top of page

The Naked Director

I really enjoyed The Naked Director (全裸監督) and kind of binged its eight episodes on Netflix over a couple days. Released in August (2019), the series (co-directed by Masaharu Take) felt fresh in the way it melded genres (comedy, porn, drama, melodrama, gangster, biography) and pokes fun at facets of Japanese society (mosaic blurring of the genitals in porn, reverence for the emperor, AV otaku culture). The genres clash at times, too, which caught me off guard more than once, like those super serious scenes with Koyuki Kato followed by the hilarious and near slapstick bits.

The Naked Director is based on the real-life story of Toru Muranishi, a porn film director who eventually became known in Japan as the Emperor of Porn. The series focuses on his rise (and many stumbles) to the top, beginning with selling encyclopedias in Sapporo and then moving on to the business of plastic-wrapped pornographic magazines, or binibon in Japanese, and then upwards into the porn industry with an office in Kabukicho.

Jun Kunimura and Lily Franky give strong performances, and most of the acting, except for some of what the non-Japanese actors deliver, is fairly solid. There's a scene that didn't fit in with the rest of it, though—the one in which Kunimura's character, a yakuza boss named Furuya, takes Shinnosuke Mitsushima's character, who's Muranishi's business partner, down into a dank Kabukicho cellar. Three women are chained to the floor and begging for methamphetamine, and Furuya explains they regularly take girls who've lost their way, get them hooked on the drug, and then "break them in" before selling them. Then a yak subordinate proceeds to rape one, at the behest of Furuya, who next stabs the younger, tattooed underling in the back and right out through the chest. It seems we're supposed to like this baddie, Furuya, to some extent by the end of the series, so I'm not sure why the violent scene was included. Was it to explain in retrospect why Mitsushima's character later uses heroin (to numb himself against PTSD) and steals the uncensored films? But it's brutally incongruous, even with all the genre mixing.

I was thrilled to see Shinjuku Tiger make a brief appearance (not the real guy but a man in a tiger mask and on his bicycle delivering newspapers). I used to see this guy every few days in the 90s and as recently as about a decade ago. I wonder if he's still around.

The real Toru Muranishi
The real Toru Muranishi

Oishi Bentoooo!


bottom of page