Friday, December 08, 2006
Friday, December 01, 2006
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Ultra-universe regular, ATG legend, and Rampo enthusiast Akio Jissoji dead at age 69.
He did some great work on Ultraman, Ultra Q, and Silver Kamen, directed the best non-Teruo Ishii Rampo adaptations (several in fact), was a major player in the the Art Theater Guild, and would probably have a bigger following amongst Japanse film fans if anyone (other than Kojiro Abe, of course) knew who the hell he was.
Here's an NHK news report on his death, which features him in his office writing while surrounded by props and toys. At age 69. I hope I'm that lucky.
Posted by Wes at 4:21 PM
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
From the 11/23 HUSTLE MANIA show. The opening minutes give you all the set up you need.
Posted by Wes at 9:57 PM
Friday, April 21, 2006
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Crime Hunter 2 - Bullet of Betrayal (クライムハンタ裏切りの銃弾)
Director - Toshimichi "Shundo" Ohkawa
Year - 1989
Company - Toei
The Crime Hunter series delivers yet another landmark event for the V-cinema history books. Where the original was the first ever V-cinema of all time, this one is the first to have a gaijin "star" in its cast. And who is bestowed with such a great honor, you ask? Well it's the late, great Eric Douglas, beating such luminaries as Chad McQueen and Michael Rooker to the punch by several years. In fact, it wouldn't be until V-World and V-America were unleashed on the video renting population that gaijin actors would again shame themselves in Nippon.
Unlike the last one, this movie starts on an educational note, with a title screen informing us that “Little Tokyo is the residence of Japanese Americans", before kicking off with an exchange in unintelligible English (and one of the guys was white). Then it's not too long before somebody gets shot in the face, and "Crime Hunter" is on his way.
Joker, back to being on the Little Tokyo Metropolitan Police Dept, is cruising the fog-machine sprayed streets of Los Angeles in his old porno-littered squad car when the call comes in. Again, the fine folks at the LTMPD give him a license to kill the perp at first sight. Instead, he just lets out a cry of "Rock N' Roll!" before riddling a sex shop with bullets, and taking the punk in alive. Turns out this skuzzy looking scum-bag may know where Joker’s missing partner Cash (immortalized by Douglas) is hanging.
After being partnered with a ham in a Hawaiian shirt, Joker and his new human shield start their search for the missing cop. A shit load of cigarette smoking and people getting shot later, they get his location. Soon they find Cash lying handcuffed and on a filthy cot in an old warehouse, looking as if he doesn't have a shred of his dignity intact(no acting necessary there). Then an emotional, tough guy dialogue exchange between him and Joker, where they affectionately say “fuck” to each other several times, ends in betrayal (or a Bullet of Betrayal if you will). His partner takes one to the face, and he's sprayed with bullets, and sent flying out a window all thanks to Cash. Of course they all seemed to forget that Joker is bullet proof, and has a thing for avenging his dead partners.
This is when things really kick into high-gear, as we’re engulfed in a plot that revolves heavily around "the stuff". Joker buys lots of really huge, and impressively phallic guns. Macho man Makoto Sawamura, dropping the perm for a fancy set of dread-locks, returns as a thug-for-hire. All while Eric Douglas hangs out in a drain pipe, and apparently believes he's starring in Wall Street. One explosive acting highlight has him, hair slicked back, questioning who he really is. "Who am I? Am I the boss? Am I the detective?" he screams at his confused and English impaired Japanese co-star. Trust me, it's intense stuff that rivals even his best moments in Delta Force 3.
Following the original's Roman Porno-esque rule of having a shootout every ten minutes, this one doesn't skimp on the blood and bullets. Sleazy strip club shootouts, multiple head-shots, and a chick in an evening gown wielding a bazooka. Hell, even a raped whore is thrown in for kicks.
Also, being that they actually shot this one in L.A (rather than Okinawa) there are scenic shots-o-plenty that all seem to end with a group of black guys staring directly into the camera. They even managed to capture a real life gang brawl on film, you know, for extra realism. All this excitement going down in Little Tokyo does beg me to ask one question though. How come whenever I go to Little Tokyo all I get to see is a Seijin Suzuki look-a-like in a Dirty Dancing jacket?
Posted by Wes at 8:31 PM
Monday, February 13, 2006
Antonio Inoki vs Super Vader (Big Van Vader)
This one was Vader's debut in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Watch out for the Go Nagai designed mask he comes out in.
Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid
The original, Ikki Kajiwara created Tiger Mask with the legendary Satoru Sayama donning the fur and bellbottoms.
KENTA vs Kenta Kobashi
This is a great recent match from NOAH, which is apparently where it's at for hardcore puroresu fans nowadays.
