Shoujyo: An Adolescent

  • 2000
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Veteran Japanese character actor Eiji Okuda made his directing debut with this perversely Lolita-esque tale, based on a short story by Mikihiko Renjo, in which a deeply troubled 15-year-old (Mayu Ozawa) surrenders to an all-consuming passion for a lazy, corrupt, small-town cop old enough to be her father. Officer Tomokowa (Okuda) — "Tomo" to his friends...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Veteran Japanese character actor Eiji Okuda made his directing debut with this perversely Lolita-esque tale, based on a short story by Mikihiko Renjo, in which a deeply troubled 15-year-old (Mayu Ozawa) surrenders to an all-consuming passion for a lazy, corrupt, small-town cop old enough to be her father. Officer Tomokowa (Okuda) — "Tomo" to his friends — spends his days napping, eating, and drinking with his buddies, working petty scams and sleeping with bored housewives, until the day a lush-lipped, 15-year-old approaches him in a local diner where he's catching a nap and says, "Hey mister? Let's have sex." She makes him guess her name, claiming he's right when he gets to "Mayuko," and they go to a hotel together; he assumes she's a schoolgirl prostitute, and when he wakes up she's gone. It turns out that Mayuko isn't her name, and she's not part of the red-light underworld, though he turns it upside down in search of her. But fate brings them back together: Tomo finds her making up the corpse of a local pimp (the same pimp, as it happens, whom Tomo threatened when he was tossing the local brothels); "Mayuko" is actually named Yoko, and her grandfather, Syozo (Hideo Murota), owns the Sho-un-do funeral parlor. Tomo already knows Yoko's mentally-challenged brother, Sukemasa (Akira Shoji), who's lived with Syozo for some time; Yoko only moved to town a couple of moths earlier, after clashing repeatedly with her drunken, slutty mother, Yukie (Mari Natuski). Sukemasa is the least of the connections that bind Tomo and Yoko: Syozo is a master tattoo artist as well as an undertaker, and executed the elaborate one-winged phoenix design on Tomo's back, and Yukie was once Tomo's lover. In fact, she's the woman who broke Tomo's heart by reneging on her promise to get a complimentary phoenix tattoo. Suicide, child molestation, corruption, insanity and the faintest implication of incest are wound around the film's suggestion that the cure for modern-day alienation and anomie lies in embracing traditional Japanese culture, like ritual tattooing. But you could be forgiven for missing the thematic underpinnings amidst the long, fetishized sex scenes, including a sleazily disturbing flashback of the newly-widowed Yukie and a casual pick up shot in stark B&W smeared with glowing red.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Veteran Japanese character actor Eiji Okuda made his directing debut with this perversely Lolita-esque tale, based on a short story by Mikihiko Renjo, in which a deeply troubled 15-year-old (Mayu Ozawa) surrenders to an all-consuming passion for a lazy, co… (more)

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