Naomi Tani discovers she's a rose that hasn't blossomed yet.
It's been a few years since we checked in on Japanese bondage queen Naomi Tani. Well, she returns on this poster for Kurobara shôten, aka Black Rose Ascension. The movie, which is a roman porno—i.e. a Nikkatsu Studios softcore sex flick—concerns a self-absorbed Osaka porn director played by Shin Kishida who loses his star when she refuses to work while pregnant. Simultaneously, over in the subplot, Naomi Tani has an unfilled life doing various things that aren't exactly ethical in the sexual sense, such as rimming an older man for money and having an affair with a married dentist. Kishida targets Tani, seduces her, and films it. She doesn't know she's on camera at first, but realizes it partway through when a gaffer and a camera guy jump out of a closet. If you know this genre you can guess where the movie goes from there. Hint: Hmm... maybe what I was doing before was kind of like porn anyway. Nikkatsu never fails to ponder whether a woman is really just a sex freak who hasn't blossomed yet. We can't say the movie is great, but we'll say this much for it—you'll really believe it's possible to fuck while roller skating. Kurobara shôten premiered in Japan today in 1975.
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.
Fifty shades of Tani.
It's roman porno's runaway mainstream success that keeps us watching the movies. We seek to understand them from the point of view of the millions of Japanese filmgoers that made them box office gold, and we try to do it without being squeamish about the content, which is softcore, yet far beyond the pale by American standards. Made half a decade earlier than the second wave bondage flicks we've been featuring lately, Niizuma Jigoku, aka Newlywed Hell, aka New Wife's Hell stars undisputed bdsm queen Naomi Tani in a hit roman porno made with considerably more artistry than second wave films. It's still the same basic idea though—woman has no idea she's into kinky bondage until forced into it. But a more restrained approach than would be prevalent later elevates the material a bit. It's still weird as hell, but you won't feel permanently filthy after watching it. As a bonus, the amazing Terumi Azuma co-stars. Niizuma Jigoku premiered today in 1975.
The cat is definitely out of the bag.
This cool poster is for the Japanese roman porno flick Bakeneko Toruko furo, aka A Haunted Turkish Bathhouse, a movie you should think of as an off-the-program addition to the website today, as it is not playing at Noir City. Obviously, the poster reveals that this is a ghost cat movie, and the title does too—a bakeneko is a cat that has changed into a yōkai, or supernatural creature. They made plenty of these ghost cat flicks in Japan, including Kaidan nobori ryu, aka Black Cat’s Revenge, which we talked about a while back.
This one stars Naomi Tani, Misa Ohara, Yumiko Tateno, and the luscious Terumi Azuma. Tani is whipped to death, no thanks to her husband, and comes back to haunt her killers as an avenging cat spirit. If you're a cat person, you might be thinking you'd love this. But the thing about these movies is the cats are basically just thrown into shots from off camera by production assistants, or sometimes suspended from wires, and there's no doubt their treatment was not very kind. It's good they have nine lives, because to us it looks like they need all of them to get through these movie shoots.
Below you see two more posters for the same film, alternate versions that are completely different from the one above. All three pieces are visible around the internet, but the red ones have never before been shared at this size or clarity. Watch the movie if you can. You'll find it interesting, especially the bathhouse elements (hint, hint). Whether you can watch it or not, please be kind to cats—they're a little evil in normal form anyway, but as bakeneko they're just plain lethal. Bakeneko Toruko furo premiered in Japan today in 1975.
Woof woof. Arf arf. I must be barking mad.
High priestess of bondage Naomi Tani is at it again in Shôgorô Nishimura’s roman porno Dan Oniroku: Nawa-geshô aka Rope Cosmetology, aka Rope Makeover. Based on yet another Oniroku Dan story, Tani plays Kanako, a frustrated housewife whose best friend puts her together with a bondage artist keen to introduce her to the fine arts of humiliation and subjugation. It’s all pretty basic stuff that he’s into at first. He lets her watch another woman being disciplined. Then he ties her up and gives her intro level treatment. He tickles her. He makes her pee in a bucket. He makes her crawl around his apartment while wearing a leash. Then this happens:
And that’s pretty hard to get past. At least it is for us. Sometimes we encounter pretty weird shit maintaining this website, and this is one of those times. Most assessments of Shôgorô Nishimura’s oeuvre mention that this film was about as far out as he got, and we suppose the world should be thankful for that. Dan Oniroku: Nawa-geshô premiered in Japan today in 1978.
She always gets into the worst binds.
Bondage queen Naomi Tani became one of Nikkatsu's biggest stars, centerpiece of the company's roman porno line of movies during the 1970s. Above are five promo posters from her films during that period. They are, top to bottom, Zankoku: kurobara lynch, aka Cruelty: Black Rose Torture, Kashin no irezumi: nureta tsubo, aka Tattooed Flower Vase, Monzetsu! Donden Gaeshi, aka Painful Bliss! Final Twist, Kurobara fujin, aka Lady Black Rose, and lastly unknown. On that final poster, we checked IMDB, JMDB and every source of Japanese cinema we know but got no hits. The first word in the title is Tani’s name, and while we found a few movies that incorporated her name—along the lines of 1977’s Tie! Naomi Tani—we did not find anything on the poster above. Ain’t that always the way? It’s actually the most interesting of the lot. Anyone with insight feel free to drop us a line. In the meantime you can check out more Tani here, here, and here, and elsewhere in the site if you’re inclined to look.
She’ll be your beast of burden.