Dr. Death Steve Williams vs Toshiaki Kawada
Two legendary tough guys clash in Giant Baba's AJPW (All Japan Pro-Wrestling)
Mask Red and Blue vs Pierrot I and II
Tokusatsu inspired insanity from the HUSTLE promotion
Kiyoshi Tamura vs Tsuyoshi Kohsaka
Shoot-style pro-wrestling in RINGS. This is just one of Tamura and Kohsaka's awesome matches.
Posted by Wes at 7:50 PM
Sunday, February 12, 2006
In 1989 Toei Video launched its V-cinema series; the first ever outlet for straight-to-video distribution in Japan. The launch title for Toei Video's new venture was Crime Hunter. This is its true story.
Crime Hunter was the brain-child of writer, director, gun-fanatic, and soon-to-be prolific V-cinema producer Toshimichi "Shundo" Ohkawa. Previous to Crime Hunter he was a writer on the popular Abunai Deka series. Nowadays, he's probably best known for directing the ultra-bad Riki classic The Yakuza Way, and for producing Atsushi Muroga's V-classic Score. While his record has been spotty over the years, he most definitely deserves a spot in the V-cinema Hall of Fame (or shame) for bringing the world of girls, guns, and a cool pair of shades straight to the Japanese video shelves.
Crime Hunter - Bullet of Anger (クライムハンタ 怒りの銃弾)
The "Little Tokyo Police Department" is cruising the streets. Joker(Masanori Sera) and his partner, a peanut-popping Riki Takeuchi, are chilling in their porno-plastered squad car. Over the radio the dispatcher sends them after a perp, they are instructed to "shoot for the head" if necessary.
At the scene is a bulky Yusaku Matsuda wannabe (Makoto Sawamura) with a big perm and a double-barrel. Joker and Riki take him in without much of a fight, but are jumped on the way out by some guys in clown masks and bowlers. Joker is sprayed down with machinegun fire, big perm runs off, and Riki takes one to the head from a foot-long magnum.
Somehow Joker survives the assault, and after a quick recovery he turns in his badge and dons a Members Only jacket to hunt down the killers. He then hits the streets looking for “big perm“, and is roughing guys up in alleyways, and hopping into his muscle car Dukes of Hazzard style. Soon enough he’s onto some radical right-wing gun smugglers that may be involved, and decides to crash their pajama party in the junkyard.
Joker gets held up by the gun smugglers skin-head friends who show him some fingers in a jar, and lock him in a cage. To escape he does a traditional Chinese Lion Dance and fires twin 44’s out from the lion’s mouth. And no, I’m not making this shit up. Next he tracks down “big perm” and finds him holed up in a warehouse drinking Bud. Turns out they have a common enemy of the clown-mask, bowler wearing variety, and they gear up for the big gundown.
Before that can happen, Yoshio Harada stops by for a cigar smoking cameo and sticks around long enough to shoot some punk in the face. Joker then shows up for the final big gun n' stunt spectacular wearing a Rambo headband and carrying a machinegun the size of a Cadillac. “Big perm” pulls out a headband of his own so they can battle bullet-for-bullet and side-by-side.
It doesn't take too long to figure out that this is one big, sweaty gun porno (and that I had a huge, throbbing erection)! A scene of Joker dismantling and cleaning his gun is intercut with a woman showering, not to mention every weapon gets its own close-up as it pumps out bullets like a cumshot.
Over half of Crime Hunter’s sixty-minutes are taken up by bloody shootouts. With the rest consisting of multiple weapon close-ups, gun cleaning, and people getting punched in the face. Although, at one point they do take a break for a heartfelt moment between Joker and Riki's old sack of peanuts. Of course it doesn't take long before he's using even that to sling a grenade toward some slimeball.
The first and, even after all these years, one of the best. Crime Hunter is pure crack in a cassette tape, and that's all V-cinema needs to be baby.
Posted by Wes at 1:06 AM
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Gigolo Cop: Roppongi and Asakusa Beautiful Boy Club (Jigoro koppu: Roppongi Asakusa Bishounen Kurabu)
Director - Takemitsu Sato
Company - Japan Home Video
Year - 1991
Gaijin crime is infesting Japan. Foreign criminals are using amnesty to slip through the system unscathed. In response, the Japanese government sets up a task-force known as the "Kaishakunin"-- a throwback to Japan's feudal law-enforcement. They are Executioners operating above the law, and above human morality. The leader of this new kill squad is Shimamura, played by former "King of Eros" and "Furyo Bancho" Tatsuo Umemiya.
