Bakushi Explores Lives of Rope Masters
Before I get started with Bakushi, there's some catching up to do.
I hadn't really planned to allow this much time to go by between posts -- just worked out that way. Summer is always a bitch in this part of Japan and it was just too tempting to stay in air conditioned comfort than go out and snoop around for news. Even a trip to the local video store was a sweaty, uncomfortable task (the store closest to me ain't that close).
I did get together with this young lady for tonkatsu and some drinks at a nice bar. She complained that this summer was not hot enough for her! True, it was a bit cooler this summer than usual but it still had me sweating like a pig in a sauna. But she thrives in the humidity.....and I shrivel.
The bar was just around the corner from the tonkatsu place. We'd tried another place but it was jam packed. They sat us in front on tall, uncomfortable chairs. Plus, we were near the trash receptacles. This bothered her more than it did me. But my butt was getting numb so we we left and found a much better place.
We walked downstairs into a dark, cool subterranean watering hole. The staff were all smiles. There was only one other guy there drinking when we arrived. I took the "gunfighter's" seat. This is the seat where the highest ranking samurai would sit as well. That way, if attackers approached, the lower ranking samurai would take care of them, or be the first to die.
The place had plush, velvety bench seats, not round wood seats half the size of my ass. I commented that this place looked almost like an SM club. She agreed.
Speaking of asses, as we left, the lady went ahead of me up the stairs. I had a long and satisfying view of that tight, shapely ass, swaying side to side in tight black pants. She is built like an Olympic athlete.
As I said, she went first.
In the West, this is a chivalrous act. If the lady were to stumble, I would be there to catch her. In the East, she goes first to fend off the initial attack. Gives me time to draw my sword and maybe save my own neck.
One other bit of news: Esinem has started a forum with co-conspirator Harper. Now that I think about it, there are various ways of getting information out over the interwebs: blogs, groups, forums and now this tweet thingy. I still haven't figured out this last one. Have I missed any?
They're all similar but also different in their way -- some pluses and minuses, I suppose. But it's nice to have all these choices.
Oh, here it is: ForumBondage.
It's been cooling down nicely so I made my trek to the local video emporium. They had a special: Five DVDs for a week (not the latest titles) for only 1,000 yen. So I came away with my five movies, one of which was Bakushi. Finally! Only a year after it came out.
Overall, I thought this was a very worthwhile disc to watch but it's one of those your mileage may vary situations. If you don't understand Japanese, and your disc has no subtitles, you may be disappointed. I'm sure the essence of the work is in the interviews with the three featured bakushi: Nureki Chimuo, Arisue Go and Yukimura Haruki.
One of the reviews on Amazon asked the question: Who is this movie for? It's a good question because, as the reviewer said, if you're interested in seeing flesh, there are thousands of other videos on the market infinitely more satisfying.
I agree with that. Not that there isn't any flesh to be seen in Bakushi. There is, but it's sandwiched in between the interviews of three of the most famous rope artists living today.
As a result, the tying scenes take precious time away from what could have been more comprehensive interviews. The interviews take time away from the tying scenes which aren't really on a par with a movie dedicated to this activity.
Still, I think the director, Ryuichi Hiroki, did a pretty good job with this. Sure, it would have been better if he had done a documentary on just one master at a time rather than trying to squeeze three into one film, but that's what he chose to do and anyone seriously interested in shibari should appreciate his efforts. Not to jerk off to -- to enter the minds, if only briefly, of three great masters as well as the models who willingly submit to the rope.
Speaking of models, they included: Saotome Hiromi (my personal favorite), Sumire, Uzuki Taeko and one other whose name I don't know.
The biggest complaint I might make about Bakushi is the technical quality. I once asked someone who had seen it in an actual movie theater how it looked. He said he thought it looked pretty good. Whoa! That's hard to believe.
This thing was obviously shot on miniDV. DV has very low resolution and, while it has been blown up before and shown in theaters, I've never heard anyone say it looked any good.
I don't know why it wasn't at least shot in high definition. They basically used consumer gear to shoot this, or prosumer, if you like. You can get high def gear these days for cheaper than the cameras they used and it looks better. My uneducated guess is that the cameramen are using gear they paid a lot of money for and don't want to switch over yet.
I just know this: I've shot stuff using the HDV format (laughed at by some), dumbed it down to DVD resolution, and it looked quite nice. Better than Bakushi.
The camera work is pretty sloppy in places. Yes, I know a lot of people making documentaries these days are going for the "you are there", shaky camera look. If you really don't know what you're doing (and let's face it, most people don't), it comes off looking gimmicky.
I didn't get that impression with Bakushi, though. It just looked like sloppy camera work.
There was a gimmick purposely employed, one that really gets on my tits. For some reason, someone thought it would be a good idea to put some, if not all, the interview footage in black and white. You see, switching to black and white for no reason whatsoever makes you an edgy maverick, an artiste, an avant-garde filmmaker.
Anyway, having got that off my chest, I'll give Bakushi three stars out of a possible five (no erect cocks this time as it isn't that kind of movie).
This is a documentary that needed to be made. It's not perfect but it deserves credit for giving us a glimpse at, as the blurb in English says, "the incredible lives of rope masters."
I hope there are more. There should be more. And any future documentary will benefit from the fairly strong foundation put down by Bakushi.
The DVD is available here.