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January 2008 Archives

Oboreru Sakana
[Drowning Fish]

Genre: Ultra-Hip Crime Thriller

review in one breath

When corporate executives are blackmailed into public displays of nudity on the busy streets of Shinjuku, the big guns are called out to locate "Oboreru Sakana". The "big guns" are a misfit duo of ethically questionable characters who must infiltrate a gay nightclub and "fit in" while they search for clues. What ensues is both hilarious and action-packed.



GTO : Great Teacher Onizuka (live action)

Genre: Full-Blast Live Action Version of an Exemplar Anime Series

review in one breath

This is the live-action movie based on the wildly popular manga, TV anime series, and TV live-action series, all by the same name, based on the creative manga by artist Fujisawa Tooru. This series has SUCH great appeal both emotionally and intellectually that I simply feel compelled to mention it. I wholeheartedly recommend you experience the rebellious yet wholly good-natured character Onizuka.



The Notorious Concubines
[Kin Pei Bei]

Genre: One Sexy Woman Brings the (13th century Chinese) World to Its Knees

review in one breath

Based on the legendary exploits of Pan Chin Lien, a 13th century Chinese housewife whose passion and prowess not only eventually led to a prestigious status but also to the overthrow of several key men of power. This is another bizarre film by notorious director Wakamatsu Koji, only this time, the production studio is pulling the strings.



Flower and Snake 2: Paris/Shizuko
[Hana to hebi 2: Pari/Shizuko ]

Genre: Self-Indulgent BDSM Pornography Fantasy

review in one breath

Sugimoto Aya, erotic contortionist extraordinaire, returns for this sequel of the notorious BDSM fetish flick Hana to Hebi. Here, rather than victim, she plays veritable poster girl for women whose fantasies include being tightly tied up with hemp rope and treated roughly by men. Viva la Revolucion de Femme!!!



Flower and Snake
[Hana to Hebi]

Genre: Ludicrous BDSM Pornography Fantasy

review in one breath

When the lovely and pristine Shizuko is sold to the yakuza by her noodle-spined husband, she becomes the newest attraction in a bizarre and perverse sex show run for the fetishist pleasure of high-paying mask-wearing voyeurs. This film attempts to straddle the line between erotica and straight-out pornography by involving a well-known mainstream cast in an amazingly seedy and shocking narrative.



Edo Porn
[Hokusai Manga]

Genre: Dramatized Biography of Artist Hokusai Katsushika

review in one breath

This is a biographical film which follows the struggles of Edo-era artist Hokusai from his poorest beginnings to his famed accomplishments, including his notorious libidinous drawings. Though risque in much of what is depicts, this comes across as a straight-forward jidai-geki exploring a well-known historical figure's life and obsessions.



School of the Holy Beast
[Seiju gakuen / Convent of the Sacred Beast]

Genre: Norifumi's Naughty NUNsploitation

review in one breath

When Maya Takigawa enters a Catholic Nunnery to investigate the mysterious death of her mother, she finds a veritable circus of LESBO-ACTION and exuberant flagellation. And when things couldn't seem to get any more bizarre, she learns not only the fate of her mother but also the identity of her heretofore unknown father. This notorious film by equally notorious director Suzuki Norifumi undoubtedly kept millions of young Japanese women from entering the Catholic monastery!



Girl Boss Guerilla
[Sukeban Gerira]

Genre: Fist Flailing Female Bikers

review in one breath

Sachiko and her Red Helmet Gang leave the neon of Shinjuku and take a road trip to see the Gion Festival of Kyoto. But within hours of their arrival we find them nipple deep in yakuza cat fights (MEOW!!) and estrogen-driven power grabs! Will Sachiko be able to maintain her grip over the unruly Kyoto gangs? And, more importantly, will she be able to locate the missing plot???



Terrifying Girls' High School: Lynch Law Classroom
[Kyoufu Joshi Koukou: Boukou Rinchi Kyoushitsu]

Genre: Bad-Girl Gang Brawls Extraordinaire

review in one breath

Beneath the facade of the Hope Reform School for Girls is a seedy and corrupt administration using the female students for everything from bar hostesses to discipline enforcers. When tough girl gang leader Kazama Noriko is suddenly sent to the school, she finds that cruelty and injustice run rampant. As the powers that be attempt to put the squeeze on Noriko, you can begin to hear the slight tic tic ticking of a very BIG time bomb.



