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THE JAPANESE WIFE NEXT DOOR (2004)
Published by David Carter on 2010/2/6 (15090 reads)
Directed by Yutaka Ikejima
Review by David Carter
Released by Pink Eiga
Running Time: 61 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: 2.0 Stereo Japanese/English Subtitles
Region Code: 1, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen
16:9 Enhanced: No
Special Features: Commentary track, image gallery, bios, interviews with director and star
Trailer Online: Yes
Short Version: Sexy and hilarious
The problem I find with most Pink films that come my way is that they are supposed to be sexy comedies but they fail to be humorous. Filmmakers usually get the sex part right but fall short of the mark when it comes to comedy. This can be for various reasons but it most often boils down to personal preference about what is or is not funny. These films tend to be sexist and sophomoric and are usually filled with broad slapstick gags; not exactly my cup of tea. That’s not to say that they are bad, just that I usually don’t find them amusing.
Therefore I was surprised when I found THE JAPANESE WIFE NEXT DOOR to be hilarious and surprisingly endearing. The film is the story of a lonely businessman, Takashi, who takes a chance and accepts a co-worker’s offer to join him at a singles mixer one night. To Takashi’s surprise, two gorgeous women practically throw themselves at him: the sweet and friendly Sakura and the wealthy and refined Ryoko. He is unable to decide which one he prefers but has that decision made for him when Sakura makes the first move and invites him to leave with her.
Six months later Takashi and Sakura are married. The newlyweds move in with Takashi’s father, grandfather and sister, and Sakura quits her job to become a housewife and take care of her new family. Everything is perfect except for one thing: Sakura is a nymphomaniac and Takashi is unable to keep up with her desires. Physically tired and now impotent, Takashi throws himself into his work just to get some rest. Sakura turns her attention to his family, seducing all three in short order. She believes that sex is healthy and should be shared (literally) among every member in the family and after she “convinces” them with her body, they all come around to her way of thinking. All of this is going on without Takashi’s knowledge because he has become so fixated on his career that he has essentially moved out to be closer to the office. He makes his mind up to divorce Sakura but when he returns home he finds that the rest of his family is going to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Director Ikejima and star Reiko Yamaguchi share the credit for making THE JAPANESE WIFE NEXT DOOR so enjoyable. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously-- a big plus – and the comedy and plot don’t grind to a halt as soon as clothes come off. Sakura is a liberated woman, a rare thing in Japanese erotica. Takashi’s sister even scolds her for behaving inappropriately and having too many “American” views. Sakura is sexually free, not sexually aggressive, and the film takes a much healthier view of sex than is typical for the genre. Instead of women groped against their will by lecherous males, THE JAPANESE WIFE NEXT DOOR places men and women on equal footing and presents sex as something to be enjoyed rather than endured. All of this is helped by Yamaguchi’s believable performance and perfect comic timing.
Pink Eiga has a winner on their hands with their DVD of THE JAPANESE WIFE NEXT DOOR. The disc is loaded with special features, including two well-done interviews and close to an hour’s worth of trailers. This is a fun film that presents a healthy attitude about sex in the type of bizarre way that one has come to expect from Pink films. There are lots of laughs, lots of sex and no sexist or exploitive elements to spoil the fun.
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