Sometimes, when I’m lying, I say that I enjoy new experiences. Today was one of those times.
There’s literally no way to say this any simpler: I watched the wrong film.
Not that it makes a massive difference to the whole scheme of things, but I didn’t see the film that I thought I was watching. There’s no way to look at it without me looking pretty stupid. It all comes down to trying to navigate YouTube as a platform for watching J-Horror. When you don’t 100% know what you’re doing, or what the film looks like, you tend to make mistakes.
Basically, I watched a film called Ring: Kanzenban instead of watching Ringu, like I thought I was. I mean, I actually really enjoyed the film and thought it was great, but it literally was the wrong film. I am very grateful that, somehow, I ended up watching something else in the J-Horror Genre. I could go back, edit my last blog post, and pretend this never happened, but in all honesty, this may even be the best mistake I’ve ever made, and it makes everything so much more interesting.
Ring: Kanzenban was released in 1995, three years before the famous Ringu cult classic, and it is the most accurate to the book it was based on. I didn’t even know it was based on a book. The more you screw up, the more you discover, I guess.
(My other confession, before I continue, is that Twitter and I had a major disagreement, so I Snapchatted the entire affair instead.)
This film is over 20 years old, now, but it helped kickstart a series of movie remakes in an almost Godzilla-like way. There are three American films and a variety of films, manga, TV series, and books written about the same story.
I expected there to be massive amounts of gore, but what I saw was quite the opposite. There was very minimal gore. I think the most seen was a little bit of blood on each of the victims. I assumed there would be gore in the film, almost exclusively because I’d seen Akira, where there were 97 shades of red to accurately show all of the blood that they did. The films are more different than they are the same, in that one is filmed and the other is an animation. Because they both come from Japan, my brain linked the two and tied them together in a tight little bow. They’re similar in the same way Peppa PigPeppa Pig is like Kill Bill, I’ve come to realise. It’s just stupid.
The amount of sex, sexual references, and nudity parallels an American Comedy-Horror film Zombeavers. In both films, the severe lack of any plot or greatly interesting point results in ‘tits out for the boys’. I found this absolutely bizarre to see in a Japanese film, particularly one from 20+ years ago. It does not make sense that a female artist, Megumi Igarashi, in 2016 can be charged under obscenity laws for a 3D print of her vagina, whilst a 1995 film is totally fine to show the breasts of at least two women, and have countless scenes of nudity and rape.
Oh wait. Wait no. I understand – it took me a second. The women in the film are being exploited – one of them is shown having sex with her father, and is later almost raped, and the other dies while naked and having sex. Whereas Igarashi was in charge of her own body and had agency and autonomy. Nevermind. I get it. The entire world has a problem with hegemony and misogyny. Not just the west. I makes perfect sense. If this idea is the same across all of the J-Horror films I watch, I’m gonna be so mad.
I thought I might find something ‘cooler’ to look at than female representation in the film, but since the first scene, the feminist within burst out of my chest like in the movie Alien. (Side note: I watched the Alien movies when I was eight and I still can’t deal with horror films and it’s entirely their fault.)
Here’s a series of Feminist realisations and annoyances along the way:
In their book, Phillips and Stringer explain how throughout the 1950’s and the decades surrounding it, Japan tried to market their films to a Western audience, and it is only in more recent times that they’ve started to add back in their Japanese idiosyncrasies. I think that it is a residual part of Post-War Japan that helped this film come to fruition. Nudity, sex, and general physical contact is taboo in Japan and it is considered best to keep it at home and much less public than portrayed in the film. Through further research when I examine the next movie, I will look to see the levels of female nudity, and I might be able to come up with conclusive results as to whether Japan was directing these films towards a western audience, or if they were considering themselves ‘a part of the western world’ like Phillips and Stringer suggest.
The ending of Ring: Kanzenban was also very profound in the same way I found Gojira to be. While Gojira was more ‘don’t test nuclear weapons out. Like, let’s stop that drama’, Ring: Kanzenban had more of an undertone about how our decisions affect more than just ourselves, and can impact so many different people, in a ring of suffering. I am curious as to whether Japanese cinema often has an underlying message at the ends of their films, or if the first two I’ve watched just so happen to have them.