Shōjo Tsubaki (少女椿, "The Camellia Girl") is a stock protagonist of kamishibai during its revival in early Shōwa period Japan. The character and her story is traditionally attributed to a creator known as Seiun, though the plagiarism and retelling in sundry variants that was the norm for popular-proving tales make its true origin uncertain. Generally speaking, the character is a stereotypical adolescent or preadolescent ingénue, a daughter of a penniless family who goes from selling camellias on the streets to being sold or forced to perform in a revue show.

Shōjo Tsubaki
GenreBody horror, eroguro
Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show
Written bySuehiro Maruo
Published bySeirindō
English publisher
PublishedSeptember 1984
Anime film
Directed byHiroshi Harada
Produced byHiroshi Harada
Written byHiroshi Harada (screenplay)
Music byJ. A. Seazer
StudioMippei Eiga Kiryūkan
Licensed byCiné Malta (France)
  • May 2, 1992 (1992-05-02) (Tokyo)[1]
Runtime47[2]–56 minutes
Live-action film
Midori: The Camellia Girl
Directed byTorico
Produced byMasahiro Tashiro
Written byTorico (screenplay)
Music byHitomi Kuroishi
StudioLink Rights
Licensed byMidori-Impuls (Germany)
ReleasedMay 21, 2016 (2016-05-21)
Runtime90 minutes[3]
icon Anime and manga portal

The character is known to western and contemporary Japanese audiences predominantly by way of Suehiro Maruo's ero guro reinterpretation in comics, first in a short story as part of an anthology and then in a full-length graphic novel of the same name (published in English as Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show), and Hiroshi Harada's semi-animated film based on Maruo's version, screened at film festivals and released on DVD-Video with English subtitles as Midori.

The graphic novel is considered a classic of Maruo's 1920s-inspired brand of ero guro and its out-of-print English edition has become much sought-after. Harada's film is also infamous in itself and for the elaborate expanded cinema presentations it was originally only shown in, though it has been allowed to screen in conventional movie theaters and even released on home video outside of Japan. A live-action film adaptation of the manga was released in Japan in May 2016.

Manga edit

Midori is a young girl who lives a normal life with her bedridden mother, she struggles to make ends meet by selling camellia flowers. Midori's father had left their family leaving them all alone struggling. Soon after, Midori meets a stranger named Mr. Arashi who seems to be kind towards her and offers her a job in his circus assuring that he will be there for her when she needs him. As Midori returns home, she is horrified to see her mother dead and almost eaten by rats. A distraught Midori follows the address that Arashi gave her leading her to a circus where she meets some strange and unusual performers.

Things take a horrific turn as Midori discovers the dark side of the circus, she is constantly tortured sexually, physically and mentally by the circus performers including Arashi, ever since the first day and forced to participate in their acts. Soon after, the circus starts performing bad, and to boost their income, Arashi hires a middle aged magician named Masamitsu. Masamitsu is a pedophile who takes an instant liking to Midori. He becomes her "guardian" and protects her from the wrath of the evil performers and eventually marries her. However, he too holds a psychopathic side. Especially once, when he brutally murdered a performer after he tried to harass Midori.

Later, Arashi runs away with the troupe's money forcing the performers to separate. Midori and Masamitsu leaves the circus. On the way, Masamitsu is stabbed by a thief while he was bringing food. Midori, unaware of this thinks that Masamitsu too like the others never cared about her and was tricking her all along. In the ending scene, Midori is seen running away but always reaching the same dead end. She starts hallucinating the circus troupe including Mr Arashi and Masamitsu mocking her. Traumatized and agitated, Midori suffers a violent panic attack (a mental breakdown) and tries to hit them but they all disappear. In the end, the hallucinations disappear leaving Midori completely broken and all alone.

By the credits scene, it is believed that Midori committed suicide, unable to bear the struggle, trauma and the sufferings she went through.

