Wednesday, May 26, 2010


She's a robot. She's a geisha. She's ... well, you know. Written and directed by Noboru Iguchi, the guy responsible for Machine Girl (as well as less-than-memorable titles like Doctor's Enema and A Larva to Love), Robogeisha is essentially a live-action cartoon aimed squarely at the 10 to 14-year-old demographic. This wouldn't be a problem if Iguchi were talented enough to bring out the 14-year-old in me (it's not that hard, I have to say).

Unfortunately, he isn't. Every performance is so exaggerated, every gag so overdone that one can't even lose oneself in the outrageousness of it all -- the film is too busy trumpeting its own outrageousness. Literally. Someone gets fried shrimps jammed into their eye sockets. Immediately the victim screams, "Oh! She jammed shrimps in my eyes!" Or a bionically modified girl shoots half a dozen shuriken out of her ass and the guy who gets them in the face makes a similar announcement. It's as if the director isn't sure you're getting it, that you can't possibly process what just happened (because, of course, it's SOOOO outrageous), that it has to be announced after the fact. This happens continuously throughout the picture.

Don't get me wrong, the gags are indeed outrageous, and often quite inventive. Swords lunge out of womens' mouths and armpits; geisha wigs are tricked out with "wig nepalm;" girls shoot bullets from their breasts, as well as "milk from hell" (which, of course, melts peoples' faces off); one robogeisha projects a circular saw from her mouth with which to murder a prominent politician. Done a bit more deadpan, this stuff might have worked (or at the very least worked better). As it is, it all plays like a twisted, bloody take on a Saturday morning kid's show.

But hey, that's just me. You may indeed be thinking, "twisted, bloody take on a Saturday morning kid's show? I'm there!" In my case, I tend to enjoy OTT antics in films, and if you know me (or if you've read any of my books), you know I'm no snob. The bone I'm picking with Robogeisha is purely a matter of presentation. With a little more work, it could have been a campy romp, instead of what amounts to a mad dash from one jaw-dropping set piece to the next.

So you tell me. Am I being too hard on Robogeisha? Am I just some old fart who doesn't get it? Give it to me straight, folks, I can take it.

(Robogeisha streets June 7th in the UK courtesy of Cine Asia.)


Peter Nellhaus said...

I can almost imagine Robogeisha without seeing it. I have seen two other films by Noboru Iguchi, Machine Girl and Sukeban Boy, which I found more interesting in concept than what's actually onscreen. I would like to see his version of Manji having read the book and seeing the film with the lovely Ayako Wakao.

Patrick Galloway said...

Hmm. I'm thinking Iguchi is no Masumura ...