Pulse (回路,Kairo) Review: Help Me Escape Loneliness

Our world is ancient. People born and people die since prehistoric time. But what happens when there’s no more space left in the afterworld for those who have passed away? What are they? Ghosts? Wandering souls? When that happens, they bleed into our realm. The ghosts walk among us. So never open The Forbidden Room or else you will experience death, the eternal loneliness.

Pulse directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, released in 2001 in Japan and 2005 in the U.S, is a philosophical horror film with a touch of science fiction all mixed into one. Quite frankly I was pleasantly surprised this showed up in my recommendation of films to watch on Amazon Prime Video. I have been searching for this film for a while and seen it several years ago but forgot the title. If it were a video game, I would play it in a heartbeat. In fact, some of the horror titles I enjoyed in the past were released around that time:

The film is not as straight forward so watching it with full attention and twice is recommended. It’s like reading a heavy novel. There’s a lot to digest and piece together. Each frame, each scene ties well together, painting a world that is on the brink of human extinction. The scariest thing about this film is the internet and the red tape. Some places are just meant to be sealed away.

Why do we connect to the internet? Why do we need to connect with others? Most normal people go about wanting few interactions with people as possible or don’t see a need to fill up the void inside of them. That’s why if humans are too far apart, they are drawn together but get too close, they die. What’s the point of getting close? As Harue Karasawa (character from the film) explains a grad student programming project:

Two dots get too close to each other, they die and if they are too far apart, they are drawn closer together.

That’s the world we live in.

Take a moment to think about this abstract idea. How many times have you been honest with a friend but only end up hurting them instead? What’s the point of friendship then?

For horror fans, I don’t need to tell you to watch it because you might have already seen it, especially if you fall into the millennial age group. Japanese horror was a sensation back then. I remember the The Ring terrified many in theater including myself and I became interested in Japanese horror ever since.

One thing I took out from this film is that if I ever need to feel the need to connect with anyone, it might be wise just to turn off the device and connect with real people. Don’t glorify loneliness. It’s eternal death. Humans are no different from ghosts if we are pacing back in form in our rooms, trapped in the internet world.

Female Prisoner 701 Scorpion (1972) Review: The Obedient Citizen and Her Government

I’m glad I watched this film last in this series. It took a bit of detective work but I enjoyed the ride. Everything makes sense why Scorpion possesses the spirit of a dead girl and why she harbors a deep hatred towards cops. This film got political fast and I am afraid that I don’t have the credibility to discuss Japanese culture in depth. It would require heavy textbook research. I can, however, point out that this film is a satire of Japanese society.

Scorpion symbolizes the average citizens who devotedly entrusted all her faith to her protector. Her lover, a narcotic cop is the symbolism of the government. The Japanese flag in the beginning and towards the end helped me put the two together. Similar to how the common people get screwed by their leaders, Scorpion was betrayed and deceived by her lover. He used her to infiltrate the drug scene in which she was later exposed and then raped by the Yakuza mob. It was all planned out, so that he can get promoted and move up the hierarchy chain. Talk about police corruption. The song that keeps playing over and over in all of the films makes sense now. Once he made love to her, he tossed her away. No one wants to be violated and betrayed by the person she/he trusted. It’s better to watch your own back then entrust it to others is the message I got from this film series.

Overall, I was blown away by the cinematography despite the stripping and ripping off the clothes, revealing the naked women bare breasts and the mild pornographic scenes which all serve a point and add a little humor. One memorable scene is when one of the female prisoners spilled over her plump peach-like breasts over the male guard face and raped him. I can hear her saying through her action: “You like breasts so much? I will force feed you!” Such a serious plot needs to be laughed at. Without the dramatic effects, I wouldn’t understand the metaphors in this film. I highly recommend this film series if you are starved for some good morbid sense of humor. I had a good laugh and I’m happy that the heroine was able to avenge the crime that has wrongfully committed against her.

I love Scorpion. Such an amazing woman. She is the Japanese Joan of Arc! And now I must go out into the street, partially showing my breast to defend justice. After all, I’m a feminist!!!

I’m just kidding. I just had to rhyme.

If you happened to stop by my blog for the first time, please check out my other reviews for this film series which are not in chronological order, but in the order I watched the films and thank you for reading:

Female Prisoner Jailhouse 41 (1972) Review: Bad Boys Are Dogs!

