The first part in the live action La Blue Girl trilogy.
One of the great things about writing horror film reviews and, as a result, watching lots of horror films is that moment when you stare at the screen as the end credit roll and mutter to yourself, “What the hell did I just watch?”. This reaction can be generated as a result of disgust, hilarity, confusion, boredom, or just a general, mental assault from a combination of the above. La Blue Girl certainly ticks all four boxes to varying degrees as a sleazy yet amusing romp that is littered with jump cuts and out-stays its welcome a tad.
I’d like to get this out of the way as quickly as possibly; I love Japanese culture and spend a significant portion of my life immersing myself in it, whether that be cooking, watching films, collecting manga or fruitlessly trying to convince Mrs. Barnes that we need to go back in the summer. One thing that I’ve never really understood, however, is hentai. Hentai is (and I know I treading on delicate ground with a certain percentage of the populous) is pretty much adult-orientated, sexually explicit anime which can in itself be broken down into countless sub-categories. I kind of understand that this method of film-making allows certain loop-holes to be opened in an otherwise stringent approach to film censorship, it’s just not something that I’ve felt the need to expose myself to.
A few examples of hentai have broken out into mainstream western culture, such as the Urotsukidoji and La Blue Girl series (both of which contributed greatly to the popularity of the ‘tentacle-porn’ sub-genre), so my interest was piqued when I was asked to review a live action version of the latter. As always, I tried to read as little as possible about the film before watching so as to approach it with an open mind and, while it isn’t the greatest film ever, there are a few elements which I did enjoy.
La Blue Girl was created as a manga in 1989 by Maeda Toshio (who had created Urotsukidoji 3 years previous) and later went on to be adapted into several anime series before entering the world of live-action in 1994 as Injū Gakuen: Shikima-kai no gyakushū (roughly translated as Lewd Beast Academy: Revenge of the Sex Demon King) and directed by Yo Kobayashi. The story tells of two warring clans of ninjas; the Bido and Shikima clans. Rather than allow good to conquer evil, the Shikima clan performs a ritual that allows a single entity to cross over to Earth from the realm of the sex demons. Thankfully, two elite female warriors from the Bido clan, Miko and Miyu (played by Saya Hidaka and pinku eiga actress Megumi Takahashi), are around to stop the sinister Hanzaki (Masato Gunji) from having his filthy way with Miko’s friends.
La Blue Girl: Revenge of the Sex Demon King is somewhat typical of low-budget 90s film making in its look and feel and, to be honest, does come across as a labour of love by the director. The movie relies on practical effects which are mostly presented as slimy tentacles (that are definitely NOT penises! Honest!) and the gloopy glory of it all does add to the small amount of entertainment value. One of my biggest bugbears with La Blue Girl actually comes from the extensive use of slow motion. Now, I like a bit of slo-mo as much as the next person but I’m convinced that La Blue Girl would have had a runtime of much less than 60 minutes if Kobayashi had done away it. I found it extremely frustrating that every time the film picked up the pace, the slow motion jarred everything back to crawling speed again.
I’m going to struggle to comment on the delivery of the actresses and actors in La Blue Girl as, while the acting in general was not as bad as it could have been, the dialogue was dreadful in places. Is this the fault of the script writer or the English translator? I’m really not sure. But with classic snippets, such as “I will be a hero in the realm of the sex fiends with two Bido family women”, it’s hardly Shakespeare. Another thing that I found jarring was the continuity of the the plot and elements therein. Yes, I know I am probably missing the whole point of why this film was created but I’m not demanding a high-brow and thought-provoking web of sub-plots, I just want things to have some semblance of consistency. The main plot-hole in question is the effect that the sex demon Hanzaki has on Miko compared to her friend, Misaki. Nothing spells out my problems with this better than my original notes taken while watching the film:
Why is Miko still okay when she has had the sperm of Hanzaki while Misaki has instantly turned into some kind of super-sleepy, lesbian, sex-pest?
As I said, it’s not exactly Shakespeare. I won’t get on to the subject of how on Earth Miyu managed to change in the blink of an eye into a costume that would require a member of the general public to undertake a 2 years post-graduate degree in order to find the zip.
Anyway, one of the things that I did like about La Blue Girl was the portrayal of Hanzaki. Masato Gunji really did bring a great deal of menace to the part and his character stood out to me as the highlight of the acting. While he spent most of his screen times having non-consensual sex with teenage girls, during the times that his acting was able to shine he positively oozed with evil.
So there you have it, a Japanese, erotic B-movie at its most archetypal. I expected La Blue Girl to be dreadful (and, for the most part, it was) but there is entertainment to be had. It managed to keep my attention throughout, although there was a little bit of clock watching towards the end, and I enjoyed the silly, splodgy effects. The film wears its heart on its sleeve, so if you want to watch naked Japanese girls running away from slimy tentacles or grinding up against other naked Japanese girls then this would probably be an hour and ten minutes well spent. Me? I prefer a bit more substance with my Japanese horror.