He decides that before they can begin they have to get into the criminal world. So, to get hot-wired into the underground, Shimamura becomes a gigolo. A gigolo cop with a license to kill, and a team at his disposal. After being taught the finer points of being a "beautiful young man" by an old queen, they open up the Bishounen Club. Shimamura plays the role of their gay gigolo, prepping for his night's work by applying blush and eye-liner.
Soon they are contacted to investigate the bodies of young girls popping up around Tokyo, all which were ruled "accidents" by the police. But they, and a burly cop named Oninhara (Rikiya), know better. As they should. The sleazy Sanei Corporation is auctioning off human "sex dolls" to high-power foreign governments in exchange for weapons, land, and top secret info. These perverted politicians are given carte blanche with their prizes, going as far as killing them to satisfy their urges.
Once Shimamura catches on, Sanei begins to hunt down members of the vigilante crew, littering the streets with corpses. A Full-Metal-Umemiya then summons the troops and loads up his bazooka for a war between gigolo and sex slave ring. This all leads to a warehouse set, grenade launching, samurai sword slinging finale, with machine-gun toting babes, geysers of gore, and knife-throwing mayhem dominating the movie's closing minutes. Do the gigolos prevail? Is the "sex doll" ring taken down? Well, let's just say it all ends in blood and tears, and we wouldn't want it any other way.
Posted by Wes at 1:53 AM
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Pachinko Game Drifter (Pachinko Mujyuku/パチンコ無宿 )
Riki plays pachinko, the end.
This 1995 V-cinema classic has Riki riding around with plushies in a big-rig ala Truck Yaro, and, like the title implies, playing pachinko. Lots of it. It’s opens up with RIki busting some heads and hamming it up following a pachinko game gone bad. After some spastic facial expressions, he teams up with a pachinko parlor owner with a penchant for purple tights (played by frequent Pinky Violence comic relief Akira Ohizumi), and does with he does best. And what he does best is sit in front of some silver balls for long periods of screen time while mugging for the camera.
In between the pachinko playin' he even finds a little time for romance. Well, if you, like me, consider leering and groping romance. In one extra steamy scene Riki even flashes his bare ass for the camera (sadly, a mosaic keeps us from fully taking in his balls and taint). Also, there's some tits. Small ones, but it's the thought that counts.
So get ready for lots of guys sitting around smoking and playing pachinko with the intensity of a prize-fight. Plenty of amazing (read: shitty) video effects (my favorite being Riki's head turning into a pachinko ball). Not to mention political intrigue, drag queens, and Riki with his khaki's tucked into a pair of black high-tops. Just because Riki forgot he starred in this one, doesn’t mean you should forget to watch it. Plus, you know you wanna see his ass.
Posted by Wes at 5:08 PM
Saturday, February 04, 2006
V-cinema action from Junk and Score director Atsushi Muroga.
A dozen screens are blasting some raunchy AV movie. It's a porno shop, lit a sickly green by flourescent lights. Porn and cash are exchanging hands when the cops bust in. The owner runs out into the rain-drenched alley howling like a wolf. Once they catch him, the titles burst onto the screen off a shot of his snarling face. The credits roll to a rip-off of The Terminator score, all while Sho Aikawa smokes in slo-mo.
Our sex shop owner strikes a deal with a horny, rapist cop, played by rat-faced Shingo Tsurami, to infiltrate Sho's gang. He gains their trust after a montage set to bad hip-hop, which concludes with Sho karate chopping a water bottle, and gets in on a deal with Hong Kong coke pushers.
Meanwhile, an iron pumping, raw-egg-smoothie drinking Shun Sugata is pulling the strings, and getting a big rip-off in effect. When Sho pisses him off, the cop rapes the porn shop owner's junkie girlfriend, and all hell breaks loose. Sho and company get dressed up like it's Resevoir Dogs, and a dread-locked, one-eyed Rastafarian gun smuggler (Hitoshi Ozawa) supplies the hard-ware. Two-fisted gunplay and over-the-top displays of brotherhood follow, all making it feel like 1991 again.
Posted by Wes at 11:16 PM
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Sex, Drugs, and Pachinko!
A multi-volume shocking true document!
The final testament of a V-Man!
A life of moldy VHS tapes, scowling faces, and confused video store staffers revealed. No honor, no humanity, just ones man's trek through the V-Cinema ghetto and beyond. Riki and Sho are here, Bunta comes to slum, Hiroki Matsukata is the big boss, and underlord George Kennedy watches from the dark corners of V-America. Neo-Chinpiras, Blue Tigers, Be-Bop Highschools, Jingi(part 37), and one severe case of the Rokudenashi Blues wait in the distance. Will you decide to follow, or will you decide to live.
