Tamayo has just turned 18, and been given a third android – Sukekiyo – for her birthday, to join the butler-like No. 1 and the superstrong No. 2. Sukekiyo is something of a misfit, and he and Tamayo must get to know each other… Meanwhile, her evil half sister hires a detective and hacker to take control of the androids and steal her share of their inheritance.
The press release for this rather short – 71 minutes – movie promises a heady mix of ninjas, robots, sex and swords. It sounds like a chunk of dirty, sleazy fun for a Saturday night, doesn’t it? Well, no.
Ah, you cry, then it must be a repulsive bit of porn masquerading as a sci-fi martial arts sex comedy? Well… No. If it was porn, there’d be some actual sex, a girl-girl scene, and, most importantly, better acting and production values. No, what it is, basically, is amateur night on YouTube, but with inferior acting and a lower budget.
It’s a shame, because the Sukekiyo/Tamayo plotline actually works, and is kind of sweet. Imagine the original season 2 Kryten from Red Dwarf, in a Japanese coming-of-age sex comedy, and that’s what you’ve got here. If writer-director Naoyuki Tomomatsu had run with that side of things, he could actually have got a very good manga series out of it.
Unfortunately, he pads out the film with the evil half-sister and her tame ninja (who doesn’t dress like a ninja or do anything ninja-y) and the detective they’ve hired. Sadly AV(Japanese softcore) star Maria Ozawa is astonishingly wooden (which she admits in the behind the scenes interviews) while the detective appears to have stepped out of a particularly annoying CBBC show.
What really kills this film – with the exception of some of the Sukekiyo/Tamayo stuff – is the production, direction, and budget. The whole thing is shot in less than a week, in someone’s house, on a camcorder… The effects are worse than anything any of you reading this could do on a laptop, there’s some random baffling gore at the end, and the androids are just guys – even when naked – with a mask and some earphones. (They’ve supposedly been designed by a “Dr Philip K Dick” in tribute to the author, but in terms of their role, they’d have been better referencing the Russian author Ilya Varshavsky’s robot stories). The action scenes, frankly, aren’t. The director seems to have no clue how to shoot or edit such a scene, and the actors don’t seem to bother – Ozawa pretty much restricts herself to drawing two swords and striking a pose. Which looks nice, but we have the poster and DVD sleeve for admiring still photos.
Perhaps the quick schedule, single location, and presence of two AV stars means this really is meant to be a porno? The extras do describe the film as SF/Erotica, but, no… The few sex scenes – and there are more in the average Movies 4 Men evening film – come over as not erotic or even titillating, but as “hey girls, let’s save money by doing the topless promo shots as part of filming.” Of these scenes, the longest is meant to be comedic, but is actually just embarrassing.
All this is doubly strange if, as the interview extras tell us, the director has done a lot of softcore AV productions: you’d think he’d know how to show off a pretty girl, rather than producing what seems to be an amateur’s first attempt at home SF film-making. You can’t help thinking maybe he wanted to break out and do something different, and wonder what things could have been if only he’d focused on what sort of movie he wanted to make.
It’s also a rather strange entry in Bounty and Eureka’s distribution catalogue too – they normally focus on classics, foreign gems, edge indie stuff… This is presumably just not sexy enough to have got a place in Japan’s regular AV schedule, and finding it here is the equivalent of seeing a single episode of Crossroads appearing, due to some weird rights negotiations, in a set of BFI classics.
What it all comes down to is this: Do not be fooled into thinking this is an SF movie, an action movie, or an erotic movie. It’s a very rushed pitch for what could have been an amusing robosexual manga, with half an hour of potentially interesting and entertaining stuff hidden by 40 minutes of excruciating amateurishness.
Verdict: As a YouTube series, if Tomomatsu had released it that way, this would actually work, or at least be worth seeking out for that half hour or so of potential, but as a DVD costing £16.99, it just doesn’t cut the mustard. 3/10
David A McIntee
Bounty Films DVD and Blu Ray.
Released September 26, 2011.