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Film / Japanese Summer: Double Suicide

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Japanese Summer: Double Suicide is a 1967 film by Nagisa Oshima.

An 18-year-old nymphomaniac girl named Nejiko is wandering around a city, presumably Tokyo, looking for a man to have sex with. Any man, really. She gets excited when a troop of soldiers pass by, but they march away. Right after that, however, she meets a deserter from the army named Otoko. Nejiko appeals to Otoko to screw her, but his thoughts are elsewhere. He wants to die, but rather than kill himself, he wants someone else to kill him so he can see himself in his killer's eyes.

It's that kind of movie.

Nejiko and Otoko somehow make their way to what looks like a dried-out riverbed. Nejiko has taken off her pants and is unsuccessfully appealing to Otoko to bang her when a group of gangsters arrives. They dig up a cache of weapons hidden in the riverbed. Then, apparently because Nejiko and Otoko have seen too much, the gangsters take them to a hidden lair. In the basement lair, the yakuza have assembled a bunch of cutthroats, who are waiting to fight another, rival group of gangsters. The combatants waiting in the underground lair include a fat guy in a loincloth who loves stabbing people, an older fellow with a gun who gets all philosophical about death, and other weirdos. This odd mix gets odder when the group is joined by a fresh-faced young man in a school vest who enters the compound to get a gun, because he really, really wants to kill people. Oh, and outside the compound, there are reports of a foreigner with a sniper rifle who is roaming around murdering strangers at random.

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Tropes:

  • Big Breast Pride: Nejiko has a curvaceous, voluptuous figure. She brags about her 40-inch bust. (See Most Writers Are Male below.)
  • Chiaroscuro: The basement lair, when our protagonists first enter it, lit only by the light from the door.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Every single transmission broadcast by the basement TV is either about the gangs of armed hoodlums (that is, the gang in the basement), or the American sniper killing folks at random.
  • Death Seeker: Otoko, looking for someone to kill him, and having surprising difficulty in doing so, considering how he's stuck in a confined space with a bunch of heavily armed murderers.
  • Dwindling Party: After the weapons are broken out of the box, the thugs in the basement start dying off. Several of them kill each other off, some out of pure boredom. Those who are remaining get picked off one by one in the final shootout after joining the sniper.
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  • Eagleland: There is an obvious and very dim view of American culture. News reports cite the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas and American race riots. And the psycho shooting people in downtown Tokyo is American.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: An unusually long tracking shot for Japanese cinema of the era, following Otoko and Nejiko as they are marched into the gangster compound. Nearly three minutes.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The very first scene has Nejiko, in a public restroom, upbraiding the workers who are there painting over the obscene graffiti that she herself made.
  • For the Evulz:
    • One criminal gang has assembled some cutthroats in a basement, for the purpose of fighting another yakuza gang. But there's no goal to the fighting. One participant specifically says "It's not war, it's killing!"
    • And then there's the young clean-cut man in the school vest who sneaks into the yakuza compound for the express purpose of getting a gun to shoot people with. And it doesn't matter who; he shoots a couple of the people in the basement, he shoots two soldiers at a guard post in the street.
    • When the gang makes their way to the American sniper, they ask him why he is shooting random strangers with a high-powered rifle. All he can say in answer is "I'm twenty years old." This forms a bond between them as they all (except for Otoko) tell them their ages, and they all wind up fighting the cops together.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: One of the hoodlums, the one they call "Television" because he was tinkering with the TV, betrays them. He shoots the American sniper In the Back, waves a white handkerchief, and advances towards the soldiers at the perimeter. Otoko, who has been acting like a Thousand-Yard Stare Shell-Shocked Veteran for the whole movie, then picks up a gun and shoots Television in the back. That is what finally snaps him out of his fugue and enables him to have sex with Nejiko. He has sex with her right there out in the open with bullets flying and corpses scattered all around. And Nejiko, who said that she didn't get any satisfaction out of the three dudes who humped her in the basement, has an orgasm this time.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: When they finally bust open the crate full of weapons, everybody else gets rifles and guns, but the fat guy in the loincloth who's a Knife Nut insists on the katanas and gets them.
  • Knife Nut: The fat guy in the loincloth, who talks calmly and placidly about how much he likes murder and specifically how much he enjoys stabbing people.
  • Most Writers Are Male: The script makes the time-honored error of male writers everywhere, when Nejiko brags about her 40-inch bust. When giving out a woman's measurement in inches, the number refers to the measurement around the rib cage under the breasts. The size of a woman's breasts are measured in cups; a busty woman like Nejiko would probably be a D or DD cup.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Curvaceous Nejiko, who spends the whole movie scantily clad or semi-naked.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Lee Harvey Oswald and Dallas are mentioned repeatedly, but when we finally meet the American sniper, he's an obvious clone of Charles Whitman, who killed 16 people with a sniper rifle from the top of the main tower at the University of Texas.
  • Plot Tumor: The TV reports of the American sniper shooting random strangers downtown, which the goons in the basement speculate about. As it happens, the fight they were supposed to have with the rival gang never comes off, as the gang leaders got arrested and all the other yakuza scattered. The third act has them finally leaving the lair and going to find the sniper.
  • Psycho for Hire: The fat guy in the loincloth, who talks about how he really loves murder and especially enjoys stabbing people. When Otoko and Nejiko arrive he is tied up out of fear that he'll butcher the other combatants.
  • Really Gets Around: Nejiko really gets around. She asks the men in the basement lair to screw her, says she doesn't care who, and says she'll do it right in front of everybody. After repeatedly being frustrated she finally gets three of the gangsters to bonk her, but says it was unfulfilling.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Nejiko's name sounds like neji, "screw" with the feminine suffix -ko, "girl". She's a nymphomaniac, or a girl who screws. Then there is Otoko, whose name can literally just mean "man."
  • Surrealism: Quite a bit. Somehow the painters covering up Nejiko's graffiti leave a Nejiko-shaped outline on the wall where she was standing. Buddhist monks are circling a drawing of two people on the street, for no reason. The basement lair is oddly shaped, with what looks like an altar in the middle from which a spring of water spouts. When the yakuza bring the TV down into the lair, they do it with ridiculous ceremony, as a dude wearing white gloves carries the TV on a tray. And why do they bring a TV down to a bunch of goons in the basement anyway?
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: No exposition is wasted to explain why Otoko wants to die, but he's obviously in despair, considering how often he gives the Thousand Yard Stare.
  • Title Drop: When Nejiko is crawling over Otoko trying to get him to have sex with her, she says they'll die together, and says "It's a double suicide." He says the same thing to her as the last line of the movie, as they finally are having sex during the climactic shootout. And a Japanese newscast describes a "Japanese summer" that is marred by violence like the race riots in America.
  • Together in Death: After Otoko and Nejiko finally have sex as the soldiers are closing in, she says how wonderful it is that they'll die together.
  • Yakuza: Apparently, as a group of gangsters is set to fight a rival group of gangsters. But it's not really clear why they are fighting each other. After they learn that their leaders were arrested they just hang about the basement lair with nothing to do until they hit upon the idea of finding the sniper.
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