enpaku 早稲田大学演劇博物館


2 Rethinking Sexuality and Gender in Nikkatsu Roman Porno and Barazoku Films

  No review of the Japanese film industry would be complete without an examination of how gender and sexuality are depicted in pink films, the most notable of which are Nikkatsu Roman Porno (pornographic romances) and Barazoku films. In recent years, research relating to (the history of) the film industry has shown a greater focus on pink films, and in addition to analyzing the actual films, researchers have conducted interviews with those involved in filmmaking and analyzed non-film materials such as press sheets and production-related materials.
  At the Theatre Museum, we have also attempted to reconstruct a history of Japanese cinema focusing on pink films from two different approaches. First, for two years from 2018, a joint research team at our Collaborative Research Center for Theatre and Film surveyed and studied promotional materials for Nikkatsu Roman Porno in our archive (project name “Changes in the Studio System in Post-war Japanese Cinema, and the Actual situation”). For the Japanese film industry, which entered a period of decline from the early 1960s, the Nikkatsu Roman Porno films, produced by Nikkatsu from 1971 to 1988, were a survival strategy. While any history of the industry must properly respond to, and reflect on, criticism of the fact that pink films have exploited women sexually, at the same time, in this exhibition, based on the results of the Centre’s research, we would like to show both how Nikkatsu Roman Porno films talk about female sexuality and how women were involved in the production of these films, and not just as performers.
  Second, research at the Theatre Museum historically positioned the Barazoku films, which emerged at the beginning of the 1980s and were targeted mainly at gay men. In the same way that it has been suggested that Nikkatsu Roman Porno and other pink films aimed at heterosexual men exploit women sexually, Barazoku films have been accused of commoditizing homosexuals as a sexual fantasy. While it would be wrong to deny the validity of such criticism, we should remain aware that, by belittling the representation of homosexuality in the Barazoku films, such criticism risks obscuring it and minimizing its existence. Since the 2018 academic year, researchers at The Theatre Museum have been investigating the archive of the film director Satoru Kobayashi, who made Barazoku films, as well as many pink films aimed at heterosexuals. In Japan during the 1980s and 1990s, when there was deep prejudice against homosexuality, Barazoku films were a genre that allowed audiences to communally consider the desires and conflicts of homosexuals not depicted in commercial films—such as young homosexuals who wanted to have a family, interaction between generations, and HIV/AIDS. In this exhibition, we present some of Satoru Kobayashi’s archive materials to show the findings of this investigation.