Shōjo Tsubaki

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Shōjo Tsubaki
少女椿
Manga
Written by Suehiro Maruo
Published by Seirindō (青林堂?)
English publisher
Blast Books
Published September 1984
Volumes 1
Anime film
Chika Gentō Gekiga: Shōjo Tsubaki
Directed by Hiroshi Harada
Produced by Hiroshi Harada
Written by Hiroshi Harada
Music by J. A. Seazer
Released May 2, 1992
Runtime 52 minutes
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Shōjo Tsubaki (少女椿?, "The Camellia Girl") was a stock protagonist of kamishibai during its revival in early Shōwa period Japan attributed to a creator known as Seiun, though the plagiarism and retelling in sundry variants that was the norm for popular-proving tales make its origin uncertain. Generally speaking, the character is a stereotypical adolescent or preadolescent ingénue, a daughter of a penniless family who goes from the frying pan of selling camellias on the streets to the fire of being bought and sold and forced to perform in a revue show.

The character is known to western, and indeed contemporary Japanese, audiences predominantly by way of Suehiro Maruo's ero guro reinterpretation in comics including a graphic novel of the same name published in English translation as Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show and Hiroshi Harada's film based on Maruo's version, screened at film festivals and released on DVD-Video with English subtitles as Midori. The graphic novel is considered a classic of Maruo's 1920s-inspired brand of ero guro and its out-of-print English edition has become much sought-after; the film is also infamous in itself and for the elaborate expanded cinema presentations it was originally only shown in, though it has been allowed to screen in conventional movie theaters and even released on home video outside of Japan.

Comics[edit]

The comics and film's version of the story follows the misadventures of a girl called Midori who, after losing her mother, joins a funfair freak show. She is harassed, abused and humiliated by everyone else in the show until the appearance of a dwarf magician-hypnotist.

Film[edit]

The word "Midori" is displayed in dark heliotrope, pseudo-oriental Roman letters above a multicoloured background and "Shōjo Tsubaki" in white, pseudo-European Chinese characters with floating heads of characters from the film below.
Cover of the 2006 Ciné Malta DVD of the film

Midori (地下幻燈劇画 少女椿 Chika Gentō Gekiga: Shōjo Tsubaki?, roughly "Underground Projected Dramatic Pictures: Maiden Camellia") is a 1992 Japanese independent ero guro film by Hiroshi Harada, based on Suehiro Maruo's comic version of the kamishibai standard. The film, which Harada scripted and directed under the pseudonym of Hisaaki Etsu (絵津久秋 Etsu Hisaaki?)[1] and whom he presents as a lost filmmaker he worked on it under,[2] consists primarily of paintings and cels of drawings by Harada held, panned or zoomed over with music, sound effects and voice acting and occasional touches of traditional animation.

The film is considered partially lost: it was banned on account of depicting imagery illegal to in Japan at the time and seized, with some sequences surviving only in standard definition from telecining prior.

Production[edit]

The film was single handedly created by Hiroshi Harada. Given the subject matter, Harada had found it impossible to gain sponsors. He then used all of his life savings to make the film over a five-year period. Over 5000 separate sheets of animation were hand drawn by Harada.

Screenings[edit]

The film was for many years very rare to see at all as Harada will only screen Midori in Japan if the venue is presented as a carnival freak show; the original film has been destroyed and only a handful of bootleg video copies were known to exist. In 2006, however, a region 2-locked, PAL-style DVD-Video of the film with subtitles in French, English, Spanish, Italian and German was released in France by Ciné Malta.

See also[edit]

  • GeGeGe no Kitarō – another manga and anime franchise with its origins in kamishibai
  • Belladonna – an earlier erotic Japanese film using still paintings and animation

References[edit]

External links[edit]