In the early 1970s, Nikkatsu, Japan’s oldest movie studio, launched a line of erotic films, known as “roman pornos,” aimed squarely at the Asian adult marketplace. In advance of Impulse Pictures’ 2011 DVD release of a couple dozen of said films, Nikkatsu Roman Porno Trailer Collection presents a taste of these Japanese sexploitation flicks.
The stylistic diversity of the offerings is readily evident in the 38 trailers assembled here, which collectively run just over an hour. While a lot of the settings, set-ups and characters seem selected from a limited grab-bag (nurses, teachers and schoolgirls figure prominently into the proceedings, unsurprisingly), the visual modes of expression seem to vary wildly — sometimes shot in an expressionistic, color-saturated fashion, and other times a grimy, realistic nature.
Tonally, the movies seem quite different as well. Some of the titles are brutish and unpleasant (Rape Across the Drenched Wasteland… really?), while others are humorous (Zoom Up: Beaver Book Girl and Painful Bliss! A Surprise Twist). Regardless, the English translations included here, under Japanese textual interstitial inserts and overlays, are sometimes questionable, or at least disconcerting at best (a rape is shrugged off with “The moment of darkness passed…”). If there is one thing that is clear, however, it’s that certain kinks and bondage fetish — as well as the rough enforcement of male will — are particularly Asian preoccupations, tied up in subjugation and the anxiety attached to any deviation from more readily fixed gender roles. Oh, and for those wondering, none of this material is hardcore, though it certainly skirts the edges.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Nikkatsu Roman Porno Trailer Collection comes to DVD presented in anamorphic widescreen, with a Japanese language 2.0 mono soundtrack and optional English subtitles. Individual trailer selection is enabled via a main menu collection of chapter stops, or one can play the entire hour-long presentation straight through. In addition to a four-page color insert with a superb overview essay by Behind the Pink Curtain author Jasper Sharp, a full-screen presentation of the half-hour, video-shot short film Ryoko’s Lesbian Flight is included, in which a pair of flight attendants lotion themselves up, and then explore each other’s bodies, only to eventually be interrupted by a guy. The hardcore action, or even any presentation of downstairs genitalia, is pixelated, however. C (Movie) B (Disc)