This is no hope, this is no love, this is V-Cinema.
Posted by Wes at 1:10 AM
Friday, January 27, 2006
I've uploaded Daicon Film's second live-action short, The Return of Ultraman. It was released in 1983, and was written, directed and starred a 23 year old Hideaki Anno.
The title is a reference to Anno’s previous Ultraman Deluxe shorts made when he was a sophmore at the Osaka College of Art. In the second Deluxe movie Ultraman leaves the earth and goes back to space, hence the "Return of Ultraman" (or Kaettekita Ultraman) title.
Also included on the video is a making-of featurette detailing the production’s FX creation.
Posted by Wes at 7:34 PM
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
V-Cinema gangstar Riki Takeuchi freaks out before succumbing to ecstasy over Umachoco ice cream bars. You can view the shocking proof here:
Don't forget to download a desktop while you're at it:
Now I want to get bi-polar over tasty frozen treats.
Up next we have the Daicon Films production of Patriotic Task Force Dai-Nippon (Aikoku Sentai Dai-Nippon), a parody of super sentai shows. Namely SunVulcan, which the opening song takes its tune from. Besides the legendary series of animation shorts, the future Gainax team also made a series of tokusatsu fan films in the early eighties. These were: Kaiketsu Notenki, a Zubat parody starring former Gainax head Yasuhiro Takeda. The Return of Ultraman, which is an Ultraman fan flick directed by and starring Hideaki Anno as Ultraman minus the mask. Last, but not least, is their biggest production, Yamata no Orochi no Gyakushu, which featured SFX by future Gamera FX genius Shinji Higuchi.
You can watch Patriotic Task Force Dai-Nippon in all it's grainy glory here:
Now to top it all off is more from everybody's favorite pelvic pulsator Razor Ramon HG (pictured above with fellow pelvis thruster Naoya Ogawa). This time HG goes to Yahoo Japan's offices looking to be their latest spokesman. Hilarity ensues.
Posted by Wes at 1:37 PM
Monday, January 23, 2006
Loosely based on Alexander Key's The Incredible Tide, Future Boy Conan is the first series directed by Hayao Miyazaki(thought two episodes are helmed by longtime collaborator Isao Takahata). It's also his best work as a director. The series plays out like twenty-five-minute long "best-of" reels of what Miyazaki does, well, best. All the chases, politics, and the hard-on for aeronautics that we've come to expect from him, but without all the bullshit that can drag down his features. The story follows what may be the last boy on earth in the post-nuke future, and the adventure that a young girl named Lana pulls him into.
Last year I planned to write a feature on the show, but it was axed by the magazine at the last minute. This left me with what I'm putting up today, an interview with infamous Japanese journalist Tomo Machiyama. For those who don't know Machiyama is the founder of Eiga HiHo, Japan's best movie magazine, author of several best-sellers, including Otaku no Hon (The Book of Otaku), and he also co-authored Cruising the Anime City with Patrick Macias. He was kind enough to answer some questions for me about Conan, lolicon, and Miyazaki. For more on him you can visit an interview done with the late, great Pulp Magazine here:
And you can check him out at his blog
Or at www.japattack.com
Q. What was the audience's reaction to Captain Dyce's obvious lusting for 11 year old Lana?
A. There was not so much antagonistic reaction. The first reason was that Conan just follows the traditional kind of Quest for the hero. Always the hero has to fight with a father figure to win the bride or the girl. That father figure represents the old system which the young boy has to overcome and take over. The girl represents the prize which is given for the new king of the new world. Joseph Campbell said this is the most basic archetype of heroic mythology in many cultures, the story of Oedipus. The second reason was that Miyazaki and his staff from Toei studio had already made this kind of story before Conan. The first example was Horus, Prince of the Sun, a heroic fantasy based on a European myth. Miyazaki and the Ghibli people made this while they were still at Toei. Horus has to fight against an evil dominating wizard to win the wizard's little sister Hilda, who looks like 12 years old and whom he loves.
The second was Puss In Boots, which was also made by Toei. It was a story about a poor boy who fights against a rich and powerful middle-aged Wizard who wants to marry the young princess that the boy loves. She also looks like 12 years old. Before this modern age, girls were forced to marry right after they had their first menstruation. In the original A PUSS IN BOOTS story, the boy doesn't fight against the wizard, just the cat. But Toei Animation studio, where Miyazaki worked as one of the animators, then changed the story to where the boy has to fight against the wizard by himself, rather than the cat.
So, audiences in Japan already had gotten used to this plot.
