Original title: Onna no kappa
Directed by: Shinji Imaoka
You can stop with the Hentai jokes as of now. From here on it’s all Kappa! The Japanese water spirit, renown for being malicious troublemakers, with a bag of tricks ranging from breaking wind, peeking up women’s skirts, pulling kids into the water, rape and drowning people. Keep a cucumber handy as they are addicted to the vegetable, and tossing it in its direction could be what gives you the extra minute to escape the claws of the Kappa.
You may have seen him before in woodprints of the Edo period, or as the lurky turtle monster in Kimiyoshi Yasuda’s and Yoshiyuki Kuroda’s Yokai movies of the late 60’s, possibly even in Takashi Mike’s Yôkai daisenô (The Great Yokai War) 2005 … but you have never seen him like this. Stop what you are doing and come meet Kappa… you won’t regret it.
But back to Imaoka, who is considered part of the “Seven Lucky Gods of Pink” circle, and like most of the people working in Japanese genre cinema spent several years working for one mentor. Imaoka’s mentor was the great Hisayasu Satō, which makes him an interesting name in my book. But where Satō holds a more voyeuristic and rough approach to the pink themes, Imaoka tends to take the themes lighter, coming at the genre with a more comedic angle where the sex scenes not necessarily are the main focus. He may have alienated a lot of Pinku viewers with his restrained approach, but he’s gained a lot of acclaim from critics and even won the Best Director Award at the Pink Grand Prix. One can see why critics would favour them, as Imaoka’s movies frequently have a serious emotional theme from which his movies build off. It’s not rare to find characters stuck in the rut of convenience and every day routine whilst yearning for something else that they at one point in time gave up on.