Sakuran (DVD) (Special Priced Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) DVD Region 2
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YesAsia Editorial Description
Brought to the brothels as a child, rebellious Kiyoha (Tsuchiya Anne) stands out even as a young girl, repeatedly talking back, challenging authority, and running away. Her brazen streak stays with her as she grows up to be a sassy straight-talking courtesan with a quick temper and a natural knack for her job. Taking her first patron at the age of 17, she hurls forward without looking back, as she fends off rivalries and rises to the top status of oiran. From the men who come in and out of her life - first love Sojiro (Narimiya Hiroki), brothel clerk Seiji (Ando Masanobu), wealthy samurai Kuranosuke (Shiina Kippei) - Kiyoha tastes hope, heartbreak, and that relentless quest for freedom. But like a goldfish, she is beautiful and prized only as long as she remains in the fishbowl.
|Product Title:||Sakuran (DVD) (Special Priced Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) 惡女花魁 (DVD) (英文字幕) (廉價版)(日本版) 恶女花魁 (DVD) (英文字幕) (廉价版)(日本版) さくらん (廉価版) Sakuran (DVD) (Special Priced Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version)|
|Artist Name(s):||Tsuchiya Anna | Kimura Yoshino | Shiina Kippei | Narimiya Hiroki | Kanno Miho | Koizumi Kyoko | Ando Masanobu | Nagase Masatoshi | Ishibashi Renji | Natsuki Mari | Minami | Sadanji Ichikawa 土屋安娜 | 木村佳乃 | 椎名桔平 | 成宮寬貴 | 菅野美穗 | 小泉今日子 | 安藤政信 | 永瀨正敏 | 石橋蓮司 | 夏木 Mari | 美波 | 市川左團次 Tsuchiya Anna | 木村佳乃 | 椎名桔平 | 成宫宽贵 | 菅野美穗 | 小泉今日子 | 安藤政信 | 永濑正敏 | 石桥莲司 | 夏木 Mari | 美波 | 市川左团次 土屋アンナ | 木村佳乃 | 椎名桔平 | 成宮寛貴 | 菅野美穂 | 小泉今日子 | 安藤政信 | 永瀬正敏 | 石橋蓮司 | 夏木マリ | 美波 | 市川左團次 Tsuchiya Anna | Kimura Yoshino | Shiina Kippei | Narimiya Hiroki | Kanno Miho | Koizumi Kyoko | Ando Masanobu | Nagase Masatoshi | Ishibashi Renji | Natsuki Mari | Minami | Sadanji Ichikawa|
|Director:||Ninagawa Mika 蜷川實花 蜷川实花 蜷川実花 Ninagawa Mika|
|Publisher Product Code:||TCED-4248|
|Place of Origin:||Japan|
|Region Code:||2 - Japan, Europe, South Africa, Greenland and the Middle East (including Egypt) What is it?|
|Shipment Unit:||1 What is it?|
|YesAsia Catalog No.:||1069693802|
土屋アンナ / 椎名桔平 / 成宮寛貴 / 蜷川実花 (監督) / 安野モヨコ (原作) / 椎名林檎 (音楽)
製作国 : 日本 (Japan)
公開年 : 2007
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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features
Professional Review of "Sakuran (DVD) (Special Priced Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version)"
This professional review refers to Sakuran (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version)
Prostitution: The oldest profession in the world. Every country has its own laws (or not) regarding this infamous art, and every culture has been affected and altered to a certain extent by the men and women who are willing to ply their trade. At its grass roots, prostitution is a very unglamourous, perhaps miserable affair; but in some countries prostitutes were once the idols of their time. This is perhaps true no more than in Japan during the Edo era, when the Tokugawa regime decided to clean up its city centres by establishing walled-in entertainment districts on the outskirts of all the major cities. Within these walls, human desire would run wild, and prostitution became so ritualised that it became a pseudo-heirarchal system where the courtesans with the greatest beauty, most refined elegance, and superior intellect could rise up the ranks and become the oiran - the head prostitute of each brothel. These oiran were essentially the supermodels of their day, the most glamorous and sophisticated beauties, and they could even dictate the fashion trends of the whole nation, such was the influence of these queens of the pleasure quarters.