Later, you can find the same structure in Miyazaki's Lupin the 3rd, Castle of Cagliostro and Laputa (Castle in the Sky). The heroes fight to save the young girls from dirty old guys who want to have her. So this complex is always in Miyazaki's work. He is always doing the same thing again and again. So it was not so new for us.
Q. Were there any popular anime before Future Boy Conan that had such strong lolicon overtones?
Many! Many many many! I can't count! Tezuka did it. Ishinomori did it. Fujiko Fujio did it. Just see my article about Tezuka's sex anime.
However, regarding Miyazaki, there was the prototype of LanaÂs character. Alissa, a girl introduced in "When The Seventh Bridge Falls", one of the episodes of the original series of Lupin III(1969), which Miyazaki directed. In the episode, she is randomly kidnapped by a criminal mastermind. He used her as a hostage and he forces Lupin, the genius thief, to rob a treasure. In the end, Lupin shoots the villain to save the girl. It was 1969 and it was the first time for us to see a bullet penetrate a man in a very realistic way in prime time anime for children.
This was Miyazaki's first attempt to tell this kind of story all by himself. Alissa was thought of as the prototype for Lana and Castle of Cagliostro. The episode was also very erotic because Alissa is tied up the entire time and tortured by a buzz saw which almost cuts her head. It was like S&M or bondage, but she looks no more than 12 year old or less. So, audiences were given very complicated feelings to work out, like guilt and sadism. We hated the evil old man, but at the same time, we also felt very erotic feelings seeing the poor beautiful girl as a sadistic object.
Q. How popular was Future Boy Conan when it first aired?
A. It was very, very popular. It was the first attempt for NHK to make an original 30 minute animation for prime time. It was very successful. After Conan, Captain Future appeared in the same slot and tanked. Years later, it was the same time slot for Nadia: 7:30 pm. Making it was a big move for NHK.
Q. What kind of influence did the lolicon overtones in
the show have on otaku culture?
Lana, the heroine, became an icon of the lolicon people. Before, people like Tezuka and fujio-fujiko had shown little girls taking showers and baths, but they were doing it unconsciously. No one pointed it out by saying "This is very naughty." While Conan was on the air, Hideo Azuma, who was the first manga-ka that admitted he was lolicon, featured Lana from Conan in his comic, and openly declared his affection for her. Azuma, in his late 30Âs then, was very a popular manga artist and much loved by hard core Otakus. His declaration of love for Lana was a kind of breakthrough for Lolicon people I think. After that, lolicon guys came out of the closet. Then Cagilostro came out. Then Nausicaa began. The female characters in those films are all the same.
Q. Is the conflict between the community run farming country of High Harbor and the money/power obsessed wasteland of Industria representative of Miyazaki's politics?
Yes, it's obvious. Miyazaki has used this situation for his anime again and again. You can find the conflict between materialism and nature in the TV series Heidi of the Alps, on which he worked in 1974. Heidi who is raised in nature in the Swiss Alps suffers the urban life in the big city of Frankfurt. In Nausica, war is held between the industrial kingdom Tolmekia and the nature loving NausicaÂs people. In MONONOKE HIME, there is a conflict between the industrial guild Tatara and the guardians of wildlife.
Posted by Wes at 8:27 PM
Friday, January 20, 2006
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Will & Grace, Queer as Folk, the U.S has seen its fair share of gay themed entertainment, but they've never really gotten Hard. Hard Gay that is.
But who is this pelvic thrusting sensation? Masaki Sumitani, a comic who hit it big playing a hard line gay activist and helper of the people named Razor Ramon Hard Gay (or HG for short) on TBS's Saturday night comedy program Daibakuten. The shtick has Sumitani hitting the streets in leather bondage gear performing acts of yonaoshi (social improvement) while thrusting his hips and yelling “Whoo!” at fleeing bystanders.
For the part Sumitani bought his clothes at the gay fashion shop “VFTQ”, and did research in Doyama-cho, a popular spot for homosexuals in Osaka(although a friend recently told me all that you’ll find there are pasty old Brits wandering the streets like Homo-Frankensteins).
As a result of his appearances on Daibakuten he’s seen toys featuring his likeness, books containing his popular phrases, a pro-wrestling gig, and his first single.
Yeah, a single. A cover of Saijo Hideki's "Young Man"(which is a cover of the Village People’s "YMCA"). You can take that in here:
I personally like the DJ pumping up with the turntable.
Ok, I think we've gone too far for now. This much Hard Gay activity can't be healthy for the mind. But there is still much to cover, toys, his history, pro-wrestling, and why the Japanese latched onto his act in the first place. All this and more to cum in the Hard Gay Chronicles: Part 2.
Posted by Wes at 8:26 PM