Modern Pulp Jan 23 2023
SCENES FROM AN OFFICE
The lady is a tramp, and the director is a scamp.

Junko Mabuki is back on Pulp Intl., as you see on this poster for the roman porno movie Dan Oniroku OL nawa dorei, known in English as Office Lady Rope Slave. It premiered in Japan today in 1981, and basically, Junko plays a straight-laced nine-to-fiver who gets involved with a pair of bondage fetishists. These types of films were, of course, her specialty, and she once again gives viewers everything they'd become accustomed to seeing. But we're less interested in the plot of the movie than the reaction at Japan's censorship board Eiga Rinri Kikō. Adherence to its restrictions was ostensibly voluntary on the part of film studios, but the body had real enforcement power. Dan Oniroku OL nawa dorei must have shaken the place to its foundations.

Let's set the scene. One of the censors has shown up at the Eiga Rinri Kikō office for an emergency meeting with the board chief. He and the other members of the body are proud of themselves for their work, which basically just hews to Japanese obscenity standards by forbidding shots of sex organs and pubic hair. But they never really thought it out from the perspective of directors determined to skirt the edges, which suddenly is happening with increasing frequency. Now at least one censor is in a tizzy. He'd be even more agitated if he knew digital technology would make roman porno films globally available, and thus decades later raise uncomfortable questions about Japanese culture and misogyny, but at this point he has no clue about that.

Censor: I'm beginning to think our censorship regime has backfired. I just screened Dan Oniroku OL nawa dorei and that fucker Katushiko shows dripping semen.

Chief: We didn't ban that?

Censor: No. We overlooked it.

Chief: Well, what's a little semen?

Censor: It's dripping from Mabuki Junko's mouth. He also shows vaginal juices, vaginal blood, and strongly implies that Mabuki-kun gets her clitoris clothes-pinned.

Chief: Hmm... that does sound provocative.

Censor: I watched it twice just to be sure of my eyes. It's depraved. Additionally, there's all the usual bondage, some bizarre insertions, an enema, oral sex both heterosexual and lesbian...

Chief: All this without violating a single one of our rules?

Censor: Nothing is actually shown. It seems quite revealing, though, because, well, Mabuki-kun is a very good actress. Great boobs too.

Chief: Agreed. Mabuki-kun has excellent boobs.

Censor: But in general, it feels like these roman porno directors are ridiculing our censorship standards. There's even a moment—I swear—when I felt like the actors looked directly at me and sneered.

Chief: Now you're being paranoid. Regarding the standards, we could change them, make them more restrictive, but it's hell keeping Nikkatsu and the other studios in line already. Any alteration now may cause serious problems.

Censor: *sigh* But the semen...

Chief: What's a little semen? So, that screener is VHS?

Censor: Betamax. It's a better format. Soon everything will be Betamax. I have it with me.

Chief: I better check it out—just to confirm your findings. Leave it by the Beta player over there, and close the door on your way out. Also, tell my secretary I'm not to be disturbed for ninety minutes.

Okay, a scornful look for the censorship board on one... two... and now!

At first I thought this was a citrus reamer, but now I'm not sure.

How the hell do you expect me to flush this way?

I'll help him. I've been hiding in the shower the whole time.

I have to take a short break. There's an office pool on my chair.

We'll all have what she's having!

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Vintage Pulp Dec 28 2022
WET CONDITIONS
Slippery pavement ahead. High accident risk. Proceed in low gear.


Above is a poster for Sex rider: Nureta highway, or alternatively Sex Rider: Wet Highway, starring Mari Tanaka as a woman about to be married who succumbs to a case of cold feet and flees her impending nuptials. Her escape gets off to a bad start when she hits a guy with her car. He's not seriously hurt, but seeing a chance to possibly profit, pretends to be gravely injured. Tanaka, no doctor she, mistakes his fake unconsciousness for death and decides to dispose of the body. Reality gets a little bent from that point, as the film descends into a dreamlike state and we poor confused viewers aren't actually sure if the guy is dead. In any case, Tanaka dumps the body in a lake, but is seen doing it by a nearby hunter, and is sexually assaulted by this witness. At that point the dead/not dead man reappears to defend her, claiming, “I'm the ghost of the guy you hit.” Okay.

That's all we'll do on the plot. We want to note that Nikkatsu Studios, undeniably, had an obsession with rape. Their movies are very against the grain nowadays (and were back then too, we suspect, or at least hope), but we think there's value in looking at them objectively. Modern art is always a momentary endpoint and has to be understood with its evolution in mind. That's why we don't judge these sometimes disturbing films too harshly. The 1970s were a time of cinematic exploration and it was coupled with a new sexual freedom wherein merely to shock with nudity was usually considered a nudge toward more liberation. As we understand it, many feminists back then were pro-nudity. It was a flip-off to a patriarchy that had stifled women for centuries.

