Japanese AV as we know it today can be traced back to 1981 with the emergence of adult magazines sold with opaque plastic wrapping and lewd office lady photobooks. Since that time and thanks to the burgeoning video rental market that began in the 1980's, Japan has remained the top contender for most prosperous porn industry worldwide. AV along with its anime counterparts have always been seen as high-priced commodities all over Asia. However, once upon a time AV had a serious domestic rival: pink films.
Pink films first saw the light of day in the 60's and had a sharp increase in popularity with Nikkatsu's Roman(tic) Porno series. The arrival of Japanese adult video in the 80's began the death knell of their industry with fans opting to watch adult-oriented movies at home instead of pornographic movie theaters (Translator's note: some of these theaters still exist today but cater to an increasingly aged group of older men and will most likely not be around for much longer.).
Rental video stores around this time began to increase greatly in number and were arguably a better deal both financially and also for reasons of privacy. Masturbation is frowned upon even in adult theaters.
What made AV so different from pink films was the documentary aspect of it. Pink films were always story-driven pieces whereas AV productions featured real sex without any drama (for the most part...). Longtime fans of pink cinema were itching for more—for the real thing, really—and they got it with the novel ideas adult video companies at the time were bringing forth.
One of the directors from the dawn of Japanese AV who still is active today is Tadashi Yoyogi. His claim to AV fame and what truly set the stage for years to come was his adult video directorial debut with Aching Lust with Actual Sex starring Kyouko Aizome, whom is considered to be the first Japanese AV star. This title jump-started the AV industry by going on to sell over 20,000 copies. This later was followed by the even more popular Documentary Masturbation series featuring a first for AV—interviews before the action.
A salient difference among many between Japanese pink films and AV productions was editing. The former was very influenced by the greater world of film and the latter? Not so much. The aforementioned Tadashi Yoyogi had his start in regular film-making before making the jump to AV hence it's easy to spot his non-standard influences.
Documentary-style AV got a big boost by means of director Kaoru Adachi who in the mid 1980's opened his own production company, V&R Planning (V&R Planning still exists today, but produces mainly scat movies. Their offshoot, V&R Produce, produces other more conventional forms of 'strange' Japanese AV). These documentary pieces went far beyond looking just at sex, but into some of the more sordid aspects of modern society (think Faces of Death).
V&R Planning became somewhat of a famous director mecca with names such as Yamashita Bakushishi and Company Matsuo in their ranks. What's more, director's such as Noboru Iguchi and Katsuyuki Hirano whom although both began their directorial careers in adult video, eventually graduated to helming non-adult films.
Written by Miyuki Nakagawara
Men's Cyzo recommends this title to readers of this article.
(Translator's note: V&R Planning gets mentioned a lot when looking back at the colorful history of Japanese. As mentioned above in italics, it still exists and is still pumping out titles. Even Kaoru Adachi, the original director still is on board, but they seem stuck into making scat films and little else. Visit their site if you dare, but be prepared for a visual shock. Some of the titles are pretty novel. There even is one that takes on the concept of The Human Centipede and well...)
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