• Zoom Up: The Beaver Book Girl

    Released by: Impulse Pictures
    Released on: June 12, 2012.
    Director: Takashi Kanno
    Cast: Junko Mabuki, Hayano Kumiko, Yoshiko Saski
    Year: 1981
    Purchase From TLA Video

    The Movie:

    The third entry in Nikkatsu’s Zoom Up series of Roman Porno films, Zoom Up: The Beaver Book Girl was directed by Takashi Kanno and based on the manga by Takashi Ishii. Shot in 1981, this sixty-five minute nonstop barrage of depravity follows a photographer dubbed Maestro (by his gay sex magazine publisher who just can’t keep his hands off of him!) and his assistant, Kouichi who specialize in schoolgirl panty shots which they then sell to various sleazy men’s magazines. Their main model, Mako (Hayano Kumiko), is cute as cute can be all dolled up in her tacky JAWS sweatshirt. She also doesn’t mind offering up a little booty on the side and isn’t against hanging out and eating spaghetti – she’s also not above splitting the big wad of cash that showed up in the mail with her two pals. But things become more interesting when an older and sexier woman, Yoshie (Junko Mabuki), stops by wanting to model.

    They take her in and set up their cameras to see what she’s got – and what she’s got is some fine sexy lingerie, lovely curves and a serious penchant for water sports! Her photos, however, are just what our perverted duo was after and so they decide to do a few more sets with her. While all of this is going on, the mysterious woman’s past starts to come into the present and her real motives for working with these two horny shutterbugs start to become exposed.

    While director Takashi Kanno seems to have been far more prolific as an assistant director, he keeps Zoom Up: The Beaver Book Girl moving at a good pace. Like most of the movies in Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno line, the film is a short one but Kanno somehow manages to cram the film with loads of bizarre imagery and kinky sex but again, in keeping with Nikkatsu’s take on what sex films should be, the production values are excellent. It should also be said that Kanno and his crew know how to frame a shot. As those familiar with this type of material already know, censorship laws in Japan forbid certain naughty bits from appearing on camera but by strategically placing fleeting ornaments of clothing or by moving the camera ever so slightly this is a film that skirts dangerously close to defying those laws. The movie’s even got a crazy bondage scene in which our shutterbugs tie a lovely lady up to a cross, naked, with some interesting rope work – right out in the middle of a field.

    The film builds to a pretty interesting conclusion during which the storyline comes together rather well and the plot is all of a sudden a slight be headier and more satisfying than it may have originally seemed. The focus here is on the sex and the photo shoot scenes completely hammer that home, particularly when they so blatantly fetishize the more fluid aspects of what our lovely model can do, but all of this comes into play during the film’s big finish which takes place, oddly enough, in a pit inside an abandoned warehouse. Performances are fairly bold across the line, with our male players going for a slightly lighter tone than the sexy and mysterious Junko Mabuki who is well described on the packaging text as a ‘femme fatale’ – an accurate description given the dark and somewhat brooding personality she has and the way she uses her sexuality as a means to an end.


    Zoom Up: The Beaver Book Girl looks good in this 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors are handled well and look quite natural as do skin tones, of which there are loads on display. Black levels aren’t quite inky deep in every single scene but overall they are solid and detail is generally strong across the board. There are no issues with print damage to complain about and overall this is a surprisingly clean, sharp, good looking picture.

    The Japanese language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track is crisp and clean. The levels are well balanced and there are no issues with hiss or distortion. The optional English subtitles that are provided are free of any typos and easy to read.

    Extras on the disc are limited to a menu, chapter selection and the film’s salacious theatrical trailer clocking in at a brief single minute in length. Inside the case is an insert containing original poster art for the feature and liner notes from film scholar/author Jasper Sharp that detail the history of the film’s director and provide some interesting information about where Nikkatsu was at during this period in their history.

    The Final Word:

    There are more thought provoking Roman Porno and pink films out there to be sure but this one hits a nice balance of narrative and sensational set pieces and it winds up carving out a nice, dirty little spot for itself. Junko Mabuki is a sight to behold and Zoom Up: The Beaver Book Girl is another welcome addition to Impulse Pictures’s Nikkatsu Roman Porno line.

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      I've just watched this one and *really* enjoyed it. Kanno shows an ironic distance from his material, ironically defusing the erotic spectacle of the smut shoots featured in the film (a young model, lashed to a cross for her first bondage shoot, gigglingly protests 'It tickles!') and showing the mechanics of shooting pictures for dirty magazines: we see the photographer lying on the floor of a public toilet, trying to work his camera to such an angle as to obscure the model's pubic region. There are jokey allusions to the kinds of questions we've probably all wondered about with regards erotic photography (the photographer's assistant struggles to hide his erection during one of the shoots, we're shown the photographer and his assistant trying to 'gee up' one of the models). One of the interviewees on Mondo Macabro's ASSAULT! JACK THE RIPPER (I think it was Jasper Sharp) said Hasebe felt as if he was above making sex films, and I got a little of that vibe from Kanno's direction here, as if he was making a sex film that deliberately deflated and undermined the mystique of sex photography (and filmmaking) whilst also attempting to give his producers what they expected, which is acres of flesh and some truly perverse sequences involving people pissing on each other. My only disappointment was that this film ended up where most sex films climax (if you'll pardon the pun), with an erotic showdown; I guess these erotic showdowns are as essential to the genre as the gunfight at the end of a traditional Western. However, in this case the extended erotic showdown takes place in a derelict factory (it looked like a munitions factor to me, but I'm probably wrong about that) and involves the photographer and his model fucking through dirt and climaxing through a pile of empty cardboard boxes (it's a shot that's arguably as off-kilter as anything Jodorowsky dreamt up). It all seems very symbolic in that accidentally-symbolic kind of way that much Japanese culture of the 1970s was (eg, Daido Moriyama's 'Stray Dog'). It's probably something to do with repression; I suppose the similarly repressive UK has an equal tendency for accidental symbolism in its 1970s sex films. Tasteless, wacky, symbolic (whether intentional or otherwise) and arguably as self-referential as PEEPING TOM, this is a bloody good little film
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      Pardon the lack of paragraphing, btw - it somehow got lost in the formatting.