Jan 7, 2017

Shōjo tsubaki (Torico, 2016)

The campiest J-film in (my) recent memory, Shōjo tsubaki is the second adaptation of Suehiro Maruo's ero guro manga of the same name (the first one is a notorious anime from 1992). Literally translated as The Camellia Girl, it tells the story of a 14-yo orphan, Midori (played by a 27-yo model, Risa Nakamura, and with a good reason), who is forced to join a freak show where she is humiliated and molested by everyone. The arrival of an enigmatic illusionist, Masamitsu (Shunsuke Kazama), reverses the situation in her favor, but there's something devilish about him and it's not only his horned haircut.
Torico's live-action rendition of Midori's disturbing misadventures seems to be inspired mostly by the works of Mika Ninagawa (Sakuran, Helter Skelter), considering its palette of dazzling colors (and not to mention that both directors share the background in fashion). Even though she (obviously) has less resources than her more prominent colleague, she demonstrates great creativity, particularly in the costume department, which is to be expected from a clothes designer (for Meewee Dinkee brand). Her exuberant, baroquely extravagant visuals are peppered with Carroll-esque surrealism and a few animated sequences which honor the aforementioned anime (painstakingly produced by Hiroshi Harada).

Actually, Torico quotes her predecessor in many scenes, albeit toning down the shock factor and transposing the narrative from Shōwa period to (alternative) present day, while commenting on misogyny in Japan. (Note: This is just an assumption, since I watched the film without the subtitles.) From the pop-art intro credits, through origami camellia and all the way to Midori's dreams coming true, she deliberately emphasizes the artificiality of her perverse, delightfully kitschy fantasy and lets the cast overact their hearts out.

In spite of my not understanding the dialogue and the inconsistency of digital cinematography, I thoroughly enjoyed this eccentric B-movie, so I'll be looking forward to seeing another Torico's cinematic offering.

No comments:

Post a Comment