Female Prisoner 701 Scorpion
[Joshuu 701-go: Sasori ]

Genre: Babes (and Breasts) Behind Bars

review in one breath

Imprisoned for trying to kill a crooked cop, Matsushima Nami becomes prisoner 701 in a ruthless and sadistic prison where oodles of breast-baring and backstabbing abound. Though surviving the many plots on her life by fellow female inmates requires her constant vigilance, her sight is set on escaping in order to exact her consuming revenge.



Kekko Kamen Returns
[Kekko Kamen: ritanzu]

Genre: Habitually Nude Heroine Comes to the Rescue of Bathing Beauties.

review in one breath

Our Butt-Naked Heroine is back, this time to save poor Mayumi from the perverted coaches of the girls' swimming team! When the faculty's gleeful panty raids are suddenly interrupted by a buxom ghost in a swimsuit, a school mystery slowly unfolds. But only the formidable and nude skills of Kekko Kamen can solve the secrets of this terror and bring justice to these poor over-worked (and over-gawked) girls!



Kunoichi: Lady Ninja [Kunoichi ninpocho Yagyu gaiden]

Genre: Mythical Schlock Ninja-ette Adventure [Late Edo/Tokugawa Era]

review in one breath

Though the last 7 daughters of the Hori clan have hidden as nuns in a convent, the Evil Lord of Aizu soon comes knocking. When they discover that their father has been captured and killed by the Evil Lord, they swear amongst themselves to avenge their father's death by unleashing the hidden Ninja Magic within themselves. Under the tutelage of master samurai Yagyu Jubei, the 7 soon find themselves nipple-deep in disaster.



The Demon
[Kichiku]

Genre: Heart-Wrenchingly Abysmal Morality Tale

review in one breath

Sokichi's past and present tragically collide when his mistress Kikuyo, with whom he has fathered three children and then left, suddenly arrives at the home of he and his wife O-ume. The encounter leaves Sokichi speechless and his wife enraged. But when the wife begins heaping abuse upon Kikuyo, it becomes clear that Kiyoku will receive no help in her children's survival. In a fit of rage, Kikuyo abandons her children, leaving them with Sokichi and his hate-filled wife, sending the three younglings, and their father, into a god-forsaken spiral toward visceral tragedy.



Salaryman Kintaro

Genre: Whoop-Ass White Collar Anime Series

review in one breath

When notorious bike-gang leader Yajima Kintaro abandons his gang to pursue a straighter path, he finds that even in the mundane world of white collar work there are plenty of times a man must either step up and confront injustice or acquiesce out of intimidation. Unfortunately for the bad guys, Kintaro has not forgotten his whoop-ass ways and brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "office power politics"! This is an infamously excellent and meaningful anime series for both youth and adults. Definitely a must see!


GTO : Great Teacher Onizuka

Genre: Very Funny Ruffian Turned Teacher Fiascoes!

review in one breath

"GTO" stands for "Great Teacher Ozinuka", referring to a rough and tumble yet amazingly sincere teacher of Japanese junior high students. Though drawn in traditional cell animation, this series' (amazingly) polished degree of humor, societal commentary and wholesome humanitarianism make this a "must see" event. Here is another excellent example of creative and meaningful Japanese anime.



Apple Seed
[Appurusheedo]

Genre: EXCELLENT (!) Sci-Fi Action CG Anime -- Please Don't Wake Me Up

review in one breath

With humanity on the brink of self-annihilation due to prolonged and numerous wars, human-like androids endowed with artificial intelligence are dispersed throughout the population to "balance" mankind's irrational emotionalism. But as the androids appear ready to surpass humanity on the evolutionary stage, a subversive movement is spawned to overthrow the new life forms, and with them the critical balance to humanity's darker side. This is such an incredible visual experience that I can only implore that you see it for yourself!



Blood Reign - Curse of the Yoma
[Y�ma / Youma]

??

Genre: Sengoku Era Ninja Versus Monsters Anime

review in one breath

When a childhood friend suddenly disappears following inexplicable circumstances, Hikage sets out to solve the mystery. Along the way he encounters zombies, Shinto Gods, formidable warriors, a couple hot babes, and one VERY Bad Dude! This is an old-school anime with a good traditional Japanese nature/monster theme where Good must fight Evil while the fate of the entire cosmos hangs in the balance!