Akira Katô’s crime thriller Shinayakana kemonotachi, for which you see the promo poster above, had the interesting English title She-Beasts, Warm Bodies, and was also known as Sensuous Beasts. It stars Mari Tanaka and is noteworthy for being Naomi Tani’s first movie. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to track down a copy so the poster is all you get for now. We do know that it’s a bit of a black comedy, and the plot revolves around embezzlement, drug trafficking, and of course the yakuza. We’ll keep our eyes open for this one and maybe report back. Tanaka and Tani appear in the promo shots below. Shinayakana kemonotachi premiered in Japan today in 1972.
Naomi Tani gets roped into a weird situation.
Above is a poster for Genso fujin ezu, aka Fascination: Portrait of a Lady, aka Fantasy Portrait of a Wife, one of many S&M movies starring Naomi Tani, aka the Queen of Pink. In this one Tani plays Hisako, a bored housewife married to a conservative art professor. Hisako is beset by bizarre sexual daydreams, including one of being captured like a stray dog and stuck in a cage. Her frustrations soon center on Tachiki, a visionary art student her husband has expelled from school for being too modernist. Hisako and Tachiki soon begin meeting, and Tachiki introduces Hisako to a world of bondage and other dubious delights. The husbanddoesn't really understand the extent of his wife’s straying until she doesn’t come home one night. Not entirely her fault, though, as she’s tied up in Tachiki’s flat. In the morning Tachiki is inspired by lingering rope impressions on Hisako’s flesh to attempt something more permanent—he tattoos her entire body with a rope design. Hisako’s husband, you can be sure, is going to be pissed.
That’s all we’ll say about the plot of Genso fujin ezu. The idea of a person’s transformation taking on psychic then physical dimensions is pretty clear, but daydreams of domination and humiliation just don’t resonate for us. Bondage and rope arts occupy an important place in Japanese culture, so maybe that’s simply the default direction for bored cinema wives, the same way American movies from the period often featured women taking a walk on the wild side with hot-rodders or counterculture types. That’s our best guess, anyway. Oniroku Dan is the mind behind the literary genre that birthed these films, and if we’d read any of his books we’d have a better idea exactly why Hisako veers into S&M, but failing that we’ll just take the movie on its own merits. Genso fujin ezu premiered today in 1977.
Oh this old thing? It just symbolizes pain, madness, chaos, that sort of stuff. Now relax and get comfortable.
We’ve had this one laying around for a few years. It’s a Japanese promo poster of Naomi Tani holding—disconcertingly—a demonic mask with extremely sharp horns. But of course, most images of Tani play with the duality of eroticism and danger. Except usually the danger is to her. Don’t know what we mean? Just clickety-click here and here.
Hiroyuki Nakano’s sword opera Samurai Fiction challenges festival audience but ultimately leaves it satisfied.
San Sebastian in general and Cinema Caravan in particular are keeping us busy, but we have time for a quick post, so here we go. Last night we attended a screening of Hiroyuki Nakano’s 1998 adventure/comedy SF: Episode One, also known as Samurai Fiction. It’s a quirky movie, imaginatively shot mostly in black and white, and involves a young samurai on a mission to both avenge a friend’s death and retrieve a priceless sword. He encounters an ex-samurai who tries to teach him the wisdom of non-violence, with limited success. The movie is set in 1689 and looks a bit like Kurosawa’s great period pieces, but subverts that similarity with its humor and modern rock 'n’ roll soundtrack. Since it was in Japanese with English subtitles, the mostly Basque audience was perhaps a bit baffled, but even those with language difficulties could enjoy the film’s visual creativity, and ultimately everyone seemed to enjoy it.
Watching Samurai Fiction got us thinking about our many Japanese posters, and because we actually have access to that stuff wherever we go, we decided to share five of the nicer pieces in our collection. In terms of information on these, time is a little tight to research them carefully, but here’s what we know: poster one—nothing; poster two—Nawa Hada Jigoku: Rope Skin Hell, with Naomi Tani, 1979; poster three—we’re unsure on that one, but that’s definitely Kayoko Honoo in the art; poster four—Kapone no shatei, yamato damashi, aka A Boss with the Samurai Spirit, with Tomisaburô Wakayama, 1971; poster five—nothing. But we'll see if we can find something about that one. See ya soon.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1989—Anti-Feminist Gunman Kills 14
In Montreal, Canada, at the École Polytechnique, a gunman shoots twenty-eight young women with a semi-automatic rifle, killing fourteen. The gunman claimed to be fighting feminism, which he believed had ruined his life. After the killings he turns the gun on himself and commits suicide.
1933—Prohibition Ends in United States
Utah becomes the 36th U.S. state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution, thus establishing the required 75% of states needed to overturn the 18th Amendment which had made the sale of alcohol illegal. But the criminal gangs that had gained power during Prohibition are now firmly established, and maintain an influence that continues unabated for decades.
1945—Flight 19 Vanishes without a Trace
During an overwater navigation training flight from Fort Lauderdale, five U.S. Navy TBM Avenger torpedo-bombers lose radio contact with their base and vanish. The disappearance takes place in what is popularly known as the Bermuda Triangle.
1918—Wilson Goes to Europe
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sails to Europe for the World War I peace talks in Versailles, France, becoming the first U.S. president to travel to Europe while in office.
1921—Arbuckle Manslaughter Trial Ends
In the U.S., a manslaughter trial against actor/director Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle ends with the jury deadlocked as to whether he had killed aspiring actress Virginia Rappe during rape and sodomy. Arbuckle was finally cleared of all wrongdoing after two more trials, but the scandal ruined his career and personal life.
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