Valentine’s greetings to you from Straight Outta Kanto! What would you do, dear readers, if you found yourself in a situation where hordes of bare-breasted lust filled women chased you through rural Edo period Japan in the hopes of making sweet, sweet love with you? No! No need to tell me. I can imagine that you would welcome such a rare and wondrous phenomena with open arms. (Heck, I’m straight, but even my vanity would be hard pressed to refuse such attention!)
However, if you were poor old Buddhist monk Ninko, you would revile such wanton advances with every last fiber of your being.
Norihiro Niwatsukino’s 2016 surreal fantasy horror The Suffering of Ninko (released on dual format blu-ray/DVD by Third Window Films) explores this very unique and off-beat dilemma. Starring Masato Tsujioka (Suicide Club, Hellevator: The Bottled Fools, and a peer of Shinya Tsukamoto) as the titular Ninko, this is a historical period fantasy that borders on comedy, art house and folkloric horror.
Ninko is an exceptionally devout monk dedicated to a pure religious life. Unfortunately for Ninko, he unwillingly seems to possess an almost supernatural sexual magnetism that draws a diverse range of women (real and imaginary) to him from across the land. As a celibate monk devoted to abstinence of every description, you can imagine how this would create problems for Ninko. Not only is Ninko’s extreme sexual powers causing impediments in his own daily life, it’s starting to affect the lives of his fellow monks.
After a series of failed alms donation drives, jealousy and dissent amongst Ninko and his peers ensues. Ninko’s own fragile mental health is at breaking point. His personal trials and torment at his “gift” is portrayed through exquisitely filmed time-lapse montages interspersed with surreal interpretive dance, all set to Ravel’s “Bolero”.
Deciding that he must go on a personal quest to, in essence, sort his sh*t out, Ninko leaves the monastery and takes to the forests and mountains alone. However, he’s not alone for long. Ninko teams up with a wandering ronin and together they decide to solve the mystery of why a local mountain village has had all its men disappear, only to be later found as ex-sanguinated, desiccated corpses.
Cue a sharp thematic shift in the movie from bizarre period art house comedy to traditional Yurei filled horror. Starring Japanese porn actress Miho Wakabayashi as the mysterious and eerie Yama-Onna; here the movie begins to blend psycho-sexual fantasy, ye olde time folk lore and mixed-media animation art work.
The Suffering of Ninko “comes” to a “climatic” end with Ninko discovering his true self and embracing his supernatural sexual powers (no oxygen tent though, Simpsons fans…!).
‘Ninko is a short but worthwhile watch that provides an exceptionally visual viewing experience for those looking for a more cerebral way to pass an evening. And if a screen full of bouncing titties can’t be classed as “cerebral”, then I don’t want to be smart.
Straight Outta Kanto is the nerdy nom de plume of international horror-shock musician, illustrator and radio personality Venus de Vilo.
Straight Outta Kanto is a podcast and review blog dedicated to bringing it’s audience the warped and weirdest in nerd culture, nightmare fuel and 90s/00s nostalgia.
Champion of the Shurikon 2018 Pokémon League competition, certified VGC Dragon Gym Leader and CEO of Pokémon Fan Club Ireland, Straight Outta Kanto is an unapologetic otaku and psychotic J-Horror fanatic.