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Issue #178 HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES September 22nd, 2003

Platonic Sex
(2001; Toho/Fuji Television Network/Watanabe Entertainment/Shogakukan)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Ready to take her own life by jumping off the school roof, young Aoi Kadokura (Saki Kagami) receives an e-mail message on her cell phone. It was meant for someone else but the sentiment expressed gives Aoi enough solace that she steps down the ledge. Having been gang-raped by some "friends" on her 17th birthday, the girl finds that her parents are totally unsympathetic and concerned only about what the neighbors think. Aoi leaves home and tries to get by on the streets. She finds more success as a club girl and is soon earning very handsome tips from middle-aged patrons. That does not come close to covering over 3 million yen in debts she has accumulated via designer brand shopping sprees, so Aoi reluctantly accepts the advice of her sleazy "manager" (Taishu Kase) and enters the adult video business on her 18th birthday. All the while, she stays in e-mail contact with Toshi (Joe Odagiri), the young bartender/club DJ who mistakenly sent her that message a year earlier. When the two finally hook up, the loneliness they have felt is finally alleviated. Toshi is extremely conscious of what others think, so Aoi borrows money from a "professional benefactor" (TOKYO RAIDERS' Hiroshi Abe) in order to break her five picture AV contract. However, this quick fix ultimately does little to ease the troubles ahead.

PLATONIC SEX is based on the autobiography of the same name by ex-AV star Ai Iijima and it is difficult to say how closely that bestseller really mirrors her life or how closely the movie adheres to either. However, like Masato Harada's BOUNCE KO GALS (1997), it manages to depict sordid subject matter without resorting to brazen exploitation (some nudity is shown on the set of an AV production but it is used to convey the unerotic nature of the shoot). The film's events occasionally seem a bit too pat and, while lovely, Toshihiko Sahashi's score is far from subtle but female director Masako Matsuura does successfully imbue the project with a welcome degree of sensitivity. First time actress Saki Kagami is remarkable as Aoi; she not only has the necessary look but also communicates volumes with her eyes and face. Even while the story touches on all of the adversities one would expect a girl in her situation to confront, Kagami still engages one's sympathy without being flagrant. Her performance is almost matched by Abe, whose unsavory eccentric derives great pleasure from seeing how people will lower themselves in pursuit of his money (he even goes to an orphanage and throws coins to watch the children scramble for them!). As cautionary tales go, PLATONIC SEX does not provide many new lessons in life but does offer another terse reminder of what an uphill battle Japanese women can face should they fail to adhere to societal expectations. Trivia note: according to the IMDB, a two part miniseries adaptation of the book by different personnel premiered on Japanese television four weeks before Matsuura's film debuted in theatres.

Cover art courtesy Edko.

Saki Kagami. Image courtesy Edko.

Hiroshi Abe (left) and Saki Kagami. Image courtesy Edko.
Edko #03-EDVD-06 (Hong Kong label)

Dolby Digital 5.1

Japanese Language

Optional Subtitles in English and Traditional Chinese

12 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With Clips

Enhanced for 16:9 Displays

Letterboxed (1.78:1)

Coded for Region 3 Only

NTSC Format

105 Minutes

Contains brief nudity, mild sexual content, mild sexual violence, and mature themes

DVD menu courtesy Edko.

Hong Kong: IIB

Aside from some unstable edges, the transfer (presumably identical to the Region 2 edition) looks excellent, with a crisp image and deep colors. The mix is suitably expansive during club sequences, but subtle during most of the running time, with subdued use of the surround channels. Toho's theatrical trailer (with Chinese and English subs burned on) and single page cast/director bios are included. No points to Edko for using the awful paper and plastic "snapper" packaging.

PLATONIC SEX is available at Poker Industries.

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