have gone down as classics. Many of the films star Junko Miyashita, a woman who went on to be regarded as a great actress and “Queen of Roman Porno.” For her on-screen efforts, she won many awards. There is also Renji Ishibashi, an actor who came from the stage and specialised in playing psychologically unhinged characters.

For the 45th anniversary of that genre, the Nippon Connection Film Festival presents two instalments of the recent “Roman Porno Reboot Project” as German premieres and there will be classics screened alongside them.

Wet Woman in the Wind   Wet Woman in the Wind Film Poster

風に濡れた女 Kaze ni nureta onna

Running Time: 78 mins.

Director:  Akihiko Shiota

Writer: Akihiko Shiota (Screenplay),

Starring: Tasuku Nagaoka, Yuki Mamiya, Ryushin Tei, Takahiro Kato,

Website IMDB

This one was at the Locarno Film Festival where it collected reviews like this one that paint this as an entertaining film to watch! Here’s my review.

Synopsis: Kosuke Takasuke (Tasuku Nagaoka) is a former playwright who has fled Tokyo to live a quiet life in the country after becoming romantically burnt out. His wish for a quiet life is soon interrupted when he is targeted for sex by Shiori (Yuki Mamiya) and a theatre troupe decamp at his place…

Dawn of the Felines   dawn-of-the-felines-film-poster

牝猫たちMesuneko Tachi

Running Time: 84 mins.

Director:  Kazuya Shiraishi

Writer: Kazuya Shiraishi (Screenplay),

Starring: Juri Ihata, Satsuki Maue, Michie, Takuma Otoo, Tomohiro Kaku, Hideaki Murata,

Website IMDB

Having lived in Ikebukuro, I recognise some of the locations shown in the images and the trailer so it’s pretty exciting. The director, Kazuya Shiraishi worked on The Devil’s Path and Twisted Justice. Here’s my review.

Synopsis: Masako, Yui, and Rie are three prostitutes who service all sorts of people from hikikomori to widowers. Through their eyes we see a variety of men from Tokyo and how prostitution has changed from the first film to this with the impact of the internet in what turns into character studies of the women.

Night of the Felines   %e7%89%9d%e7%8c%ab%e3%81%9f%e3%81%a1%e3%81%ae%e5%a4%9c-film-cover

牝猫たちの夜 「Mesunekotachi no yoru

Running Time: 112 mins.

Director:  Noboru Tanaka

Writer: Akira Nakano (Screenplay),

Starring: Tomoko Katsura, Ken Yoshizawa, Hidemi Hara, Keiko Maki, Akemi Yamaguchi, Tatsuya Hamaguchi,

IMDB

Synopsis: The sex lives of a variety of people, from yakuza to salarymen, in Tokyo are seen through the eyes of three sex workers in a bathhouse who experience fleeting relationships and different emotions.

Ecstasy of the Black Rose (A.K.A. Black Rose Ascension)   Kurobara Shoten Film Poster

黒薔薇昇天 「Kurobara Shoten

Running Time: 72 mins.

Director: Tatsumi Kumashiro

Writer: Akio Ido, Tatsumi Kumashiro (Screenplay), Giichi Fujimoto (Original Novel)

Starring: Naomi Tani, Shin Kishida, Meika Seri, Hajime Tanimoto, Akira Takahashi,

IMDB

This is a satire on pink films with plenty of behind-the-scenes sequences and talking to generate comedy.

Synopsis: Juzo is a pink film director and has recently lost the leading actress from his film after she became pregnant. Desperate for a replacement he becomes obsessed with finding a woman whose moaning he captured secretly at a dentist’s office to star in the film instead. He soon comes across Naomi Tani and shooting resumes on the film but not as he expected…

Following Desire (A.K.A. Sayuri Ichijo: Wet Lust)   Ichijo's Wet Lust Film Poster

一条さゆり 濡れた欲情 「Ichijo Sayuri: Nureta yokujo

Running Time: 70 mins.

Director: Tatsumi Kumashiro

Writer: Tatsumi Kumashiro (Screenplay),

Starring: Sayuri Ichijo, Hiroko Isayama, Kazuko Shirakawa, Go Awazu, Akira Takahashi, Moeko Ezawa, Shoichi Ozawa,

IMDB

This film stars famous real-life stripper Sayuri Ichijo who appears as herself in this fictional account of her daily life. It is considered one of the best films in the Roman Porno series and in 1999 Japanese critics voted it one of the 100 best Japanese films of the 20th century.

Synopsis:  The story involves Sayuri who is the top act at the club in Osaka. Her greatness brings her a legion of fans and plenty of rivals, especially a younger stripper named Harumi who goes to extreme lengths to win over the crowds. She begins performing increasingly outrageous acts on stage which brings the equally increasingly harsh attention of the police and also two guys, her lover Daikichi and her pimp Isamu…

A Woman Called Abe Sada                A Woman Called Abe Sada Film Poster

Japanese Title: 実録阿部定  「Jitsuroku Abe Sada

Running Time: 76 mins.

Director: Noboru Tanaka

Writer: Akio Ido (Screenplay),

Starring: Junko Miyashita, Hideaki Ezumi, Nagatoshi Sakamoto, Yoshi Kitsudam

IMDB

A Woman Called Abe Sada is based on the infamous story of a real woman named Abe Sada that took place in 1936. The case is so well-known it has been turned into film multiple times, the most famous being Nagisa Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses (1976). Here’s my review of Tanaka’s film.

