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December 2007 Archives

Alot of what you read on SaruDama deals with Japanese notions of religion or superstition, particularly in terms of what you would call the "supernatural". This is probably due to the fact that my years in Japan were permeated with the realization (and sense) that the entire island-Nation is blanketed with a palpable, ancient spirituality. No matter where I went, from the heart of Tokyo to snowy Tohoku, I found shrines, weather-worn idols, holy places and ancient markers.

Much of what you see on SaruDama actually stems from my own exploration and fascination of very real facets of daily Japanese superstition. A prominent clergy from the Asian community in Chicago once smilingly told me that via SaruDama I had become an "evangelist" of the Japanese occult. I think that's a bit too simplistic, but I understand how it might appear to some to be true.

But there is much more to the picture here than merely meets the eye. Lest you think I am romanticizing things or merely seeing what I wish to see, let me share with you the following.


By popular demand...

More Kaji Meiko lyrics!

After reviewing the very cool Kaji Meiko CD, which, by the way, is both highly addictive and soothing in that sexy kimono-clad, sword-wielding, gonna-cut-your-heart-out-and-leave-you-bleeding sort of way, I have received many requests to translate her lyrics.

Here, I have translated Kaji's Shura no Hana (Flower of Carnage). This song, like Urami Bashi, can be heard in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.


By popular demand...

After reviewing the very cool Kaji Meiko CD, which, by the way, is both highly addictive and soothing in that sexy kimono-clad, sword-wielding, gonna-cut-your-heart-out-and-leave-you-bleeding sort of way, I have been inundated with requests to translate her lyrics.

So here I have translated perhaps the most (recently) famous of Kaji's tunes, Urami Bushi, the so-called "Grudge Song". (More lyric translations are soon forthcoming.)

The lesson I have learned from this exercise is the following: Gentlemen, if you EVER hear your significant other singing or even humming this tune, I seriously recommend to IMMEDIATELY EVACUATE the premises. You can thank me later.



Kaji Meiko's Audio CD
[Zenkyokushu]

????????

GODDESS ALERT!!!

As has been mentioned here and elsewhere, exemplar tough-girl actress Kaji Meiko (????) also had a budding singing career during the 1970s. Her voice graces several themes songs from well-known films of that era. And more recently, Quentin Tarantino used Kaji's original songs in his noir-samurai-tough-girl flick Kill Bill volumes 1 & 2.

Kaji produced a single audio CD, a "complete works" collection entitled Kaji Meiko Zenkyokushu [????????]) (and yes, zenkyokushu in fact means "complete collection of songs"!). The CD contains a total of twenty songs all of which Kaji sings, including the theme songs of the Scorpion and Lady Snowblood films (which Tarantino also used), films, I should add, in which Kaji plays the leading role.

Below I've added the titles of each of the songs as well as some scans of the sexy little booklet which accompanies the CD.



Female Convict Scorpion Grudge Song
[Joshuu sasori: 701-go urami-bushi]

Genre: Tough Girl Meets Guy, Kicks MAJOR Buttock-age

review in one breath

On the run from the cops, Matsushima Nami, aka Scorpion, hides out in a strip joint while the search for her cools off (and the LESBO ACTION heats up!). Faced with yet more abuse and injustice, Sasori once again pulls out the steely knives and metes out her own brand of final justice. This is the fourth and final Scorpion film starring Kaji Meiko.



Female Convict Scorpion Beast Stable
[Joshuu sasori: Kemono-beya]

Genre: Doom, Gloom and Very Sharp Knives

review in one breath

Still wanted for murder, Matsushima Nami aka Scorpion hides herself in the seedy back-alleys and underground sewer tunnels of Tokyo. Through happenstance she is befriended by Yuki, whose pitiful existence soon has major repercussions for Nami, all of which involve ferocity, revenge and sharp pointy knives. This is the third and final of director Ito's original series, though many Sasori films by others will follow.



The Princess Blade
[Shura Yuki Hime]

Genre: Weepy Ninja Apocalyptic

review in one breath

In the distant future, the final princess of a clan of assassins discovers the identity of her mother's killer and must decide whether to seek revenge or pursue a life of peace and love. This is a contemporary remake of the early 1970s Japanese manga Shura Yuki Hime.



Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance
[Shurayukihime : Urami Renga]

Genre: Sword Mistress Revenge Tale

review in one breath

Kashima Yuki inevitably finds herself in prison following the vengeful murder spree making up this film's prequel. But at the very steps of the gallows, she is given an opportunity to take up her sword once again, this time to strike down an enemy of the government. However, the closer she comes to her target, the heavier her sword and task become. This is a decent follow-up to the exemplary prequel by the same director.



Female Convict Scorpion Jailhouse 41
[Joshuu sasori: Dai-41 zakkyo-bo]

Genre: Visually Stylistic Escape and Revenge

review in one breath

Matsushima Nami aka Scorpion will use whatever opportunity is given her to exact revenge upon the sadistic prison warden Goda. But such opportunities come rarely and she soon finds herself fleeing the prison with a handful of women. Their trek is dangerous and brutal, and near its end is waiting the warden's police force eager to put these women in their place. This is a highly stylized story drawn in almost manga-like strokes. Matsu is definitely a COOL heroine.



Azumi 2 [Azumi 2: Love or Death]

Genre: Samurai Ninja Action

review in one breath

Azumi and Nagara, the last remaining assassins of Gessai's trained group, attempt to complete their mission against all odds. When old rebel alliances join with formidable ninja warriors, the demise of our noble-willed assassins seems assured. Unless...



Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter
[Nora-neko rokku: Sekkusu hanta]

Genre: Nearly Hip Youth Sub-Culture Confusion

review in one breath

Mako and her female gang of Alleycats are still battling the wannabe bad-guys known as the Eagles, this time over the latter's desire to purge their town of "half-breed" war children. When the Eagles take things one step too far, they're faced with the Molotov cocktail wielding wrath of Mako and the well-armed Kazuma, the dark-skinned hunk searching for his long lost sister Megumi.



Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless to Confess
[Zubeko bancho: zange no neuchi mo nai]

Genre: Excellent Female Camaraderie Revenge Tale

review in one breath

After their detention in the Akagi Reform School for Girls, Rika and her fellow detainees gradually reacquaint through various circumstances in the bustle of downtown Tokyo's nightlife. Though they have endured many hardships up to this point in their lives, it quickly becomes evident that the underground currents of Tokyo's subculture will easily consume them unless they band together. What follows in an excellent display of courage and noble sisterhood in the face of life-threatening situations.



Female Yakuza Tale: Inquisition and Torture
[Yasagure anego den: sokatsu rinchi]

Genre: Whole Lotta Nekkid Pinkie Violence

review in one breath

Inoshika Ocho is back!! And now she is tracking down a band of drug traffickers using female orifices (!) to secretly transport their dope. In this sequel to the very memorable Sex and Fury, the "blood and breast" theme continues full throttle. Though not nearly as effective as its prequel and routinely going completely over the top, this maintains a level of jaw-dropping entertainment.



Lady Snowblood
[Shurayukihime]

Genre: Excellent Sword Mistress Revenge Tale

review in one breath

This well drawn tale of revenge follows the quest of Kashima Yuki as she tracks down and annihilates those responsible for the destruction of her family. Through years of training and single-minded intent, she has become a ferocious fountain of vengeance merely waiting to be unleashed upon those whose crimes against her parents and sibling have gone unpunished.



Gate of Flesh [Nikutai no Mon]

Genre: Extreme Post War Survival Tale

review in one breath

Set immediately after WWII, this film explores the desperate lengths to which a squalid, burned out community must go to in order to survive. Originally intended as a gritty erotic tale starring Shishido Jo, director Suzuki Seijun turned this into an exceptional and immediate cinematic success. Suzuki's own experiences in the War come through clearly as he retells the depths to which post-war urban centers fell.



Scorpion's Revenge

Genre: Posh Interior Designer turned Knife-wielding Prison Babe

review in one breath

This contemporary remake of the Female Convict Scorpion saga pictures Sasori as a successful Los Angeles Interior Designer! But her color samples all turn blood red once she is imprisoned for murder and has to fend off the fiercest LESBO on the cell block. Fans of the original Sasori are sure to guffaw all the way through this one.



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