Unbearable Unpleasantness of Midori – Shoujo Tsubaki

February 8, 2010

You can search all you like but you will never find an anime movie like Midori – Shoujo Tsubaki, a bizarre theatrical experience reserved only for the most sadistic and daring viewers. Not only did it take one person 5 years to animate the entire movie, the movie was ‘performed’ as an underground freak show, where people were given maps, giving them directions through a maze of eerie fogs, where one would arrive at an atmospheric screening room.

Interesting trivias aside, this is not the most important part about the movie. What is important is that, if you do plan to burn your eyes watch this film, it features extremely gory, disgusting and unbearably unpleasant images that you wish you didn’t see. If you don’t wish to witness a little girl horribly raped by a gang of freaks, or little puppies brutally deconstructed for amusement, stay far, far away from this movie.

I mean it

The movie is actually an adaptation of an ero manga Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show by Maruo Suehiro and as such, unspeakably foul world of Midori is brought alive through Suehiro’s terrifyingly captivating style. The director remains faithful to the original manga’s form to every minute detail, which is evident in below screencap. Truly fearsome is its artistry in that we are drawn to the visuals despite their banal nature, making it harder for us to dismiss it as another freakish Japanese porn.

Left: original manga, Right: anime adaptation, Midori

A good live-action counterpart to Midori would be Irreversible, a controversial film that won Palm d’Or at Cannes. A part of me died as I sat there watching Monica Bellucci being painfully raped for 9 minutes, not to mention unbearable horrors of the underground gay bar that we ‘tour’ through. And the inevitable question one may ask would be, why? Why watch it? Because Irreversible and Midori actually have beautiful moments. If it weren’t for those absolutely horrendous scenes, I wonder if the tragic kind of beauty depicted in Irreversible and Midori could have been fully appreciated. There is a memorable scene in Midori that I still cherish til this day. It’s when a little girl, after endless rape and abuse, miraculously meets a short magician and finds hope in her bleak life, all so naturally portrayed in beautiful drawings. But are they worth the unbearable unpleasantness? Unfortunately only you can answer that.

~~

fmonica bellucci
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12 Responses to “Unbearable Unpleasantness of Midori – Shoujo Tsubaki”


  1. I wonder how much beauty there actually is in those moments — in that the beauty becomes extraordinarily striking because of the bleakness and horror sandwiching them.

    Grave of the Fireflies had beautiful moments too, but I wouldn’t want to watch that film again myself. I think I can stay away from this one.

    Nonetheless it’s strangely enriching to know that something like this exists, so thanks.

  2. gaguri Says:

    Oh well, at least you know which anime to recommend if you want to gross them out…

  3. 2DT Says:

    I’ve been interested in “Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show” since last year. At the same time, I’ve been kind of scared to track it down, to own it and eventually to read it alone. I’m not very good with gore.

    It sounds like the antithesis of the classic movie “Freaks.” In that film, the freaks are a family, more human in spirit than the nasty, judgmental normals. In “Midori,” if what you say is true, the freaks are freakish in body and soul. I don’t know how I feel about that.

    But it’s very intriguing, so cheers!


  4. I finished reading Narutaru not too long ago, and while the scenes there don’t go to the lengths this featured work of yours does, it puts me in an emotional blender — identifying with torturer and tortured: switching back and forth, and at times simultaneously.

    I hate this feeling. Entertained? Yes. Pleased? Yes. Guilty? Like a bunch of Catholics during Lent.

  5. gaguri Says:

    @2DT

    It would be interesting, or at least educational (film study wise), to watch Irreversible first, and see where that takes you. It also has one of the most innovative and effective narrative structure, which is integrated beautifully with the elements of gore, to present a whole new take on rape/violence in movies.

    @ghostlightning

    yea what you described in your blog post was bit too complicated for me to answer. The question of enjoying/appreciating/feeling guilty from things like rape/murder in fiction is a fascinating, but an unsolvable puzzle for me. I mean, I obviously enjoyed the hell out of people getting slaughtered in Kill Bill and Battle Royale, and it’s easier to satisfy one’s ‘rape fantasy’ in hentai I guess. But is it ok to enjoy killings and rapes in ‘not serious business’ shows like this, while one must feel guilty about being engaged in shows like Narutaru? Where to draw the line?


  6. The line is a lie perhaps. Also, I am very confused with guilt itself as an emotion. It’s feeling bad for doing something bad, which seems simple enough. But doing is one thing, feeling is another — by feeling I mean something passive, a consequence of stimuli, like guilt itself.

    So when I get off on a horrific scene, is one thing. But to seek it, to re-watch the same show or look for the same rush in others, is another thing altogether.

    But I don’t think I’m being conclusive at all. Obviously, guilt fascinates me.

  7. Hox Says:

    Oh, so you’ve watched the anime adapatation of Maruo Suehiro’s famous “Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freak Show”? I personally think the manga is much better, primarily because its art does a better job at conveying the visceral violence (it does to me, at least).

    But in the end, you really have to be a little twisted or touched in the head (or just browse the internet for a really long time) to like his stuff, kind of like with Shintaro Kago’s manga. A very polarizing reaction is to be expected from most people.

  8. gaguri Says:

    @ghostlightning

    I get where you’re coming from and I too think there’s nothing wrong with getting off as a consequence of being engaged to something (which is more of kudos to director than our fault), but perhaps there is something to be said about someone who actively seeks to get off on those scenes…

    @Hox

    I kinda like Sehiro’s art though. Maybe because that’s the kind of pictures I drew when I was bit stressed at high school (lol). I dare not read his manga though, afraid it will mess with my head. Wonderful to see this obscure work be seen by some people though, one of a kind anime!

    I have a feeling animekritik might like his works, although hopefully he doesn’t venture too deep into the dark side!

  9. Shadowmage Says:

    Sad thing is that /b/ is oh so much worse than this visually, but this movie cuts deep due to the context it provides.

  10. gaguri Says:

    yea you can kinda ignore /b/ but harder to ignore the unpleasantness in Midori or Irreversible, they have that power that stays with you.

  11. HT Says:

    Just finished watching it and I think you’re exaggerating a little. For one, you say it’s unique but the “can’t catch a break” kid in tragedies is hardly new. I suppose I can’t name another anime like it, but then I only come across such things looking for horror and the two don’t overlap as often as you may expect.

    I thought the beginning was the nastiest bit (including the puppies), from there it went to monotonous before gaining a twist of bizarre (and a visually fascinating scene soon to follow). Then, of course, it trailed off into more misery followed by an abrupt end.

    I would recommend that one truly bizarre scene (avoiding spoilers yet I think which one I mean is clear) to folk but the film itself doesn’t stick out to me.

    5.5/10


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