But when VHS and the porn explosion came along the winds shifted. Billions were made selling women's bodies and women made virtually nothing. Digital tech, which arrived to stick nudity and sex in the faces of people who hadn't even asked to see it, was the final straw. Today, many people see any female nudity as exploitative, and rail against any depiction of violence against women as implicit endorsement of the same. It's understandable. We all have our own red lines. Everybody's upsettable. Even the people who claim to be hard-as-nails free expression absolutists. Don't believe it? Tell one of them you think belief in a god is childish, or you're tired of veneration of the armed forces, and see how that goes. Everyone is upsettable.

Japan was a more patriarchal society than many leading up to the roman porno period, so the push toward sexualization was quite strong there. Though cinematic censorship against frontal nudity and sex acts was firm, such prohibitions merely made Japanese filmmakers creative. It's incredible how shocking a roman porno movie can be without showing a wisp of pubic hair. The rape obsession is just one example. There was also a focus on bodily functions, submission, and more. Despite those shocks, we feel like roman porno films differ only in number—rather than content—from what was being produced in the West during the same period. In the U.S., France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, et al, the 1970 to 1980 timeframe was likewise characterized by an exploration of themes that today are considered taboo.

We love foreign films, and upon exploring Japanese cinema, we progressed from post-war dramas, to samurai and martial arts epics, to counterculture pinky violence films, and thence to roman porno. Ultimately, poster art is one of the linchpins of our site, and roman porno films have great posters, which is the main reason we talk about them so much. We could just share the posters and stop there, but that usually feels inadequate for people who take film as seriously as we (and hopefully you) do. So we watch the movies, but sometimes wonder if we've learned all we can from the genre and maybe should call it quits and move on. But for now we'll keep exploring films such as Sex rider: Nureta highway. In the end, we have to give it credit—at least it tried to be different. But it also should have tried to be better. It premiered in Japan today in 1971.
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Femmes Fatales Dec 21 2022
CAN'T BE TOPPED
For that matter she can barely be bottomed.


Japanese actress Izumi Shima strikes a nice seaside pose in a 1978 issue of the men's magazine Weekly Playboy. In text we've cropped out, the image mentions two of her upcoming movies—Kyoshi mejika, aka Teacher Deer, and Danchizuma: Futari dake no yoru, aka Apartment Wife: Night by Ourselves, and gives a mailing address for fans to write “love letters” to her at Nikkatsu Studios in Tokyo. The mail must have arrived by the cartload. We have more Shima shots from this session that we'll share later. 

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Vintage Pulp Dec 18 2022
SCHLOCK THERAPY
Had a horrible trauma? Leading roman porno filmmakers say another one should fix you right up.


This flowery promo poster was made for the roman porno flick Kashin no sasoi, aka Call of the Pistil, or sometimes Temptation of the Pistil, which premiered in Japan today in 1971. The movie opens with a cool credit sequence, which you can see in the screenshots below. After that's done, you get a story about a reporter played by Keiko Maki who's traumatized by a sexual assault and whose doctor decides—this is so typical of roman porno cinema—that only by reenacting the event can she be cured.

Her older brother and boyfriend take charge of setting up these scenarios, and the experimental treatments backfire. Big shock. Later they learn that there's more to Maki's mental state than suspected, and that it has to do with her previous investigations and a conspiracy dealing with the U.S. military, and specifically with black GIs. Therefore—again, so typical—brother and boyfriend find a black GI (Peter Golden in a thankless role, his sole film appearance ever) to attack Maki.
 
Of course, as a roman porno—i.e "romantic" porno—there's no sex or frontal nudity shown during any of this, but it's still disturbing. All this supposed therapy is basically the equivalent of screaming, “BOO!” at someone who's previously suffered a terrible fright. If we make the movie sound a bit dumb, well, it really is. But it's certainly well shot, as all these roman pornos are, but even good production values and decent performances can't put this tale across. It's just too mean-spirited to work. “It was all a bad dream,” Maki's boyfriend says to her in the end. If only life really worked that way.
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Vintage Pulp Nov 3 2022
NAUGHTY AND NISE
They don't make virgins like they used to.


When Nikkatsu Studios attempted comedy, it may have been uproarious for audiences of the 1970s, but to us it's usually about on the same level as a Pauly Shore movie. But Joshidaisei: Nise shojo, known in English as College Girls: Fake Virgins, is, we have to admit, actually a bit amusing in parts. Or maybe it was just our mood at the time. We aren't going to watch it again to test the theory. When it comes to Nikkatsu, because its films are capable of being so shocking, when you get something pleasant you take your profits and don't look back.