Female Prisoner Scorpion 701’s Grudge Song (1972) Review: Your “Thingy” Will Get Sting

Female Prisoner Scorpion Beast Stable (1973) Review: Strike A Pose in Red District

Female Prisoner Scorpion Beast Stable (1973) Review: Strike A Pose in Red District

There are four films total based on the manga series written by Tooru Shinohara. I’ve been hooked with this series. So far I watched 3 out of 4. Not all the films are directed by Shunya Ito. Female Prisoner Scorpion: 701’s Grudge Song was directed by Yasuharu Hasebe. No wonder the style is noticeably different. (I had to do some research to see why it was off). I have one more film to watch to complete this series.

Female Prisoner Scorpion Beast Stable is the most animalistic, metamorphically speaking, but most artistic out of all the film series so far. The angle, the shots, the unspoken words between the characters and the color scheme made it an enjoyable film to watch solely for art sake. Don’t be fooled by the cover though. The color placement of blue and orange are purposely done to enhance the tone of the film. You see the colors in the character’s attire and background decors. It’s no accident. Blue is a complementary color to orange according to the color wheel. The colors are so popish. Sometimes I forget I am watching a film because it looks like a perfume ad or a fashion catalog or a photo album. I am not complaining. I do appreciate good art.

Yes, Scorpion is on the loose again and she is being hunted by the detectives. In this film, Scorpion becomes friend with a girl name Yuki who happens to be a prostitute and who shamefully commits incest to keep her brain damage brother satisfied. When I said the film is animalistic, this is what I meant. It’s unnatural and would make any average person recoil. Even Yuki locked her beastly brother away as if he is a farm animal and attempted to kill him but didn’t have the heart to do so.

There are other characters, apart from Scorpion, who is unmistakably referred to an animal. The female pimp who dresses like a crow. She is a bully, a scavenger. She even has a cage to keep her fellow crow mates locked away, which just show how corrupted she is. There is a scene where she forces one of the prostitutes to get an abortion. Why? A pregnant woman is bad business! Even Scorpion has to make money! She works at the sweatshop. On a side note, I don’t know if it was intentional, but the clothing, the red lipstick and the laborious sewing are quite suiting in this film. Women are enslaved to make clothes and look beautiful for prostitution and thus attract predators. Hmm… I always thought fashion is a form of woman empowerment, not an invitation for sex. Regardless, Scorpion made the sweatshop glamorous. There is nothing more attractive than a beautiful woman who knows how to dress well. Scorpion is like a fashion model in this film.

Overall great film. Great cinematography. I enjoyed it. If you appreciate late 60s to early 70s pop fashion or if you just appreciate beautiful women, then I recommend this film if you haven’t seen it already.

If you just happened to stop by my blog, please check out my other reviews for this film series and thank you for reading:

Female Prisoner Scorpion 701’s Grudge Song (1972) Review: Your “Thingy” Will Get Sting

Female Prisoner Jailhouse 41 (1972) Review: Bad Boys Are Dogs!

Female Prisoner Scorpion 701’s Grudge Song (1972) Review: Your “Thingy” Will Get Sting

If you have been following this blog, you probably know that I enjoyed Female Prisoner Jailhouse 41 very much. Some would argue that the film is a response to the Feminist Movement, calling out all men as filthy horn dogs. Women became criminals because men have wronged them in some ways (okay maybe I am going a bit too far. The Feminist Movement is about gender equality). In contrast to Female Prisoner Jailhouse 41, this film does not condone one sex over the other. In fact, I would label this film as a parody between the battle of the sexes and with the higher authority. It clearly points out the sadistic nature of those who stand for law. Cops can be piggish and anyone who has a heart would side with Scorpion (she is also referred to Nami Matsushima in the film) played by Meiko Kaji. The plot sounds interesting doesn’t it? Actually, the film failed to deliver that message, which then made it a bit of a disaster and cringey to watch. What is the fascination with genital torture, or to put it bluntly, rape?