Ghost In The Shell 2 : Innocence

Genre: Surreal Futurist Vision of Mind Meets Machine

review in one breath

In this highly acclaimed sequel, not only has the technological bizzarities of the world gone rampant, but the producers have taken a qualitative evolutionary step in their anime rendering. This is an amazing piece of eye candy wrapped in an intellectually satisfying Sci-Fi tale. The futuristic vision presented here is quite impressive and often jaw-dropping.



Ghost In The Shell
[Koukaku Kidoutai]

Genre: Matrix Meets Blade Runner in an Existential Spiral

review in one breath

This "cyber-punk" animation follows the human-machine hybrids Major Kusanagi and Batou of the Anti-Terrorism Unit as they pursue a mysterious and formidable hacker known as the Puppet Master. In this futuristic world where computers blend effortlessly with the human psyche, human strength can be multiplied many times through robotic enhancements. Of course, it also means that one's mind is only as safe as the cyber-security surrounding it. This is a highly memorable film which held significant impact upon the anime community.



Alice
[A.Li.Ce]

Genre: Computer Generated Sci-Fi Eye Candy

review in one breath

After young Alice is propelled thirty years into to the future, the world she finds is horribly different from the one she left. Massive population decrease and mysterious mass removal of entire villages all point to the formidable and mysterious Nero who controls the entire world through a super-intelligent computer which is virtually impenetrable.



Devilman

Genre: Damien Meets the X-Men Meets the END OF THE WORLD!!!

review in one breath

When a freak scientific exploration breaches the underworld, Hell itself soon floods the world of the living, transforming millions into gross demonic creatures and obliterating any remaining global social order. As humans turn against humans in a berserk and violent witchhunt for the demonic mutants, global war and chaos ensue as Satan himself scoffingly watches humanity self-destruct. And yet one frighteningly powerful creature cannot cast off his human heart and thus becomes the Devil/man intent on protecting those he loved. Based on the manga, this is an incredible visual explosion which puts any Western apocalyptic tale to shame.



Seduce and Swindle [Akumyouden]

Genre: Low Budget Crime Drama bOOb-Fest

review in one breath

When habitual lady swindler Ikki sets his site on one of the most prominent young women in Tokyo, both the cops and other swindlers are soon hot on his tail. Under the thin guise of a barely suspenseful crime drama, moan-filled sex scenes and nipple close-ups prevail. Woo Hoo!!



Zero Focus
[Zero no shoten]

Genre: Contemplative Mystery

review in one breath

When a newlywed husband suddenly disappears while on a business trip, his wife spearheads the effort to find out what happened. Her search brings her to a remote northern town lined with steep cliffs descending into the turbulent winter sea. In a plot filled with twists and unexpected turns, this comes across as a very effective early Japanese crime drama.



Kekko Kamen : Mangriffon's Counterattack
[Kekko Kamen: Mangurifon no gyakushu]

Genre: Butt-Naked Female Superhero Kicks, uh, Butt

review in one breath

When good-natured Mayumi finds herself at the mercy of her sadistic, panty-crazed teachers, only one brave naked soul is capable of confronting her tormentors -- Kekko Kamen! Wearing nothing but knee-high red boots and a red leather mask, this nunchaku wielding superhero gives these perverts a dose of their own medicine. Wildly cornball and completely over the top, this will have you watching with mouth agape in utter disbelief! Two Nipples Up!




Kunoichi: Deadly Mirage [Genma Sappocho: Shensengumi Hishou]

Genre: Buxom Ninja-ette Monster Showdown
Director: Akiyama Yutaka (1997)

review in one breath

When the Shinsen Clan learns of a plot to overthrow the Tokugawa government, they send out their five remaining ninjas, all women of the Shiryu bloodline. While battling numerous adversaries to intercept a secret letter outlining the details of the planned subversion, a bizarre evil is unleashed by a well-meaning monk attempting to resurrect a dead soldier. What ensues is a whole lotta naked writhing and a battle of semi-epic proportions with zombies intent on taking over the world or something.



