(Translator's note: This post is a continuation of a previous entry.)
The 90's changed things immensely for the Japanese AV industry. Until this time, most adult videos were rental-only, but production companies starting popping up with videos that could be sold directly to consumers. One such company is Soft on Demand founded by the famous Ganari Takahashi.
Before he founded Soft on Demand, Takahashi worked for a TV production company where he directed a wide range of bizarre programming (the sky was the limit during the bubble era!). With these unorthodox ideas in tow, he took a gamble with the blessing of his boss on a low-staffed AV production company in dire straits. One of his first ideas that turned into a best-selling series that is still produced today is the Magic Mirror Bus.
What made this series unique was its humor; it was not solely focused on sex, but the fun and games leading up to it in a way never been done before. It is said that the Magic Mirror Bus series is the first example of AV mimicking variety TV and it certainly paved the way for future series with similar themes.
Both types of Japanese have their merits and demerits. Directors aiming for the dramatic put their actresses in the spotlight with slow, but steady glimpses at her increasingly naked body in compromising situations. Their goal is to leave an impression and make the viewer want more. On the other hand, the variety TV-type Japanese AV productions are less about the looks of a women and more about the strangeness of the contrived situations. For awhile Soft on Demand was said to not even feature productions that displayed ejaculations! Times sure have changed.
So how does Japanese AV of today fare? From my own experiences on set, now more than ever is the era of the amateur. What's more, it's rare now to see a director's name written on the box cover art when it once was a given. Some content aggregator sites like DMM frequently don't even list the director of a production. Where his name would be is often a blank space. There also is more focus on POV productions where the actor's face is rarely if ever visible.
I think AV titles are moving towards even more realistic depictions of sex which may not always be a good thing. Some of the more advanced film-making techniques are being thrown out the window to be replaced with very unprofessional camerawork.
This also is the era of user-submitted adult video where the goal is quick and authentic gratification by simple means. Websites like XVideos makes this type of quick-release need easy to quench similar to how instant ramen can quickly put an end to one's hunger. There, when one only wants to see truly user-created amateur movies, sex and only sex is on the table. Humor is out as well as grandiose productions.
These types of amateur-created adult video are AV in its most basic form: made individually without the a larger company being involved. They are truly cost-effective and companies that currently produce bigger productions are definitely taking note when brainstorming for future releases.
Criticism of this trend in adult video is not really needed as it's only natural that Japanese AV will adapt to the times. However, this trend of hyper amateur productions does give off somewhat of a lonely vibe. I've been around AV for awhile and have seen a lot. What makes me most proud of are the production-heavy titles be it documentaries, comedies, and even story-driven pieces. I'm not sure if everyone moving to simpler productions is what's best for this industry to prosper in the long run. However, if any AV company is looking for creative ideas, I'm only an email away (us, too!).
Written by Miyuki Nakagawara
Men's Cyzo recommends this title to readers of this article.
(Translator's note: She makes some good points about how adult video worldwide is moving towards amateur-themed productions. However, is this true for all big name makers of adult video in Japan? Definitely not. Some studios may be testing the waters with low-cost bare-bones productions, but movies with big themes and ones that are more bizarre than ever are still being produced. Supply always follows demand so if this is what some fans want, it will be provided until it they shift gears back to other types of productions. Heck, Japanese pink cinema is even making something of a comeback with interest from all over the world.)
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