First off, I want to point out that I am a full grown adult woman. I don’t shy away from watching sex scenes in films. It’s like watching the birds and the bees. It’s part of nature. However, I am against bad sex. It may appeal to some folks, but having your genital burned by boiling water is just brutal. In this film, the male lead, Teruo Kudo played by Masakazu Tamura, works at the sex club. His job is to control the lighting. What’s the irony in that? He got first class seating and yet he can’t get a boner because his “thingy” is messed up; it’s all because of the cops! Kudo’s flashback shows a bunch of cops tying him down, pouring hot water on his crotch! I guess you can laugh about it, depending how sadistic you are, but it’s just not right. Thus, Kudo has a grudge against the cops for ruining his “thingy” which prompted him to help Scorpion escape from the police. Keep in mind, this woman killed eight detectives! She is very dangerous and it’s still a mystery to what really happened to her. But we can draw a conclusion based on the song in the film that she was discarded by the man she loved. The lyrics goes like this:

You are a beautiful flower. His words flatter you today. But once you are in full bloom. He’ll just toss you away. Foolish, foolish, foolish woman’s song. Her song of vengeance.

Another cringey scene that didn’t sit well with me is when Scorpion and Kudo interrogate the detective wife who happens to be pregnant. Watching a pregnant woman falling off the balcony is brutal. Okay, the detective is an a-hole, but what did the unborn child do? It’s just not right. Male cops are bad and the female cops are just as bad with their whips! It seems they look forward to punishing criminals by executing them on the gallows. On top of that, the cops have no problem raping their women! There was no good reason which led to the rape scene, unless I am missing something.

In summary, I was disappointed in this film because it didn’t have any real direction other than the fact Scorpion is a dangerous woman, and she is kind of cool. But watch out! Don’t fall for her because she will sting you! It made me wonder why do men fall for difficult women? It really is a mystery to me. Don’t want good girls because they are too boring. Well you’ll get what you deserve. Your “thingy” will get sting. Hey, I am just reiterating the film’s message, or at least what I got out of it.

Well that is it for now. It’s not a great film, but I hope you had a good laugh or learned something. I know, I sure did.

Ninja Scroll(1993)Review: A Love Story for Humanity

Don’t underestimate the power of good illustration. Like a prey, people like me get trapped by its web all the time. That’s what happened to me with Ninja Scroll. I jumped into this film without knowing anything about it. I just saw the cover and I thought it looked cool. And I was not wrong. The illustration is stunningly beautiful despite the gore, sex and violence which enhanced the overall viewing experience. I was in awe or perhaps, after seeing so many subpar animations, it’s nice to finally see the real deal. Then again, I like the films directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, which I later found out after watching this film that the same director did Demon City Shinjuku (1988). I noticed his style. It’s alluring. Ninja Scroll is how I would define a romance story. The relationship between the poison taster Kagero (female lead) and the wandering ninja Kibagami Jubei (male lead), illustrates a romantic union for human survival.

Right off the bat, the film started off really cool where Jubei, a very skilled swordsman, got attacked by thieves. It’s later, we learn that Jubei was hired by a clan for 20 ryo to get a highly treasured sword back for a poor clan. How many people do you know would accept a modest compensation for a big task? Only a big-heart hero like Jubei would. Instantly, I was wooed.

On the other hand, Kagero’s entrance came on strong as well. In fact, highly admirable. The way how the scene introduces her barging into a room of ninjas, instantly won me over. She refuses to stay behind and watch all of the clan members get wiped out by the Shogun of Dark clan. Hot-headed and as fearless as she is, makes her an entertaining character to watch alongside with the more relaxed, hobo-ish ninja, Jubei.

Of course, it is probably not intended to be a romance story, or perhaps it’s a subtle romance story about humanity striving to survive the corrupted world filled with demons (I am thinking abstractly here). Your experience with the film may differ from mine. But I think we can agree that the animation in this film is top-notch. Some of the scenes, however, involving women, can be gruesomely graphic (rape scenes). It may make some uncomfortable, but it didn’t offend me because it serves a purpose by illustrating how politically corrupted the world is in that time era. And honestly, I kind of like that over the top exaggerated storytelling. It’s art. To be fair, both men and women in this film are both sexualized and both are just as equally strong while having their own unique vulnerabilities. It is nice to see the masculine and feminine energy at play, metaphorically speaking.

In conclusion, I have never experienced love to know what romance is until I watched this film. I protect you; you protect me. Isn’t that how relationship should be? Kagero and Jubei made a great team. This film is my definition of what makes a romantic love story.

