If you, like me, have an interest in Japanese Pink Film but are too bashful to google such matters, Zahlten’s book is just the thing. Pink Film, essentially a version of soft-core pornography, is given both an encompassing historical contextualization, as well as a critical analysis—the sort of inquiry you won’t feel embarrassed to be caught reading on the subway. That said, for all it’s evident research (both primary sources and theory are excerpted liberally), the book isn’t overly academic. It’s not quite “reading Playboy for the interviews,” but it also won’t put you to sleep. Tracing Japanese Cinema from the 1960s to (roughly) the present, Zahlten identifies three of what he calls “industrial genres” to lead us from then, until now: the aforementioned Pink Film, Kadokawa Films (big budget affairs with various other media tie-ins) and V-Cinema (direct-to-video fare). The lineage is easy enough to follow, and includes delights like a brief biography of Haruki Kadokawa, the flamboyant architect of the genre that led to films like Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (apparently Akira Kurosawa once refused to shake his hand).
The End of Japanese Cinema: Industrial Genres, National Times, and Media Ecologies
Duke University Press