Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Naked Seven 40 Years On

I wasn't quite old enough to see Sengoku Rokku Nayate no Onnatachi (aka The Naked Seven) when it first came out towards the end of 1972.  They weren't much on checking IDs back in those days but it wouldn't have mattered because the film didn't make it to arthouse theaters in the US until later.

Sengoku Rokku Nayate no Onnatachi, Nikkatsu, 1972
I can't remember the year I saw it but I think I read somewhere that it arrived on US shores maybe around 1974 (don't quote me on that). I know where I was living at the time but I don't remember the name of the theater. I just know that I saw the ad in the paper and figured that, since this was a Japanese adult flick, it just might have some bondage in it.

I was right, but just barely.

The film represents a couple of firsts for me: it was the first time I'd seen that good ol' Nikkatsu logo (which probably meant nothing to me at the time) and it was the first time I'd seen how the Japanese went about censoring that mysterious zone located somewhere between the navel and the kneecaps.

English title: The Naked Seven, Nikkatsu, 1972
Now, there are various ways of doing this; the standard AV way is to cover the offending parts with a neurotic mosaic pattern. More polished films tend to avoid the area altogether or have some object conveniently in the way. When that's not possible, a little fogging is applied.

Out on DVD
So how did they go about censoring The Naked Seven? By inserting  black frames for as long as necessary! Correct. The whole screen went completely black until the scene changed enough that we could start watching the movie again.

This is the part I remember most about this film; the ruckus it caused in the theater when the patrons were denied their God-given right to see a Japanese girl's pubic hair. Not that a riot was about to break out; more like, "Aah, that's lame!" although I don't believe that word was in vogue at the time.

This isn't meant to be a proper review of the film. I was quite bored by it on second watching to be honest. As I recall, there was only one bondage scene although that was worth the price of admission -- 40 years ago.

This film had seven female protagonists:

Tanaka Mari
Tsuzuki Keiko
Yamashina Yuri
Munakata Sho
Oyama Setsuko
Shima Sayori
Aikawa Keiko

One of them, I'm not sure which, gets captured, stripped and hung by her wrists.

Now we've reached the danger zone and the screen goes completely black until we are once again out of the woods. I was going to put a black frame here but...just use your imagination.

At this point we might be safe but our dangling heroine certainly is not.

I don't know if this is Yamashina Yuri (third on the list) or not but I wouldn't be surprised if it is. I gave her a little background check and came up with this lengthy filmography.

This site shows her career stretching from 1972 to 1982 and that she appeared in a ton of softcore sex films, including such bondage goodies as Whip and Rose (1975) and Dan Oniroku's Rope and Skin (1979). 

Another filmography for Ms. Yamashina indicates she was active for a bit longer, about 12 years. She appeared regularly on television concurrent with her frequent forays into the world of Nikkatsu sex flicks.

We can see from The Naked Seven (and many other films if you've been paying attention) that it doesn't have to be a bondage movie to have at least one juicy bondage scene in it.

Nureta Koya wo Hashire, Nikkatsu, 1973
Further proof is the 1973 Nikkatsu film, Nureta Koya wo Hashire (the English translation makes no sense) which Ms. Yamashina starred in. I'm pretty sure that's her up there all naked and helpless. The photo, by the way, comes courtesy of this blog.

Forty years on, The Naked Seven has stood the test of time. It has been released on DVD in Japan and the same goes for this other flick Yamashina Yuri starred in.

For her part, Ms.Yamashina is 58 years young at the time of this writing but will turn 59 later this month. Originally from Akita Prefecture, she dropped out of high school and made a beeline for Tokyo, not unlike the proverbial Iowa farm girl with a beat-up suitcase and a bus ticket to Hollywood.

I wonder what she's doing now?

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  1. Where can I purchase this DVD The Naked Seven?

  2. There are a few names in the US that handle some of these golden oldies from Japan but I don't follow them (and don't have the names handy) and don't know if they ever imported this title.

    I'm not even finding it on Amazon Japan at the moment although DMM seems to be selling it:

    Don't know about DMM but many companies won't ship overseas.

    Sometimes a seller can be found on Yahoo Auction Japan who will though (or so I hear).

    1. Thanks for the info. I might be wrong on this, but I understand that the original title for this movie was called NAKED, FREE FOR ALL and it was rated X way back then.