Female Prisoner Jailhouse 41 (1972) Review: Bad Boys Are Dogs!

I am addicted to laughing. I might have just found one of the funniest film I have ever watched. A big fan of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction here, but this one tops it.  Don’t get mad now. I am not a man-hater but the portrayal of men in this film is a bit accurate; they are kind of like wild dogs when they are not domesticated.  But the women in this film are just as bad. In fact, they are as brutal as the men—even more so, I would say. I had a good laugh seeing both genders behaving like animals, battling against each other. The scenes are so shockingly grotesque that I watched it three times in a row! I am just that shocked!

The stunningly beautiful main character Scorpion, played by Meiko Kaji, is the most dangerous prisoner. Get too close and she will bite. The police had to lock her in the underground facility where insects resided. For a year, she was in insolation.  Until one day, the head of the policemen got promoted and decided to treat her like a human and invited her to celebrate with him along with other female prisoners. His sadistic way of taming the female prisoners into good girls led him to promotion. How ironic is that? But this is where the fun starts. It’s time for the girls to break out of jail and put those bad boys back in their place!

I won’t go into details about the plot because I just don’t want to spoil for folks who have not seen it. Apart from the plot, the cinematography is superb. As I mentioned before, I watched it 3 times, well 4 times now. It is so well done and the dialogues were well thought out that if I ever feel the need to laugh, I will just watch this film. It’s that good.  

Romance Doll Review: Love Is Remembrance

Sometimes I think the term feminism is just a Western product. Over the years, it has carried such a bad connotation. I think vocal feminists are confused these days. Just because I am on the quiet side, it doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in gender equality nor do I condone femininity. Do I have to throw away my femininity to demand equality? Objectification is cringy, no lie, but Romance Doll proves it otherwise.

My first initial impression when I found this show on Netflix, I thought uh oh, it’s sex dolls for lonely men because I heard that single men prefer 2d girls/dolls over real women these days. Real women can’t compete with timeless beauties. So I was expecting the film to be political. To the contrary, I was pleasantly surprised that the film is nothing about the politics of dolls and how it may affect society in a negative way. Instead, the film explores the meaning of love by objectifying woman in the most respectful manner. It’s oxymoron, I know.

Like most art graduates, it’s difficult to find a job that utilize one’s skills. The male protagonist Tetsuo happened to graduate from an art school specializing in sculpture. A friend recommended him a job without letting him know what it is. He later found himself employed to the industry of making sex dolls. It’s not the most prestigious job, but it’s not entirely bad as it seems. In fact, he hit the jackpot! The job not only allowed him the opportunity to meet his future wife Sonoko, but it also allowed him to hone his artistic skills in creating a breathing, realistic love doll. It is his passion that ironically made Sonoko fell in love with him. He pressed his hands on her breasts to feel the texture, claiming he was creating breasts prosthetic for medical use. You might be thinking, what a sly, unethical pervert. I thought the same. But this section of the film was well executed. There is a great amount of respect for the woman’s body. It’s almost sacred-like, which explains why Tetsuo couldn’t tell Sonoko that he creates love dolls for a living.

As they say, man falls in love with image, and woman falls in love through how she feels. Out of impulse, Testsuo and Sonoko agreed to marry. Sounds like a fairy-tale doesn’t it? But it’s far from a happy story. As time progresses, secrecy between the married couple unfolds and both learn about what it means to love and to trust. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage.

What I find so pleasing about this film is that I was not offended by the notion of love dolls and what they are used for because the film did such a great job at illustrating how it can help lonely men. Think about it, why do we hold certain objects more important than others? Why are diamonds valuable to women? In this case, Testuo creates his SONOKO love doll out of remembrance for his love towards his wife who then helps fill the void of lonely men. The doll is far from trash. She is made with love and quality.

As for my final thoughts for this film, the irony of SONOKO love doll is that she was mold after a perfect wife (caring, patient, and obliging) but she is also “nice and horny.” Sounds like a wish come true to lonely men. I am pretty sure Sonoko’s soul feels content knowing that she is helping lonely men even after she is long gone from this world. After all, human companionship is part of human survival needs.

I’m not surprised that this film was directed by a woman: Yuki Tanada. The undertone of Romance Doll is far from trashy. It is typical of a woman to hold her female kind with high regards, especially if it involves sex and her body.