Basically, what you get here is Kenji Simamura as a habitual molester who runs a real estate company. He meets Masumi Jun, Reiko Maki, and Natsuko Kurumi when he feels up Maki on a train, and is stunned when she snaps a pair of cuffs on his roaming hands. She isn't a cop. She just has them around because gropers are apparently a problem on Japanese trains of that time. From this auspicious encounter Sinamuraends up hiring the girls to pose as virgins for three unsuspecting squares who own vast tracts of land he covets. Virginity is—at least as posited by the movie—what all men want. The three land-rich marks are, of course, unattractive klutzes, and not very bright besides, but for all that, it's obvious Simamura's grand scheme won't come off as planned.

The humor in this film is on a pretty basic level, but as we said, there are a few good moments. How can you not be amused when, after that groping on the train, the girls make Simamura buy them lunch—while still handcuffed to Maki? But most of the comedy is lame. Luckily, the movie has its beautiful leads to compensate. Since Jun and Maki star on the poster, we're having them star in the promo images below. Joshidaisei: Nise shojo premiered in Japan today in 1973.
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Modern Pulp Aug 25 2022
VULVIC SYMBOLS AND PHALLIC SYMBOLS
When is a flower not a flower and a snake not a snake? In Japanese cinema.


Above you see a poster for the Nikkatsu Studios roman porno movie Hana to hebi: Jigoku-hen, known in English as Flower and Snake: Sketch of Hell. In this genre, any mention or sight of a flower is liable to be symbolic. Some call them vulvic symbols, some yonic symbols, but in either case something phallic is usually about to rear its ugly head. The movie starred Kaori Asô and Mami Fujimura, and it was second in a Flower and Snake franchise that eventually numbered eight entries, with this one premiering in Japan today in 1985. That puts it outside our vintage purview, since for our purposes we define modern as anything from 1980 and after, but we had to show you the poster art. How could we not? This amazing promo was painted by famed bondage artist Kaname Ozuma, whose work you can see with an image search. Japanese film studios were very interested in bondage, and Japanese audiences must have been too, because many roman porno films with bdsm themes did well at the box office.

Much of the interest in the subject derived from literature, particularly the works of Oniroku Dan, who wrote the source novel for this film. His books were behind about three-dozen roman porno productions. While we don't get these explorations of humiliation and bondage, we understand that every culture has its particulars. For example, if you go on Japanese Wikipedia, celebrities' biographies often contain their blood types. On the other hand, if you go on U.S. Wikipedia, celebrities' biographies often contain their political allegiances. Objectively, both types of information are completely pointless, yet they suggest—interestingly—what obsesses each culture.

What we're saying is that since we're not Japanese, we can't offer much insight into the roman porno wave that swept Japan. We can do the when, where, who, and how of it—but not the why. But we like the posters, the films are usually incredibly well shot, and the actresses are generally stunning, so we watch the movies and tell you whether we liked them. You're probably wondering if we watched Jigoku-hen. We did, and it's what we expected—longform bondage and torture, softcore style, with little shown, but plenty implied. While it stars Asô and the amazing Fujimura, we don't recommend it unless you're okay with plenty of tears and pee. Neither of those are our bag, and if they're yours, maybe talk to someone. Below, Fujimura is happy after washing off the stain of having starred in such a mean and pointless film, while Asô calls home from vacation and tells her family she's recovering fine.
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Vintage Pulp Aug 20 2022
HELL OF A WOMAN
She's just a hunka hunka burning love.


Hijinks at a girls school was a standard trope for Japanese filmmakers, so at the sight of the first school uniform in Yumeno Kyûsaku no shôjo jigoku you'll know what to expect. Known in English as Yumeno Kyusaku's Girl Hell, and Raging Hell Fires, this one, which premiered in Japan today in 1977, falls into the sub-category: upstanding-schoolmaster-who's-not-what-he-seems. It's an adaptation of Kyusaku Yumeno's novel Shojo Jigoku, and features Asami Ogawa as a school misfit and Yûko Asuka as a rich girl, who both learn that the principal Masakazu Kuwayama is a rapey old pervert, and decide to take revenge on him. Without getting too deeply into his misdeeds, we can assure you the man deserves to be punished. For that matter, Ogawa's father is a strange bird too. He and the principal know each other better than their rigidly formal attitudes suggest. After a tragedy strikes, the principal becomes convinced he's being haunted thanks to a curse having to do with a chunk of incinerated brain. How did the movie get all the way to brain briquettes? It's better if you don't know in advance. Overall Yumeno Kyûsaku no shôjo jigoku is interesting. Ogawa in particular gives a very game performance. Is the movie recommendable? Perhaps not quite. But there are worse expenditures of ninety minutes.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 11 2022
THE FIRST OF JUN
Sometimes you can't even give it away.


