Shōjo Tsubaki

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Shōjo Tsubaki
GenreBody horror, eroguro
Written bySuehiro Maruo
Published bySeirindō
English publisher
Blast Books
ImprintMelon Comic
MagazineMonthly Melon Comic
PublishedSeptember 1984
Anime film
Chika Gentō Gekiga: Shōjo Tsubaki
Directed byHiroshi Harada
Produced byHiroshi Harada
Written byHiroshi Harada
Music byJ. A. Seazer
StudioMippei Eigeki Kiryuukan
ReleasedMay 2, 1992 (1992-05-02)
Runtime52 minutes
Live-action film
Directed byTORICO
ReleasedMay 2016 (2016-05)
Runtime90 minutes
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and manga portal

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 selling camellias on the streets to being sold, 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 Japan. A live action film adaptation of the manga was released in Japan in May 2016.


The original manga (as well as its OVA) follows the misadventures behind the colorful curtains and extravagant performances, there lies the dark side of the life of the local funfair freak show, hidden away from the smiles and praises of the audience. Set in early 20th century Japan in a circus that involves freaks such as Hohichi the Human Pretzel and another called The Human Worm, one member who is a little girl has highlighted the misdeeds that occur during these events of the circus camps in her dark and twisted tale:

  • Hanamura Midori the Camellia Girl: She was once an innocent 12-year-old girl who enjoyed her life as an elementary student to the fullest. However, everything changed after her father left and her mother died. Eventually, Midori is forced to become a school dropout and sells flowers in the city as a peasant. The orphaned Midori then meets a stranger who leads her towards the circus. What awaits her will never make her the same again.
  • Midori’s Father & Mother: Midori's missing parents. Midori's father mysteriously ran away and left his family alone, and Midori’s mother was bedridden due to an illness. Her death is of horrific nature as she's eaten up by rats and mice.
  • Mr. Arashi: The boss of the Amazing Freak Show, and the stranger who led Midori into his horrific circus. While he appears to be a benevolent and consistent manager, he is actually a sleazy and selfish con artist who is greedy and manipulative. He’ll do anything do succeed in get-rich-quick schemes, even going as far as taking Midori hostage for his show. Mr. Arashi is also the least perverted towards Midori, but is a sodomite nonetheless because of his homosexuality and hebephilia, shown by using Kanabun as his sex-slave.
  • Tokkuriji Muchisute the Mummy Man: The first circus freak– the disfigured young pervert with missing arms, along with a face covered in bandages like a mummy, due to him as being one of Japan’s victims to suffer from leprosy (Though he is a burn victim in the other adaptations). Although he has no arms, he is able to use his feet just as if they were hands, such as performing archery skills. He is the stalker who has assaulted Midori several times.
  • Akaza the Giant: The second circus freak– the sword-swallowing one-eyed strongman with a shaved head and tattoos. He is a laid-back tough guy who enjoys eating, money, and having sex with Benitsu. He goes along with the sadistic behaviors and fetishes of the other circus members, but is actually soft on the inside, showing respect to anyone who puts him in his place.
  • Benitsu the Snake Woman: The third circus freak– a middle-aged, voluptuous, long-haired, snake-charming woman. She is wicked, sadistic, and promiscuous, and would torment, oppress and sexually assault Midori just like the rest of the members. She once tried to solicit sex from Mr. Arashi, but was rejected as he confessed that he is gay.
  • Kanabun the Boy-Girl: The fourth circus freak– the adolescent fire-swallowing psychopath with overt cruelty and bloodlust. He is one of the particular members who caused Midori to attempt to escape from the circus, after slaughtering and cooking her puppies for fun. Kanabun is also a pervert, receiving both BDSM and oculolinctus from Mr. Arashi. Though Kanabun dresses as a young girl, Midori discovers that Kanabun is intersex, and Kanabun is considered a boy by the other circus members.
  • Masamitsu the Bottled Wonder: The final and leading circus freak– the charismatic, middle-aged, chubby, dwarf magician. He is an master illusionist, using special magic techniques from the West, and has the ability to enter into a bottle where normal humans could never enter without breaking their bones. He also manages the circus. Due to his pedophilia, he chooses Midori as his helper and her “guardian”.

Anime 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 adult horror 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.

In 1994, a censored version of the film was produced for future screenings at the request of Eirin, the Japanese film censor board. This version optically censored nudity, sexual assault, and violence towards animals, while removing discriminatory language from the audio track in the form of audio muting. The 2006 Ciné Malta DVD release of the film contains the original 1992 version, albeit with two short sections intended for audiences at live screenings omitted.

For many years, a videotape transfer of the film was all that was known to exist of the film, aside from censored post-1994 film prints screened at various international film festivals. In 2013, the original 16 mm negative of the film was rediscovered in an IMAGICA warehouse. A new print and digital master were made from this negative, and began to be screened in digital format in Japan numerous times. Harada’s production company plans to release a restored Blu-ray of the new master of the film in 2020.


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 5,000 separate sheets of animation were hand-drawn by Harada.


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. From 1994 to 2006, outside of standard definition videotape transfers of the original master, the film was only available in the form of prints with visual and audio censorship in place. 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, containing the original uncensored version of the film.

Live action film[edit]

A live action film adaptation of the manga directed by TORICO and starring Risa Nakamura [ja] was released in Japan in May 2016.[3] Other cast members include Shunsuke Kazama, Misaki Morino [ja], Takeru and Daichi Saeki [ja].[4]

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


  1. ^地下幻燈劇画%E3%80%80少女椿
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Midori/Shōjo Tsubaki Horror Manga Gets Live-Action Film Starring Risa Nakamura". Anime News Network. February 11, 2016. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  4. ^ 少女椿(2016). allcinema (in Japanese). Stingray. Retrieved March 14, 2016.

External links[edit]