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Roland Domenig

Related: Japanese exploitation films - "pink" films

Vital flesh: the mysterious world of Pink Eiga

When Market of Flesh (Nikutai no ichiba) opened in Japan in March 1962, it caused a sensation. Within days, its distribution was halted by the police on charges of obscenity - the first case of its kind since the war. The screening of the film resumed after cuts were made, and it became a huge box office success.

Market of Flesh is now regarded as the film that started the pink eiga genre, a variation of the sexploitation film unique to Japan. For the past 40 years pink eiga have constituted one of the most vital segments of the Japanese film industry. Even though most pink eiga productions go unnoticed by film critics and film historians, the importance of the genre for Japanese cinema is undeniable.

Pink eiga constitutes a uniquely Japanese film genre that has no equivalent in the West. The films are low-budget movies, typically 60 minutes long, which contain a number of sex scenes. They are often of a pornographic nature, but they never explicitly show genitalia, pubic hair or hardcore sexual intercourse. These X-rated films are produced by small independent production companies and are shown at special cinemas in triple-bills.

Internationally renowned directors like Kurosawa Kiyoshi and Suo Masayuki, as well as experimental filmmakers such as Oki Hiroyuki and Sono Sion, found their start in pink eiga. Other notable directors include Wakamatsu Koji, Mukai Kan, Takita Yojiro, and Mochizuki Rokuro. Market Of Flesh director Kobayashi Satoru continued to direct pink eiga until his death last year. With more than 400 feature films to his credit, he was perhaps the most prolific director in Japanese film history.

In no other country has the sexploitation film played a more important role than in Japan. Even directors not usually associated with sexploitation - Oguri Kohei, Suwa Nobuhiro, Sakamoto Junji and Aoyama Shinji - began as assistant directors or scriptwriters on pink eiga productions. If the directors who emerged from the Nikkatsu variant Roman Porno - Negishi Kichitaro, Kaneko Shusuke, Nakahara Shun, Ishii Takashi, Sai Yoichi, Morita Yoshimitsu, Higashi Yoichi and Somai Shinji - are included, the list of pink eiga filmmakers could stand as a representative digest of Japanese cinema over the past decade. [...] -- Roland Domenig via

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