Sunday, January 18, 2009

Review: Maruhi Shikijou Ichiba: The World of Roman Porno

Reprinted from Eigazoku

For those not familiar with the term Roman Porno (Romantic Porno - classy eh?), the term came from Nikkatsu Studio's classifications of its pinku softcore/sexploitation films primarily from the '60s and '70s. The thing that differentiates a Roman from a regular old porn film is the directors of the former were given a lot of free reign in their films thus allowing more room for characterization, drama, action, and the like. The only requirement of a Roman was a certain amount of nude and/or (simulated) sex scenes per hour were required to be in the film. Several well-known cult directors have come out of this system including Yasuharu Hasebe (Stray Cat Rock series), Noboru Tanaka (Angel Guts series), Shogoro Nishimura (Gate Of Flesh), and Masaru Konuma (Flower and Snake).

So, now, we have in our hands Maruhi Shikijou Ichiba (tr: Confidential: Sex Market, a 1974 Roman Porno directed by Tanaka) The World of Roman Porno, a CD (and seedy) collection of various tracks from films spanning 1973-1978. As could be expected, a great majority of the tracks have a funky undertone to them, from the wailing Dennis Coffeyesque guitar fuzz of "Photograph" to the high strutting "Hitozuma Shudan Boko Chishi Jiken M1-A". Besides the funky stuff, there is a wide variety of moods to choose from: rock, pop, blues/enka, a nice Fender Rhodes/soprano sax duet, even a full-on lushly scored tune by an orchestra (I'm assuming this is where the romantic in Roman Porno came from). Packaging is nice but not spectacular by Japanese standards which can be very lavish. The CD comes in a promo-still covered digipack case, a mini-fold out poster is also included which contains liner notes in Japanese about the collection as well as advertisements for the label's (Hotwax Trax) other releases.

A very solid collection of music for Japanese genre film fans, my only objection being that, clocking in at an average of 2:30 per track, I wish there were more included especially for the price, expect to pay $20-$25.

Sample some of the tracks here via Windows Media Player at Movie Grooves

Buy it here from Dusty Groove

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Catching Up Is Hard to Do

Well, here I am after yet another long hiatus, hoping that people haven't totally written this blog off. I had a really rough semester which ended a couple of weeks ago. For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to take three classes (grad school level, mind you), teach academic English, serve on the planning committee for a regional conference, be an officer on my department's student organization, in addition to working my regular job. Swamped doesn't even begin to describe the situation I was in.

But, it's all over (for now) and now I find myself with some free time to dedicate to catch up with my numerous hobbies including:

Books - I've gotten so many books in the past year that I've yet to even crack open: books about yakuza, Japanese culture and sociolinguistics, film, etc. that I really don't know where to start. At the moment, I'm finishing up Haruki Murakami's "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running", an interesting memoir that connects Murakami's writing and hobby of running.

Games - It's the holiday season when a million games come out, but I've only gotten a lot of older, cheaper ones because my PC has very modest specs. Despite that, I've been especially enjoying Left 4 Dead which I actually pre-ordered through Steam for the chance to play the early demo. L4D is basically a first-person shooter with a zombie (actually, 'infected' a la Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later") apocalypse theme played cooperatively. So far, I've clocked 50+ hours into the game, it's that good.

Movies - Another avalanche. I got many DVDs for the holidays, including several boxsets (Hitchcock, Amicus Films, Bava) so there's no shortage of stuff for me to watch.

Football - I wasn't able to catch many 49ers (my favorite team) games this season, maybe thankfully so, because of schoolwork. The playoffs have started, though, so even though the Niners are not in, there's plenty of great ball to watch. I'm a big fan of defense, so the fact that I can see the great D's of Baltimore, Minnesota, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh play is great for me.

Beer - I've become somewhat of a browser (brewser?) of beer and pick up random beers as I find them at stores and have accumulated a small stash to enjoy while also partaking in the above.

Blogging - I know that I've tried several times to get myself on a regular writing schedule and, if I didn't have school, I would feel a lot worse about not sticking to one. I'm rounding the proverbial corner at school, though, and I don't expect to be as busy this year as last so I hope to get here more often. And, if I don't, well that figures... ;) In any case, the first point of order is to finish the "Sinking Ship" story, the last post here.

In short, I'm certainly having a good break and holiday season and I hope everyone else is, too. As always, stay tuned and, as usual, thanks for checking this blog out.