This poster was made for the Japanese roman porno flick Kanjirundesu, known in English as I Am Aroused and I Can Feel It, and it stars the lovely Jun Izumi, making her film debut. She plays a beautiful young virgin who's fearful of sex. Her friend Panko is already sexually active, but Jun—who's learning how to be a seamstress or tailor at a local vocational school, a fact that causes us to assume she's at least eighteen—is strictly hands off. We can sympathize. We were hands off at eighteen too, though most assuredly not by choice.

When Jun catches her brother Chin masturbating to her, she decides to facilitate the relief of his tensions by asking the always eager Panko to have sex with him. From there the movie evolves into a sort of softcore coming-of-age comedy, with the usual crossed signals and sexual failures. The whole thing has a juvenile feel to it, and no wonder—it's based on Daihachi Izumi's youth sleaze novel Jun-chan. If you're looking for the film's western analog, think Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Sex Drive. We mean in terms of mood, not plot. Kanjirundesu has more nudity, lesbian undertones, and far more premature ejaculation.

Does Jun finally find someone to be the first entry on her ledger? Well, it wouldn't be a softcore movie if she didn't. A little face-sitting—someone else's face, not hers—gets her started down the road to pleasure. That may sound weird, but actually the best thing about this movie is that it's from Nikkatsu Studios but doesn't get too crazy. There's some peeing, though. Whaddaya gonna do? If you've read our other write-ups of Nikkatsu's output you know how far beyond the pale those folks could venture, so a little urine is acceptable. Kanjirundesu is dumb but worth a watch. It premiered in Japan today in 1976.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 19 2022
YOGISHA BARE
These sisters do everything together—including men.


This unusual poster was made to promote the Nikkatsu Studios roman porno flick Yogisha no Onna, starring Mari Tanaka, one of hardest working women on Nikkatsu's roster. She made eighteen films from 1971 to ’73, streaking like a comet across the sexploitation firmament. In Yogisha no Onna she stars as an obviously disturbed woman living with her sister Keiko Tsuzuki in a big, Western style house with their invalid father. The sisters have a love-hate relationship. The love: they share baths. The hate: they share a man. The latter occurs after their father finds Tsuzuki what he thinks is a suitable fiancée, jealousy results, and Tanaka decides that what's good for the sis is good for the sibling. Where does it all lead? If you want the answer you'll have to find out for yourself. We'll just say that as a somewhat early film from the roman porno cycle, Yogisha no Onna is neither unbearably weird nor unconscionably misogynistic, though it's not exactly a portrait of normal social adjustment either. It's possible serious fans of the genre will find the movie too tame, but personally, considering where some of the subsequent roman pornos went, tame was just fine with us. Yogisha no Onna premiered in Japan today in 1972.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 4 2022
THE GREATEST OF EASE
You'll really believe a girl boss can fly.


Above: an alternate poster for Document porno: Shin sukeban, which is a roman porno flick from Nikkatsu Studios that in English was called Semi Documentary: Truly High School Girl Boss. It premiered in Japan today in 1973. The poster is worth sharing mainly because it features a different—and more modest—martial arts kick than on the tateken promo we showed you before. What do we mean by more modest? Look here and find out. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 06
1958—Plane Crash Kills 8 Man U Players
British European Airways Flight 609 crashes attempting to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport in Munich, West Germany. On board the plane is the Manchester United football team, along with a number of supporters and journalists. 20 of the 44 people on board die in the crash.
February 05
1919—United Artists Is Launched
Actors Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, along with director D.W. Griffith, launch United Artists. Each holds a twenty percent stake, with the remaining percentage held by lawyer William Gibbs McAdoo. The company struggles for years, with Griffith soon dropping out, but eventually more partners are brought in and UA becomes a Hollywood powerhouse.
1958—U.S. Loses H-Bomb
A 7,600 pound nuclear weapon that comes to be known as the Tybee Bomb is lost by the U.S. Air Force off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, near Tybee Island. The bomb was jettisoned to save the aircrew during a practice exercise after the B-47 bomber carrying it collided in midair with an F-86 fighter plane. Following several unsuccessful searches, the bomb was presumed lost, and remains so today.
February 04
1906—NYPD Begins Use of Fingerprint ID
NYPD Deputy Commissioner Joseph A. Faurot begins using French police officer Alphonse Bertillon's fingerprint system to identify suspected criminals. The use of prints for contractual endorsement (as opposed to signatures) had begun in India thirty years earlier, and print usage for police work had been adopted in India, France, Argentina and other countries by 1900, but NYPD usage represented the beginning of complete acceptance of the process in America. To date, of the billions of fingerprints taken, no two have ever been found to be identical.
1974—Patty Hearst Is Kidnapped
In Berkeley, California, an organization calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnaps heiress Patty Hearst. The next time Hearst is seen is in a San Francisco bank, helping to rob it with a machine gun. When she is finally captured her lawyer F. Lee Bailey argues that she had been brainwashed into committing the crime, but she is convicted of bank robbery and sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, a term which is later commuted.
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