Director: Rei Sakamoto
Screenplay: Futoshi Nakano
Cast: Lemon Hanazawa, Yuichi Ishikawa, Yukarai Sanada, Motoko Sasaki, Kazuhiro Sano, Takeshi Ito
Producers: Daisuke Asakura
Distributor: Stance Company
1986 | 60 min
Japanese language, English subtitles
Long-term couple Kenichi and Miki’s relationship has lost its fizz, leading Kenichi to look elsewhere for the same sexual frisson, which he finds after a chance encounter with a former old girlfriend Yoshiko. The following morning, Yoshiko is hit by a car and dies. When it is revealed that she had no living relatives, Miki grudgingly accompanies Kenichi to Yoshiko’s hometown to lay her ashes to rest.
With the demise of the major studio Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno range in 1988, many feared the death of the theatrical erotic program picture. However, in the early 1990s, a group of four directors emerged on the scene known as the Shitenno (Four Devils, or Four Kings of Pink), who used the format of a number of sex scenes within an hour-long running time to produce experimental, political and socially critical works. These directors, Takahisa Zeze, Hisayasu Sato, Toshiki Sato and Kazuhiro Sano (who appears as an actor in YARIMAN) made a conscious effort to introduce their works to audiences outside of the pink film’s traditional adult cinema network, with their films playing in Tokyo’s arthouse cinemas and several overseas festivals. YARIMAN is an example of a film by one of the next generation of directors, sometimes referred to as the Shichifukujin (Seven Lucky Gods), whose films were less overtly political, more fun, and more focussed on interpersonal relationships.
The Shichifukujin directors all began in the industry as assistant directors to the Shitenno, making their directing debuts in the late 1990s, although due to changes in the industry have been rather less prolific, at most making one film a year as opposed to the four or five of the previous generation. Alongside director Rei Sakamoto, other Shichifukujin directors include Meike Mitsuru, who made THE GLAMOROUS LIFE OF SACHIKO HANAI (HANAI SACHIKO KAREI NA SHOGAI, 2004), and Yuji Tajiri, whose classic NO LOVE JUICE: RUSTLING IN BED (FUWA-FUWA NO BEDDO NO UE DE, 1999) best represents the change in tide with its increased emphasis on female subjectivity.
Born in 1973, Sakamoto is the youngest of the Shichifukujin. Beginning his career as an assistant to Takahisa Zeze, he made his debut in 1999 with 3 BALLS, 1 STRIKE (1999). YARIMAN follows a familiar template to many of Sakamoto’s films, which include 21ST CENTURY GIRL (18-SAI: SHITAGI NO NAKA NO UZUGI, 2001), FUTAMATA (2005), STRAWBERRIES AND THE GUN (INJO: GIBO TO SANKYODAI, 2007), where the death of an old friend leads to a soul-searching voyage of discovery into the past that unearths new and unforeseen emotions.