Welcome back, my friends, to horror anime month. This week I’ll be looking at Midori: Shoujo Tsubaki. Yes, I know that it was supposed to be Blue Gender. My apologies, but I lost Internet service for several days and wasn’t able to quite finish it. So it’ll have to wait for next week. In the meantime, let’s take a look at this film that was banned in Japan when it came out on account of its imagery. The film was crafted by a single man, Harada Hiroshi. Supposedly he found it impossible to gain sponsors for it and spent his life savings on the project. Is it a Magnum Opus or were there very good reasons that Harada couldn’t find anyone to take up the project? Let’s delve into this obscure piece and find out.
The story follows young Midori. She loses both of her parents and has no one to take care of her. She finds her way to a traveling circus where she is physically and sexually abused. I wonder why Harada couldn’t find sponsors? To be fair, it’s not shown in great detail. You see just enough to know what’s going on. Then a magician with dwarfism enters the scene and things start to change. The story is very simple to the point of being one-dimensional. It follows the simplest structure it can. Where it tries to draw you in is with shocking and grotesque imagery. The problem with that s that there’s nothing even remotely substantive behind that imagery. This is another anime that lacks horror. It’s conceptually disturbing and some of the images do have shock value but the execution lacks impact. You’ll get a scene in which things start out normally enough, there’s a twist and some shock images and then it’ll hurriedly wrap up and shift to the next scene. There’s no good build up or payoff. They don’t extend things or build on them enough to give it actual horror.
The characters in this are fully one-dimensional. Most of them get one or two scenes where they’re allowed to do something. Even, Midori, the major character that you’re supposed to gain some measure of investment in, is more of a passive object than any kind of proactive character. They never really delve into the actual impact the events shes going through are having on her. Except in one brief nightmare scene that comes, goes and leaves no impact. I literally just finished watching the film and I couldn’t recount what happened in that scene in any kind of detail.
The art is kind of impressive when you consider that the bulk of it was done by one guy. It’s still not really decent, though. It’s very sloppy and the animation is jerky. But you have to give Harada credit for getting it done and making it passable.
The voice acting is very amateurish and the sound quality isn’t very good. I’m sure that Harada did the best he could without studio support or sponsors. It still sounds terrible
The ho-yay factor is a 3/10. There is a very brief scene between a grown man and a younger teenage boy. Why you would want to see that, I have no idea. Dude should find a boyfriend his own age.
This film reminds me of an independent exploitation film. It’s lacking in budget, the technical aspects are amateurish, the execution is pants and the story is beyond weak. The major focus is on being shocking but without anything substantial to back it up it ends up being largely forgettable and stupid. While it is pretty impressive that the bulk of the work was done by a single man, that doesn’t excuse the terrible story, complete lack of even semi-developed characters or rubbish execution when attempting horror. Final rating: 2/10. I would only check it out if you’re very curious about it as an independent piece or as a previously banned piece. Otherwise I’d leave it in obscurity where it belongs. Next week will actually be Blue Gender.