Tōru Muranishi, "the pioneer of taboo" established a new era of Japanese adult videos. He revolutionized the pornographic film industry and expanded the market for bini-bon (erotic magazines wrapped in plastic), the predecessors of today's ero-hon (porn magazines) that are restricted to people over 18. Netflix’s original series, “The Naked Director”, which tells the story of the unconventional, repeatedly arrested director Muranishi who faced a 370-year prison term in the US, debuted on August 8. 

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In 1980 Muranishi worked as an English textbook salesman who manages to achieve top results shortly before his company goes bankrupt. At the time he comes home to find his wife cheating on him and as he is in the depths of despair, he crosses paths with a street punk Toshi. Muranishi learns from Toshi about porn magazines called bini-bon and decides to try to turn his luck around by establishing his own bini-bon distribution company with the help of a publisher named Kawata. Quickly he turns out to be the dark horse of the industry and becomes the hero of quite a few legends.

Takayuki Yamada as Muranishi, Shinnosuke Mitsushima as Toshi and Tetsuji Tamayama as Kawada talk so vividly as if they were recalling their own youth. Their commitment to the production is best described by Matsushima's comment "So now we go back to the outside world”, as the shooting ended. We listen as the three men who re-created the exuberance of “Bubble Era” Japan of the 1980s talk joyfully about the series that caused a stir in today's Japan that is still bound by compliance.

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――This is a sensational piece of work. Let's start with how the three of you decided to be part of it.

Mitsushima:         Well, it all starts with Yamada。

Tamayama:          You're right.

Yamada:               OK. I have to admit that because of the generation gap and so on, at first I didn't actually know who Muranishi was. But after I was offered the role and did some research I thought 'wow, this is really interesting'. I knew I had to do it. I had a feeling that the work on the set would be a lot of fun and that we would come up with a really inspiring production. From then on I would frequently visit Netflix and as a first step discuss with producer Sakamoto how the story was going to be told. We hold many meetings with about a dozen people of different nationalities, age and sex just to discuss the script. However I removed myself from the picture once the actual work on the script started. I waited until it was completed and then reappeared as Tōru Muranishi.

――There were quite a few anecdotes in the dialogue. Was there anything in particular that surprised or moved you?

Mitsushima:        I was fascinated by Muranishi's energetic and outgoing demeanour when he tried to attract people around him. It's quite obvious when you watch episode 1 and 2 that Muranishi was just an unsuccessful salesman, a simple man trying to feed his family. He struggled for quite a long time. That's important. If he had been extraordinary since childhood and a star, viewers might think that "it's all because he was born special" and feel a bit distant. But it's the opposite. He's actually a man who makes us believe that "anyone can bask in the limelight as there's a right time for everybody". He's not special, he's Everyman.

Yamada:              He opened his heart believing that it would help others to do the same.

Mitsushima:      That's it. This is the kind of strength of core that attracted me.

Tamayama:        I was really startled by the story of the eki-ben (train station lunch box) position.

Mitsushima:      That was really something!!

Tamayama:       It's funny but at the same time a bit wistful. It's moving, it's a true story you know.

Yamada:            It's something to pay attention to in episode 3.

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――How do you feel about putting this kind of production out there in the world? Tamayama mentioned half jokingly "My popularity will probably drop". Do you worry about your image?

Yamada:            Isn't our image something that's created by others rather than ourselves? I think everybody has a different idea of us. So if you despise me because of this production, it's fine by me.

Tamayama:      But Takayuki, isn't it typical for you to betray everybody, the audience?

Yamada:            (laughing) Typical.

Tamayama:      When working with you, we find this aspect really amazing and there's something about it that we can't imitate. But I think that there's actually quite a lot of artists who secretly share this approach. For example, they might simply lack the courage or not have the opportunity to try it out. Well, I suppose this is what Japanese culture is like. It's the same for everyone, so probably there are also writers who think "In fact, I'd like to write it more like this, but for now I better just stick to the safe solutions", everybody got their something.

But that's nothing more than creating an invisible enemy and being a coward, I believe everybody should be like "here we go!" and just do it. Japan's going to wither, these are difficult times, so I hope that making this kind of production in this particular moment might encourage those who watched it to loosen up a bit and then maybe, just maybe, we might actually end up seeing far a more interesting Japan.

Yamada:          (laughing) So even if there're concerns like "What if young people who watched 'The Naked Director' start doing similar things on social media?" we'd say "Well, it's the responsibility of parents to explain these things to them properly". It's nothing new: it was always like this, it just became easier to talk about it now. So if we were to hold ourselves back, we definitely wouldn't be able to create anything interesting or stimulating.

Mitsushima:    You're right. And anyway, isn't "The Naked Director" available worldwide? I was born in Japan, raised in Japan, I speak Japanese, I have a body that grew in Japanese culture and on Japanese cuisine so I want to make productions in Japan. Somewhere deep inside I always wanted to create a worldwide movie with Japanese stuff, Japanese actors and Japanese script. It might not be much, but it might bring completely new possibilities. I'm so excited, because once it's on air it could be the start of something new.

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Plot summary

As Tōru Muranishi (Takayuki Yamada) hits rock bottom when the company where he works as a salesman goes bankrupt and his wife cheats on him. Along with his friends Toshi (Shinnosuke Mitsushima) and Kawada (Tetsuji Tamayama), he fights to turn his luck around with the help of adult videos. He quickly becomes the dark horse of the industry, but due to the interference of a business rival, he ends up driven into a corner. It is then when meets Megumi - a female university student, who was raised by her strict mother to suppress her true self. The destiny that brought them together turns the social norms upside down.

Stars: Takayuki Yamada, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Misato Morita, Tokio Emoto, Sairi Itō, Ami Tomite, Takenori Gotô ・ Kōtarō Yoshida, Itsuji Itao, Kimiko Yo/Koyuki, Kunimura/Tetsuji Tamayama, Lily Franky, Ryo Ishibashi

  • General Director:Masaharu Take
  • Director:Hayato Kawai, Eiji Uchida
  • Based on:Nobuhiro Motohashi's "Zenra Kantoku Muranishi Toru Den"(Ohta Publishing)
  • Writers:Yoshitatsu Yamada, Eiji Uchida, Kōsuke Nishi,Kana Yamada

Continue reading: https://filmaga.filmarks.com/articles/2921/ (Japanese)