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)