Information

This article was written By Kate Taylor-Jones on 13 Jul 2017, and is filed under Reviews.

Current post is tagged

, , , , , ,



About Kate Taylor-Jones

Kate Taylor-Jones is Senior Lecturer in East Asian Studies in the School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield. Whilst her academic work explores various topics including the cinema of colonial Japan and girlhood in East Asian cinema, her guilty pleasure is any film that promises to give her advice on how to survive the apocalypse.

Anti-Porno (Japan, 2016) [JAPAN CUTS 2017]

Anti-Porno-2

With any Sono Sion film you expect to get something unusual. With his previous films including his ‘hate’ trilogy of Love Exposure (2008), Cold Fish (2010) and Guilty of Romance (2011), alongside anarchic cult outputs such as Suicide Club (2001) and Tokyo Tribe (2014), you can predictably expect a lively mixture of violence, sexuality and politics. With this in mind, the opening of Anti-Porno does not disappoint. We enter a vibrant yellow and red room to find the half naked Kyoko (Ami Tomite) musing over her life and career. Haunted by her piano-playing dead sister, we learn Kyoko is an award winning writer and artist, who passionately defines herself as ‘a whore’. When her assistant Noriko (Mariko Tsutsui) arrives we see a sado-machochistic relationship in full swing and the scene culminates in Noriko’s rape at the hands of a visiting group of female reporters (one is conveniently sporting a rainbow colored strap-on dildo as part of her elaborate outfit). As Kyoko runs about the apartment articulating her artistic desires and inspirations we suddenly we hear a male voice loudly shout ‘cut’ and the whole scene is revealed to be a porn film shoot. Quickly the tables turn and now it is Kyoko’s turn to be humiliated and bullied by the older and more experienced porn actress Noriko.

As Kyoko’s life descends into a mixture of over-sexed fantasy and contemporary crisis, Anti-Porno evaluate the social structures that sees young girls punished and shamed for their sexual desires whilst the whole adult entertainment industry promotes and lauds sex in all its forms. We see the young Kyoko talk to her parents about her anxieties and they quickly tell their daughter’s to avoid sexual desire since she will end up damaged by it whilst happily admitting their own excessive sexual desire for each other. This sense of hypocrisy is found throughout the film as Kyoko struggles to find her place in the porn industry whilst musing on her desire to become part of the very industry that is treating her so badly.

Anti-Porno was funded and released by Nikkatsu as part of their 100th Anniversary. Nikkatsu was of course notable for their tremendously successful foray into the soft porn market in the 1970s and 1980s. Their Roman Porno or Pink film studio subsection dominated the cinemas in this period and, despite the obvious need to include numerous sex scenes, the films showed a tremendous sense of creativity and film artistry. Launching the careers of directors such as Kumashiro Tatsumi and Kurahara Koreyoshi and stars like Tani Naomi and Takakura Miki, the Roman Porn genre sustained the Nikkatsu studio over several difficult financial decades (for an in-depth study on this see Jasper Sharp’s Behind the Pink Curtain). In an attempt to re-launch, or at least pay homage to this popular genre, Nikkatsu hired five directors to each make a new roman porn vision for the modern age. Whilst originally designed to be circulated via online pay-per-view channels, three of the films, Yukisada Isao’s Aroused by Gymnopedies, Akihiko Shiota’s Wet Woman in the Wind and Anti-Porno have all been touring the festival circuits since 2016 to generally positive reviews and a tremendous amount of audience interest.

anti

The original Roman Porn films appealed to audiences since, alongside the endless sex scenes, political, cultural and artistic criticism could also feature. The new reboots also contain this mixture of critical cultural analysis and rampant eroticism. In the case of Anti-Porno we see a clear political agenda. Anti-Porno is perhaps less of a conversation and more of a manifesto. It is made clear that the female condition is Japan is sorely lacking with a clear end summary of “ Men’s world is shit, Men’s dream and shit, Porn is shit’. This belief that the male world offers the female protagonist nothing but humiliation and disgrace is highlighted in a series of set pieces that, although not subtle, certainly keep the audience watching. We see a young school girl enthusiastically strip off in front of large group of male film producers and directors and tell them she desires to be a porn actress; a family meal becomes one of the most awkward on cameras as the family frankly discuss genitalia and the fathers desire to endlessness screw the mother (“oh now I love that pussy”); the living lizard trapped in a whisky bottle watches the various scenes unfold as the female characters seek to negotiate the interplay between sex and power and we have a book of pop-up butterfly’s come alive and fly off only to become trapped on the (glass) ceiling.

Anti-Porno is certainly not Sono’s strongest feature. Indeed, I would argue that the topic of the complex and negative relations that surround female sexuality is addressed in a more nuanced fashion in Guilty of Romance but Anti-Porno is still narratively engaging and visually interesting. As a reboot it serves well to serve up the audience the anarchic nature of the original Roman Porn films but as befits 2016/17, with a decidedly feminist twist on the side.

Anti-Porno will is showing as part of JAPAN CUTS 2017 on Saturday July 22 at 10:30pm at Japan Society. Tickets can be purchased from the Japan Society website.

Related posts:

Tuya’s Marriage (China, 2006)
Another (Japan, 2012)
SPL 2: A Time for Consequences (China/Hong Kong, 2015) [TIFF 2015]

Leave a Reply