Lemon HanazawaYuma AsamiMarieMari Yamaguchi
Ninja She-Devil
Medium: film
Year: 2006
Director: Yoshikazu Kato
Writer: Teru Oka
Keywords: boobs, historical, ninja
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Actor: Yuma Asami, Marie, Mari Yamaguchi, Lemon Hanazawa, Toji Yanagi, Yuya Matsuura, Naoki Oka, Tomohiro Okada
Format: 75 minutes
Url: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1764423/
Website category: J-sleaze
Review date: 22 July 2011
It's a Japanese pink film, although even that description needs ramping up a bit to convey the porn level. I'm not saying that we see actual sex, mind you. We don't. It's softcore. It's just that out of the film's 75-minute running time, a full thirty minutes is nothing but sex scenes.
I'll start by talking about this as a regular movie, which shouldn't take long. Given its non-porn running time of 45 minutes, including credits, what we have is basically a TV episode with no third act. Theoretically it's not bad, actually, and you could have made something worthwhile out of this storyline, but of course the cast and crew were concentrating on other areas. I'll run through the plot. Yuma Asami is a ninja in an era of Japanese history in which ninja had magical powers, e.g. teleportation, mind control and the ability to store a man's semen in your womb for seven days and then use it in a magical lesbian rite to get another woman pregnant. I'll let you guess which of those turns out to be most important.
Anyway, Asami is given an important mission. Hint: her brother is the wrong gender for it. She then has to trek across ancient Japan, battling enemy ninja, until she finds the woman who's to bear her master's heir. She finds her. The end.
Okay, it's not quite that simple. There are some men involved. There's Asami's brother (whom she loves) and a man in the village (Yuya Matsuura) whom she loves in a different way, yet they've never had sex together and she's never told him she's a ninja. (I'm a bit surprised by the later, since it's suggested that being a ninja is something you're born into and so you'd expect your fellow villagers to know you as "the ninja family". However I'm probably thinking too much about this. Maybe ninja really are that good at keeping their identities secret, or maybe Matsuura's stupid.) Anyway, the couple's first on-screen meeting involves Matsuura pulling Asami's breast out of her top, because that's how much he cares about her. Asami seems okay with this, but she still says no.
Anyway, the storyline makes good use of these men. There's death, loss, revenge and a surreal bit in the magical lesbian rite whereby two become four and suddenly the women are having sex with the men they're unable to be with. This could have been powerful if it hadn't looked so much like a top-shelf magazine.
As a production, it's not actually bad. It's just that it's also not trying very hard to be good. The acting is... okay. The fight scenes are better than you'd expect, i.e. they're not risible, although I never believed for a moment that the actors were really fighting. As for the costumes, they look fine if you don't mind the distraction value of Asami doing action scenes with no bra. Isn't that uncomfortable? Surely even in the 17th century you'd have strapped them down or something.
As for the cast, they perform their functions. I'd been assuming that Asami had been mis-cast, but in fact I'd been misled by the title. Obviously you'd never cast her as a Ninja She-Devil. She's a rather bland, passive girl who in Shimokita Glory Days was playing the bespectacled, shy bookworm. That was good casting. She worked well there. I have no objection to the lady and she seems like a nice person, but of the three main porn stars in this film, only one of them could be said to have screen presence. Asami is like human dough. Lemon Hanazawa is also disappointing, despite also being reasonably well known. No, the one I liked was Marie as a retired enemy ninja and I'd be happy to see her act again in proper films. She's got a bit of fire and spark about her.
However I was talking about Asami. She's not scary. She'll never be that, or indeed intimidating, badass or anything else you might associate with ninja. However it's built into the story that she's just doing her duty and as part of the price for acting as a walking sperm bank, her brother gets agreement from their lord that thereafter she be released from her ninja duties to live a normal life. In other words, she didn't choose this job. She was born into it. The fact that she's not natural ninja material could be seen as an interesting dramatic angle.
As for the men... well, who's watching them? However I did notice that they've chosen a surprisingly young, fit actor to play the dying lord who's has lived his life as hard as any thousand other men.
This is in no way whatsoever the worst movie I've seen. It's not even the worst Japanese movie I've seen in the past ten days, since even with thirty minutes of dead air it beats Battle in Outer Space into a cocked hat. The storyline is built from cliches and bits of other films, but the lesbian porn transformation is an imaginative emotional development and there are scenes that you could almost call dramatic. It's just that with this cast and this production, everything's only at best good enough. Asami's "should I commit suicide" scene is perfunctory, while I had to laugh at her scene of tragic vengeance. She's been captured and tied up by the enemy. A man she loves is tortured to death in front of her. Driven by grief (although this isn't particularly clear from Asami's performance), she uses her ninja magic to teleport out of her bonds, fight her captor and kill him. So far, so good. However why didn't she do that five minutes earlier?
I don't believe I've yet discussed the porn. It's mechanical. It's also being done by the clock. There's a ten-minute sex scene at the 0:10 minute mark, a five-minute sex scene at 0:30 and a fifteen-minute one at 0:51. None of them have dialogue and there's no reason why any of them couldn't have been any length.
Surprisingly, this is not a horrible movie. It's not even bad, really. It's better than I'd expected, although that's not saying much. However there's nothing remarkable about it and I can't say I'm particularly taken with Yuma Asami. Incidentally I wouldn't bother consulting the imdb on this one, since this is a sufficiently obscure film that the best one can say about the imdb page I saw is that it exists. They cite the wrong year, since 2009 is the copyright date of the English subtitled version rather than the original, while furthermore they're unaware that this is part of a Yoshikazu Kato series. The others include Twin Blades of the Ninja (Risa Kouda), Ninjaken: The Naked Sword (Kaede Matsushima) and I Was a Teenage Ninja (Saki Ninomiya). If you want to buy the DVDs, they've been released by Switchblade Pictures.
Incidentally, is it just me or is the film's premise contrived? Even if the heir-seeking lord really wasn't able to meet the required woman in person, couldn't he have done it into a little cup? That would have made for particularly niche porn, though.