A Woman Called Abe Sada Gaze into the Future(Miyashita)

Synopsis: Abe Sada (Junko Miyashita) is a geisha who has been locked in a passionate affair with and Kichi, the owner of a hotel she works in. They have spent a month travelling between machiai (teahouses) where they stay for a few days of sex and drink while geisha sing. Sada is deeply in love with Kichi and her love is so profound it will lead to an astoundingly deadly and infamous ending that will be remembered for generations…

Watcher in the Attic       Watcher in the Attic Film Poster

屋根裏の散歩者   Yaneura no Sanposha

Release Date: February 08th, 1975

Running Time: 76 mins.

Director: Noboru Tanaka

Writer: Akio Ido (Screenplay), Edogawa Rampo (Original Story)

Starring: Junko Miyashita, Renji Ishibashi, Hiroshi Cho, Tokuko Watanabe, Koji Yashiro,

IMDB

Watcher in the Attic is based on a famous story by Edogawa Rampo and incorporates elements from his other stories. It is the middle entry in Noboru Tanaka’s “Showa Era Trilogy”, which includes A Woman Called Sada Abe (1975) and Beauty’s Exotic Dance: Torture! (1977).

Synopsis: Somewhere in Tokyo is a cheap boarding house run by a man named Goda. He has a hobby: he loves to roam through the attic and spy on people through peepholes in their ceilings, savouring various steamy encounters. One day, he observes a prostitute murder one of her clients and he feels that he has found his soulmate…

 

Street of Joy   Street of Joy Film Poster

赤線玉の井 ぬけられますAkasen Tamanoi: Nukeraremasu

Running Time: 78 mins.

Director: Tatsumi Kumashiro

Writer: Tatsumi Kumashiro (Screenplay), Ikko Shimizu (Original Novel)

Starring: Junko Miyashita, Keizo Kanie, Naomi Oka, Meika Seri, Aoi Nakajima,

IMDB

Synopsis: It is the day before the abolition of licensed brothels in 1958 and a group of prostitutes in Kofuku, a brothel in the Tamanoi district of Tokyo, go to work for the last time. One amongst their number, Naoko, attempts to break the record of 26 customers in one day set by Shigeko, a prostitute who is past her prime. There is also Shimako who has a useuless gambler for a boyfriend who she keeps giving money and there is Kimiko, a former prostitute who is visiting because she wants to. This film focusses on telling the stories of these women without judging or romanticising them.

The World of Geisha Film Image

Twisted Path of Love   Lovers Are Wet Film Poster

恋人たちは濡れたKoibitotachi wa nureta

Running Time: 76 mins.

Director: Tatsumi Kumashiro

Writer: Tatsumi Kumashiro, Koji Kamoda (Screenplay),

Starring: Rie Nakagawa, Tetsu Oe, Moeko Ezawa, Koichi Hori, Senro So,

IMDB

This film, along with The World of Geisha, critiques censorship through the use of the tools that censors’ use purposely to ridicule the practice. Kumashiro purposefully scratched the film to cover up genitals in certain scenes and created a ridiculous look which actually draws attention to what the scratches should be hiding.

Synopsis: A young man named Katsu returns to the small coastal town he grew up in after years of wandering around Japan. Despite it being his hometown, he constantly denies his identity and starts to cause trouble. It goes from starting an affair with his boss and spying on a couple having sex to attempting to rape a young woman.

The Woman with Red Hair   Woman with Red Hair DVD Case

赫い髪の女Akai Kami no Onna

Running Time: 73 mins.

Director: Tatsumi Kumashiro

Writer: Haruhiko Arai (Screenplay), Kenji Nakagami (Original Novel).

Starring: Junko Miyashita, Renji Ishibashi, Ako, Moeko Ezawa, Noboru Mitani, Miyako Yamaguchi, Hatsuo Yamaya, Kai Ato, Akira Takahashi,

IMDB

This film is often regarded as Kumashiro’s best work. It’s described as “a bleak drama garnered many awards,” by the folks at Nippon Connection. Here’s the intro of the film:

Synopsis: Kozo and Takao are rough construction living at the bottom of society. After raping their boss’s daughter she gets pregnant and asks Takao to marry her but Kozo meets a mysterious red-haired woman on the road and starts a relationship with her. They spend their days experimenting in erotic acts in his shabby flat but she refuses to give her name. Takao takes an interest in her which leads to some conflict…

The World of Geisha   The World of Geisha Film Poster

四畳半襖の裏張り Yojohan fusuma no urabari

Running Time: 72 mins.

Director: Tatsumi Kumashiro

Writer: Tatsumi Kumashiro (Screenplay), Kafu Nagai (Original Novel),

Starring: Junko Miyashita, Eimei Esumi, Go Awazu, Moeko Ezawa, Naomi Oka, Meika Seri, Hatuo Yamaya,

IMDB

Synopsis: The year is 1918 and the world is reeling from the chaos of the First World War and, in Japan, riots over the inflationary price of rice, and the military expedition to Siberia in 1918 following the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia. Despite this chaos, a man named Shinsuke and six other people spend their days in a geisha house, seemingly safely cosseted from the social upheaval of the outside world in the arms of geisha who have been reduced to little more than prostitutes.

Venues

The events and screenings will take place at the following locations:

Künstlerhaus Mousonturm

Theater Willy Praml in der Naxoshalle

Mal Seh’n Kino

German Film Museum

Die Käs

Ausstellungsraum Eulengasse

Atelierfrankfurt

The festival’s website gives more information on locations and there’s the Google Maps service which is super useful in finding your way around town.

For more, go to the festival website: www.NipponConnection.com.

The World of Geisha Film Image 2

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