Sakuran tells the story of a tenacious young girl who is sold to the Tamagikuya brothel by her mother and reluctantly rises up the ranks to become known as one of the greatest oirans in the district of Yoshiwara. As soon as the Tamagikuya owns her, they give her the name Kiyoha and put her under the wing of the current oiran, Shiho. Shiho pokes fun at the rather tomboyish young girl and as soon as the opportunity presents itself, Kiyoha makes a run for it, but she is eventually chased down at the local shrine by one of Tamagikuya's male attendants, Seiji. There she witnesses cherry blossom leaves - her one overriding memory from the outside world - that have been blown into the district by the wind, and laments to Seiji that there are no sakura trees within the walls of Yoshiwara. In response Seiji points out that the withered old tree that stands on the shrine grounds is in fact a sakura tree, and he vows that if the tree ever blossoms he will take her away from the district. Kiyoha's reply is to stubbornly claim she will escape on her own when such an event occurs.
Hated by the other young girls at the Tamagikuya because she refuses to obey the rules, Kiyoha eventually begins to learn the "tricks of the trade" after being carefully manipulated by Shohi, who soon leaves the brothel after a rich merchant takes her for his wife. By her late teens Kiyoha is put to work as a prostitute and quickly garners the affections of the townsmen who all go giddy in her presence. This in turn upsets Shohi's oiran successor, Takao - who is in a doomed relationship with a poor artist - and a rivalry is established. Eventually Kiyoha falls in love with a kind unassuming young man named Shouji, but he's not quite the man he makes himself to be and their relationship affects Kiyoha's performance with other clients. This is just one obstacle amongst many on Kiyoshi's path to becoming oiran of the Tamagikuya.
The first thing that strikes you when sitting down to watch Mika Ninagawa's directorial debut is that she's clearly completely unconcerned with painting a realistic portrait of the pleasure quarters of old and the courtesans, entertainers, and customers that frequented them. Instead Ninagawa has chosen to not so much remain faithful to Sakuran's comic book roots, but amplify the visuals in an impressionistic explosion of pop art. A popular photographer who has worked for world famous magazines like Vogue and Esquire, Ninagawa has successfully managed to bring her distinctive style into the medium of moving pictures, as every frame of Sakuran is an opulent display of art and colour. Vivid red colour schemes have commonly been prevalent in her photography work and they're almost omnipresent in Sakuran, with the pleasure quarter of Yoshiwara transformed into a crimson landscape by searing red lanterns. Inside the Tamagikuya are bright displays of every bold colour you can think of: reds, greens, yellows, violets, and just about every surface in the building have some form of gorgeous artwork adorning them. Likewise the courtesans' kimonos and hairstyles are excessively extravagant, looking like a whole team of art designers have worked on each one. It's all a far cry from how these brothels and courtesans would have looked in the real world, but perhaps Ninagawa is onto something here - after all today's filmgoers have become a hell of a lot more accustomed to bold displays of colour in both their environment and art. So, maybe the only way you can truly convey just how glamourous these pleasure quarters and courtesans would have appeared to the average customer is to really ramp up the style. Either way, it works - and purely on style alone Sakuran definitely engages throughout its 110 minute runtime.
It's a good job as well, because Ninagawa is working from a script that is every bit as bland as the visuals are colourful. Sakuran gives us very little insight into the world of the oiran, instead it just plugs away at the same old tired story of someone with innate talent in a chosen field rebelliously rising through the ranks and refusing to conform along the way. This has been told so many times within the film and television industries of Japan that it has gone beyond cliché, it's become rote! Sakuran goes right through all the usual checkpoints. Cruel but ultimately kind mentor? Check! Older woman in a doomed relationship who takes out her frustrations on the more beautiful and talented lead? Check! Handsome man who courts and seduces female lead but ultimately turns out to be a snake? Check! Handsome man who is kind hearted and been helping female lead from the sidelines throughout her life? Check! There is a genuine lack of inspiration here, and the problem wouldn't have been compounded so much if the characters at least had some life in them, but they're every bit as vapid as the plot.