A Weather Woman
[Otenki Oneesan]

Genre: Boobie-Filled Weather Woman Catfight Extraordinaire

review in one breath

When sexually-charged and highly ambitious Keiko finally gets her chance to make her TV debut, her flirtatious and unorthodox methods soon make her the most popular weather woman in all of Japan. As her ratings soar and her boldness increases, a plot by a rival femme fatale soon turns into a full-blown extravaganza of dueling beauties. For there can be only one... Weather Woman.



Samurai Banners
[Furin kazan]

????

Genre: HUGE (!!!) Ashikaga/Sengoku Era Samurai Epic

review in one breath

This enormous historical epic directed by Inagaki Hiroshi and starring Mifune Toshiro explores the land-hungry expansion of Takeda Shingen of Kai province and his ultimate battle with Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo. Set during the transition between the Ashikaga and Sengoku Eras, this is an action-packed, panoramic tale of strategy, battle and allegiance.



Misa the Dark Angel
[aka Eko Eko Azarak 3]

Genre: Trans-Dimensional Supernatural Horror

review in one breath

The mysterious Kuroi Misa is back, this time investigating why an incredibly charred demonic girl screamed Misa's name before melting into the Tokyo street. Clues lead her to a local highschool and into a thespian club's attempt to dramatically reenact the Homunculus play. Little do the girls realize, however, that their play is actually a satanic ritual which will transport them to a sinister dimension of terror (and a gazillion lurching homunculii)!



Marronnier [the subtitle should be: Run Like Hell]

Genre: Craptastic and Wholly Avoidable Doll-Zombie Schlock

Version reviewed: Region 1 subtitled DVD

Preferring the eternal beauty (and blissful silence) of dolls to real-life women a sissy mad scientist methodically abducts blossoming cuties and converts them into tiny wax marionettes. The resulting CREEPY doe-eyed dolls not only become a mega-hit with Tokyo consumers but soon end up walking, talking, and occasionally spilling goopy eyeballs and body parts onto their now screaming owners. Based on the manga by Ito Junji, this is truly one god-AWFUL film.


Eko Eko Azarak: Wizard of Darkness

Genre: Supernatural Lesbian Slasher

review in one breath

Thirteen high school students find themselves the unwitting sacrifices in a grand scheme to resurrect Lucifer in a bid for world domination. As their number dwindles in gruesome manner, the survivors' hope is pinned solely on the magic powers of the new transfer student Kuroi Misa. This is a fast-paced blend of euro-Goth witchcraft, schlock gore and HOT LESBIAN ACTION!



Graveyard of Honor
[Jingi no Hakaba]

Genre: Yakuza Moral Implosion Extraordinaire

review in one breath

This infamous Fukasaku film marks a turning point in Japan's cinematic portrayal of yakuza, from that of a dying bushido breed to self-destructive and societally dangerous criminals. In a powerful and violent tale based on a real-life gangster from Fukasaku's own hometown, audiences are led to both simultaneously sympathize with and revile the monstrous Rikio and the path to hell he chooses.



Jigoku
[Hell / Sinner's Hell]

Genre: Classic Gore-laden Morality Tale

review in one breath

When the good-natured Shiro gets mixed up with his rather sinister classmate Tamura, his life takes a drastic turn for the worse as he suddenly finds himself in the depths of human depravity. Inevitably he and those he caused to suffer find themselves within the horrors of the Eight Gates of Hell where they all will suffer eternally to atone for their sins. But once in Hell, Shiro learns a tragic secret which spawns within him the power of hope. This is a 1960 classic.



Sex and Fury
[Furyo anego den: Inoshika Ocho]

Genre: Sex, Sex, Sex and a Whole Lotta Fury

review in one breath

After witnessing the murder of her father at an early age, Ocho has dedicated her life to avenging her father's death. She was left with only three clues, the images of a wild boar, a deer and a butterfly. When she eventually unlocks the mystery behind the killers' identity, it leads her down dark halls of, well, SEX and FURY.



Rensa: The Cursed Video
[Rensa: Noroi no Bideo]

Genre: (Very) Low-budget (non)Supernatural (non)Horror

review in one breath

Only four video tapes remain from an ambitious group of four youth who had set out to investigate various mysterious suicides. Following the group's unexplained disappearance, a detailed exploration of the content of the four tapes is pursued in the hopes that some light might be shed on the matter. Will the grainy tapes reveal the mystery behind the group's untimely demise? WHO KNOWS?!?!


