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  Gushing Prayer Take That, Sex!
Year: 1971
Director: Masao Adachi
Stars: Aki Sasaki, Hiroshi Saito, Makiko Kim, Yuji Aoki, Shigenori Noda, Misaaki Hiraoka, Susumu Iwabuchi, Michio Akiyama, Ken Yoshizawa, Haruhiko Abegawa, Nagao Yokoshima, Akira Ishikawa, Hiroshi Nitta, Yoshiaki Makita, Takeo Suenaga, Tetsuo Osaga
Genre: Drama, SexBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Yasuko (Aki Sasaki) is a fifteen-year-old with a small circle of three friends who have been experimenting with sex, as they are determined to beat it, all its impulses and effects in society are something they no longer want anything to do with and will rise above if they have any say in the matter. But do they? As the two boys attempt to bring her to a new level of understanding by having sex with her, the other girl looks on, demanding to know how Yasuko feels, and she admits she has no strong sensations one way or the other...

Subtitled A 15-Year-Old Prostitute, Gushing Prayer belonged to the pinku eiga, or pink cinema line of movies with a sexual theme that emerged from Japan from the late nineteen-sixties onwards. These are often the black sheep of the country's movie industry, little publicised abroad though the offshoot of pinky violence at least could be released under the banner of action flicks, no matter the amount of sexual violence they presented. For their fans, this kind of material had to be sought out specifically, but it was there in manga comics, anime cartoons and live action.

However, while a lot of this was blatantly misogynistic in content, there were subversions inherent in the format, for a start, offering up sexual situations so starkly was an act against staid Japanese society in itself, hence the genres attracted filmmakers who would have trouble getting a job in the mainstream, sometimes thanks to their uncompromising and radical politics. Thus you should not be surprised to see political messages in these items, particularly around the time of the student uprising of the late sixties where the younger generation rebelled against the establishment.

You could argue there was plenty of misogyny in radical politics among those exponents who regarded sexual freedoms and permissiveness as giving them carte blanche to exploit the women in their lives, but Gushing Prayer was on the side of the teenage protagonist whose curiosity about matters carnal has led her to become pregnant. Her three friends are both fascinated someone their age could become a mother, and that she has no idea who the father is (one of her pals? Her teacher? Some other chance encounter?), which sees them holding Yasuko up as a figurehead of their not too well thought through social movement, one again and again they claim will "beat sex".

Exactly what they mean by that was not completely clear, especially when they seemed to be giving in to their libido more often than not, but it appeared to be beating the way in which sex was used as a tool to oppress and accuse them by the older generation. This generation gap was fully embraced by former radical director Masao Adachi, operating under the tutelage of one of the few women working behind the scenes in this style, producer Keiko Sato, which has latterly given her films more kudos as they are perceived to be smuggling intriguing messages into the material. It should be noted Gushing Prayer did tend to celebrate suicide as a reasonable method of hitting back, which is not recommended, and it closed on one of its occasional colour sequences of Yasuko seeing her troubles flushed away for now, but it was so dour that erotica seemed to be the very last thing on anyone's mind, unless you regarded the leading lady's failed attempts to suck her own left nipple erotic. Music by Masato Minami.

[Click here to watch on MUBI.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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