The men are given a rawer deal than the women. The two love interests, Soujiro and Seiji, are both dichotomous individuals. Soujiro pretends to be a kind hearted, naïve young man to the courtesans at night, but ultimately has little interest in the women beyond soliciting their services. Seiji acts as a brotherly figure to Kiyoha, always there to dispense advice and moral support when she needs him, yet he is working as a male attendant in the brothel. This is far from an ethical career, and it is he who is constantly foiling Kiyoha's escape plans. Despite these contradictions, Ninagawa never explores the darker side of these two characters. In Soujiro's case that's not so important, but Seiji is a role that's crying out for something to make him stand out. It doesn't help that the men cast in these roles, Hiroki Narimiya and Masanobu Ando, are likeable but rather prosaic actors; both roles need someone who can bring a bit of life to them. Masatoshi Nagase and Kippei Shiina are two better character actors, but they're left floundering in the under-developed roles of the tortured artist boyfriend of oiran Takao, Mitsunobu, and Kiyoha's rich samurai suitor, Kuronosuke. The women have a little more life in them, but they're all cardboard clichés. The standout example is oiran Takao, whose resentment of Kiyoha is fuelled by the fact she fell for a poor nonchalant artist who could never afford to buy her out of the brothel. Yoshino Kimura plays her quite broadly and appears to be enjoying herself. Even Kiyoha herself is little more than a precocious madam whose aggression towards her fellow courtesans is matched by her disdain for her upper-class clientele.
I got the impression whilst watching Sakuran that Ninagawa has been influenced to a certain degree by directors like Seijun Suzuki, Kon Ichikawa, and by opening the film with a rapid fire montage sequence showing future events, I'd add Takashi Miike to the list. However, Ninagawa doesn't approach the material with the same level of depth or subtext as these directors would. About the only recurring symbolic item we do get are the frequent shots of fantail goldfish (another trademark from her photography career), which in case you can't figure out their meaning, is blatantly explained to the viewer when Shohi lectures Kiyoha after knocking a goldfish out of its bowl that: "Put a goldfish in a river and you get a carp. They only stay beautiful in their bowl!". Perhaps Ninagawa's most inspired decision beyond the aesthetics of the film was in casting Anna Tsuchiya in the role of Kiyoha, because aside from the physical resemblance Tsuchiya has to the original comic book character design of Kiyoha, her own life mirrors that of her role. Tsuchiya was scouted for a career as a model from a young age and has now risen to the top of the music and film industry to boot. Plus, the fact that at the tender age of 23 she's already got a failed marriage and child behind her would suggest a high level of rebellion against these heavily produced and manufactured industries. What a shame then that these obvious parallels between the courtesans of the Edo era with the idols of modern day Japan are not explored more completely.
Ultimately, watching Sakuran is like owning a beautiful sleek sports car with a 1.6l engine. Sure it makes a strong visual statement and provides a comfortable, enjoyable ride; but you're always aware that it doesn't have enough horsepower to truly exhilarate.
Optional English subtitles are included, with no spelling or grammatical errors that I can recall.
by Matt Shingleton - DVD Times
Customer Review of "Sakuran (DVD) (Special Priced Edition) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version)"
See all my reviews
August 5, 2021
Life in the pleasure quarter
A young girl is sold to the owners of a house of ill repute, where she is given the unglamorous name of Kiyoha. From her childhood Kiyoha is rebellious, refusing to resign herself to spending her life in those tawdry surroundings. Her caustic attitude makes her disliked within the house, but when she becomes old enough to serve as a courtesan (at which time she becomes played by Tsuchiya Anna), customers strangely are drawn to her. Indeed, after the murder of the house's top courtesan, Kiyoha is promoted to that position.
Once she becomes the house's top attraction, she draws the attention of a wealthy samurai who wishes to wed her. Has Kiyoha finally found her way out of the world she detests?
First-time director Ninagawa Mika saturates the screen with an explosion of color; the film always is a treat for the eyes. Ninagawa frequently features goldfish in her imagery, finding in them a metaphor for the life of the courtesan. The film's story arc, drawn from the manga by Anna Moyoco, is compelling. However, as with the manga, Kiyoha -- the central character -- is an icy personality who can be hard to relate to. Her essential coldness makes her moments of human joy and despair come as something of a surprise.
For me, the film's biggest flaw is the adoption of the rock music of Shiina Ringo for its soundtrack. (I write as a big fan of Ms. Shiina's music.) The use of this contemporary rock music, so inauthentic for the era depicted in the film, is a constant reminder that we are watching a movie, that these are actors performing parts on a film set, not real people immersed in a real drama. The music prevents the viewer from becoming fully engaged. Nonetheless, for the originality of its look and the power of its story, I can recommend 'Sakuran' for mature audiences.