[Update 3: 8/5/2011] For a NEW reliable retail seller of Kiseru pipes and Koiki Tobacco please read this.

[Update 2: 10/15/2010] After some investigation and consultation with local pipe shops, the KISERU is apparently considered a "one hitter" pipe and as such is categorized as nothing more than another possible pot pipe. None of the major pipe/tobacco retailers I spoke with wanted anything to do with such "one hitters" citing major federal and state regulations. Even the head shops on Clark/Belmont Avenue, which indeed sell one-hitter pot pipes, wanted to pursue the sale of Japanese tobacco (again, citing federal/state regulations). I will continue to pursue this, though it seems the only likely current scenario is that the Kiseru pipes will be sold by a head shop and NO Japanese tobacco will be available.

[Update 1] I have been informed that as of 9/1/2010, LSANDO no longer supports the sale of Kiseru for overseas shipping. They have removed the English-translated pages from their site. The links on this page now point to only Japanese-language pages. SaruDama intends to verify with LSANDO what their policy now is regarding oversea shipping/processing and if necessary seek out an alternative location from which readers in the U.S. might obtain Japanese kiseru and tobacco.

LSando.com has a new collection of Kiseru Pipes

Living Shop Ando [LSando.com] is to my knowledge the only authentic (geographically and culturally) Japanese pipe shop which offers international currency and shipping for its excellent selection of traditional Kiseru pipes, carrying cases and the exclusively Japanese Koiki tobacco used for Kiseru. I have personally purchased from them and consider them top-notch. (You can find pics and descriptions of my purchases HERE.)


Tales of Terror from Tokyo - Volume 1
[Kaidan Shin Mimi Bukuro: Night 1]

Genre: Collection of 15 Terrifyingly Unscary Tales

review in one breath

Culled from the long-running TV series of Kaidan Shinmimi Bukuro, this collection of 15 short tales from various directors sets a new standard for anti-climactic "horror" stories ranging from the unscary to the utterly dull.


Cutie Honey [Kyuti Hani]

Genre: Cleavage-Filled SuperHero Story of Love

review in one breath

Based on the popular manga, this live-action version follows the CUTIE superhero as she tries to save Tokyo from the formidable Queen of Darkness and her strange minions. This film effectively pulls together comedy, sexiness, CG effects and a really good narrative. This was totally entertaining, and yes I LOVE CUTIE HONEY!!



[Update 3: 8/5/2011] For a NEW reliable retail seller of Kiseru pipes and Koiki Tobacco please read this.

[Update 2: 10/15/2010] After some investigation and consultation with local pipe shops, the KISERU is apparently considered a "one hitter" pipe and as such is categorized as nothing more than another possible pot pipe. None of the major pipe/tobacco retailers I spoke with wanted anything to do with such "one hitters" citing major federal and state regulations. Even the head shops on Clark/Belmont Avenue, which indeed sell one-hitter pot pipes, wanted to pursue the sale of Japanese tobacco (again, citing federal/state regulations). I will continue to pursue this, though it seems the only likely current scenario is that the Kiseru pipes will be sold by a head shop and NO Japanese tobacco will be available.

[Update 1] I have been informed that as of 9/1/2010, LSANDO no longer supports the sale of Kiseru for overseas shipping. They have removed the English-translated pages from their site. The links on this page now point to only Japanese-language pages. SaruDama intends to verify with LSANDO what their policy now is regarding oversea shipping/processing and if necessary seek out an alternative location from which readers in the U.S. might obtain Japanese kiseru and tobacco.

Beautiful, isn't it?

Surely you recognize the kiseru!!

Fans of samurai and history-based Japanese films have undoubtedly seen one of these being contemplatively smoked during discussions of either covert military strategies or flirtatious banter leading to kimono-less frolics on the tatami.

My new Kiseru arrived today from Japan thanks to the excellent service I received from Living Shop Ando, one of the only places selling these authentic pipes internationally. (I'll tell you about Ando below).

Here's (almost) everything you ever wanted to know about traditional Japanese kiseru including what Japanese tobacco you put in it and how to get your own...


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