Friday, December 18, 2009

Robo Geisha, Gore Police... and now "Gothic & Lolita Psycho"?

by Chris MaGee

Well, we knew this was coming. We've had everything from Japanese school girls, geisha, ganguro girls, ninja, and of course the Japanese police lampooned in films like "Tokyo Gore Police", "The Machine Girl", "Robo Geisha", etc., etc., etc. So it was only a matter of time that we had a film that capitalized on yet another popular aspect of otaku culture, the goth loli girl.

Yes, Go Ohara, the man who directed “Geisha vs Ninja” and Jyun Nakajima, the producer of "Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl”, are set to begin shooting "Gothic & Lolita Psycho" in Japan as soon as next week. The film starring Rina Akiyama, Ruito Aoyagi, Minami Tsukui, Yurei Yanagi promises to be “a martial arts action, Japanese grotesque art Gothic & Lolita explosion” featuring dolled up like in the photo above.

So after we have these goth loli girls impaling each other with the ruffled umbrellas what are we going to get next? Faux rockabilly dancers who slash peoples' throat with spurs on their blue suede shoes? Obese cannibalistic sumo wrestlers? Calligraphers who dip their brushes in blood? Your guess is as good as mine, but it seems that these gore films tailor made for the North American market are we going to continue mining stereotypical Japanese caricatures to get bums in seats.

Anyway... You can check out more details on "Gothic & Lolita Psycho" over at 24 Frames per Second, the folks who broke this story.


keeperdesign said...

I respectfully suggest that your premise regarding these films is flawed. Directors like Noboru Iguchi don't create crazy films because their American financial backers dictate that they do so; American financial backers give money to directors like Iguchi because they recognize that he and his contemporaries create crazy (and saleable) films. Iguchi-san has been making movies as spastic and deranged as "Machine Girl" for much longer than he's had US distribution companies throwing money at him, and the history of Japanese cinema is (as you no doubt know) peppered with completely original and crazed productions regardless of where the money comes from. While there may be a production company or two that have sprung up specifically to emulate Iguchi-san's style in the wake of "Machine Girl"'s DVD sales success, to unilaterally dismiss all J-splattercore and horror humor as somehow "impure" because of where the funding comes from is unfair at best and irresponsible at worst. US distribution companies want to have relationships wit these Japanese filmmakers because no other filmmakers on earth create visuals as wild, or stories as crazed, as the Japanese. And I promise you, Iguchi & co are happy to have the budget to make their vision they way they intended.
Lots of directors throughout film history have taken their funding from wherever they could find it. Francis Ford Coppola got piles of cash from Italian and South American investors--do you think it had any effect on the content of his films? They invested in his movies because they trusted he'd create content that appealed to them (and the audience)--just like Iguchi-san and his investors. Russian and Chinese firms are greatly invested in dozens of productions in Hollywood, Bollywood and elsewhere--that doesn't mean that all the resulting productions are somehow polluted by foreign elements, it just means that the directors have the money they need to realize their vision.
Iguchi-san recently wrote a long and impassioned blog post about how much he loves commercial horror films, specifically citing Sam Raimi. Like Raimi, Iguchi has peculiar tastes that don't run completely within his native country's norms, and his films tend to find greater success overseas.* It doesn't make his films any less Japanese than Ozu's! David Cronenberg gets much--most!--of his funding from US investors. Does that make him less of a Canadian director, or somehow make his films crass exercises in pandering to American mores?
I fully understand your distaste for these films. They're not for everyone. But to "tsk tsk" them for their US funding and imply that they are somehow artistically mercenary because of it, that's not fair.
Dislike them, by all means! But don't make out that Iguchi-san is somehow a puppet of US schlockmeisters twisting his arm to exploit Japanese iconic culture. He's doing that all by himself!

* That said, the month-long booking "Robogeisha" enjoyed in Shinjuku played to near-full houses every night, and the film is continuing to find a small but fervent audience at select cinemas all over Japan. It recently opened in Nagoya to a crowd of fans dressed like the characters, and they hadn't seen the film yet!

keeperdesign said...

And that cannibalistic sumo idea sounds great!