Episode three of Japan’s controversial Angel Guts series sees a new director, Noboru Tanaka, taking the reigns and bringing Takashi Ishii’s horrible little manga to life. Nami is a reporter working for The Woman magazine, her story “Rape Victims: The Unexpurgated Report” takes her all over the place, harassing rape victims and essentially forcing them to tell their stories to add a little sizzling substance to her grubby report. The victims she meets vary a great deal - one has become a stripper in a nightclub, enacting simulated rape scenes - conversely, another has become a hermit living on the beach. But none of these are as strange as the one she’s about to meet.
Miya was driven mad by her experiences. It’s little wonder - her attacker, a psycho with a nasty medical fetish also managed to slice her open, leaving a grotesque scar that suggests that Miya should actually be dead - not your average game of doctors and nurses, is it? As she reminisces, a brief vision of intestines about to slip from her ghastly wound provides Nami’s most shocking scene and also precludes the movie’s finest moments - an atmospheric chase around a deserted hospital that brings back memories of good old fashioned slasher movies as Miya tries - and succeeds - to give Nami a taste of her own medicine.
Thrusting deep inside the whys, wherefores and do-you-really-cares of Angel Guts’ social relevance, it’s worth noting that Nami is the pluckiest fuckpiece so far - although not particularly likeable. In fact, that pluckiness comes across more as a bad attitude and it’s something of a perverse pleasure to suffer. But then her comeuppance is merely a vengeance OD for the viewer - for the short time she appears in the film, it would be right to say that her nemesis Miya is the heroine of Nami. Tanaka drags out the ending for so long - hurriedly introducing more plot twists into the movie’s final scenes than in the rest of the film itself - that the message, or what is presumably the message, becomes entirely meaningless. What could be seen as a fairly severe critique of media intrusion goes from serious thriller to daft horror and then degenerates into idiotic incoherence all in the space of ten minutes. At one point, Nami’s artistic merit seems to be running parallel with the talking mannequins of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ The Gruesome Twosome - added to pad out the film, one has to wonder about Tanaka’s motives in providing so many “new twists” to his movie.
Nami is perhaps the best I’ve seen so far - but that says virtually nothing. As a thriller it’s just too tedious, as drama it‘s just too nonsensical, and as an outlet for writer Ishii’s dodgy rape fantasies - which it presumably is - it’s all just too soft, too grey, just uncomfortably grubby - perhaps a little like Ishii‘s mouldiest undies festering away in some spunk-drenched porno booth. It’s OK I guess, but in the end it’s really just another entry in the rather banal Angel Guts series riding on the back of its quite undeserved reputation.
Aka Tenshi No Harawata: Nami, Tenshi No Harawata 3