Characters edit

  • Hanamura Midori the Camellia Girl: An innocent 12-year-old girl with a bob haircut who enjoyed her life as a student to the fullest. However, everything changed after her father left and her mother died. Midori is forced to drop out of school and sell flowers in the city. The orphaned Midori then meets a stranger who leads her towards the circus. What awaits her will change her life, and her, forever.
  • Midori's Father and Mother: Midori's father mysteriously ran away and left his family alone, and Midori's mother was bedridden due to an illness. Her death is horrific as she's eaten by rats and mice.
  • Mr. Arashi: The boss of the Amazing Freak Show and the seedy stranger who led Midori into his horrific circus. While he appears to be a benevolent and consistent manager, he is actually a greedy and manipulative conman. He'll do anything to get rich, even going so far as taking Midori hostage for his show. He has no qualms of sleeping with little boys, and he has a fetish of eyeball licking/oculolinctus.
  • Tokkuriji Muchisute the Mummy Man: The first circus performer – the disfigured pervert with missing arms and a face covered in bandages like a mummy; he is one of Japan's victims of leprosy (though he's a burn victim in the other adaptations). Although he has no arms, he is able to use his feet just as if they were hands, performing archery in the circus. He is a stalker who has raped Midori several times.
  • Akaza the Giant: The second circus performer – the sword-swallowing, one-eyed strongman with a shaved head and tattoos. He is a laid-back "tough guy" who enjoys eating, money, and having sex with Benitsu. He goes along with the other circus members' sadism and fetishes.
  • Benitsu the Snake Woman: The third circus performer – a middle-aged, voluptuous, long-haired, snake-charming woman. She is sadistic and promiscuous. She once tried to solicit sex from Mr. Arashi, but was rejected due to his homosexuality and pedophilia. Despite also taking part in assaulting Midori both violently and sexually, Benitsu would later be the one to defend Midori.
  • Kanabun the Boy-Girl: The fourth circus performer – the fire-swallowing psychopath who is characterized by overt cruelty and bloodlust. He is one of the members who caused Midori's attempt to escape the camp after murdering her adopted puppies without her knowledge and serving them as supper to their peers, which Kanabun implied through taunting her. Though Kanabun is dressed as a dollish girl, the bullying sadist once urinated in front of Midori, then flashed their male genitalia at her while wiggling and masturbating in her face just to freak Midori out before raping her, thus revealing that Kanabun is intersex. However, Kanabun is considered a boy by the other circus members as well as Mr. Arashi's sadomasochistic sex slave.
  • Masamitsu the Bottled Wonder: The fifth circus performer – the charismatic, middle-aged, chubby dwarf magician. He is a master illusionist, using special magic techniques from the West, and can fit into a small bottle. He also manages the circus. Much like Mr. Arashi, Masamitsu is bent on pedophilia, as he chooses Midori as his helper and acts as her "guardian".

Anime film edit

Cover of the 2006 Ciné Malta DVD of the film

Midori (地下幻燈劇画 少女椿, Chika Gentō Gekiga: Shōjo Tsubaki, roughly "Underground Projected Dramatic Pictures: The Camellia Girl") is a 1992 Japanese independent semi-animated ero guro fantasy horror drama film by Hiroshi Harada, based on Suehiro Maruo's comic version of the kamishibai standard. The film (which Harada wrote for the screen and directed under the pseudonym of Hisaaki Etsu (絵津久秋, Etsu Hisaaki)[4] and whom he presents as a lost filmmaker he worked on it under[5]) consists primarily of paintings and cels of drawings by Harada held, panned, or zoomed over with music, sound effects, voice acting, and occasional touches of traditional animation.

In 1994, a censored version of the film was produced for future screenings at the request of Eirin, the Japanese film censor board. This version optically censored nudity, sexual assault, and violence towards animals, while removing discriminatory language from the audio track in the form of audio muting. The 2006 Ciné Malta DVD release of the film contains the original 1992 version, albeit with two short sections intended for audiences at live screenings omitted.

For many years, a videotape transfer of the film was all that was known to exist of the film, aside from censored post-1994 film prints screened at various international film festivals. In 2013, the original 16 mm negative of the film was rediscovered in an IMAGICA warehouse. A new print and digital master were made from this negative and began to be screened in digital format in Japan numerous times. Harada's production company plans to release a restored Blu-ray Disc of the new film master in 2020.

Production edit

The film was single-handedly created by Hiroshi Harada. Given the subject matter, Harada had found it impossible to gain sponsors. He then used his life savings to make the film over a five-year period. Harada hand-drew over 5000 separate sheets of animation.

Screenings edit

The film was for many years very rare to see at all, as Harada will only screen Midori in Japan if the venue is presented as a carnival freak show. From 1994 to 2006, outside of standard definition videotape transfers of the original master, the film was only available in the form of prints with visual and audio censorship in place. However, in 2006, a region 2-locked PAL-style DVD-Video of the film with subtitles in French, English, Spanish, Italian, and German was released in France by Ciné Malta containing the film's original, uncensored version.

Live-action film edit

Midori: The Camellia Girl (映画 少女椿, Eiga Shōjo Tsubaki), a live-action film adaptation of the manga directed by Torico and starring Risa Nakamura [ja] was released in cinemas in Japan on May 21, 2016.[3][6] Other cast members include Shunsuke Kazama, Misaki Morino [ja], Takeru of the band Sug, and Daichi Saeki [ja].[7]

The film was shown in Germany in 2017 at the 18th Japan-Filmfest Hamburg,[8] and it was released on limited edition DVD (limited to 1000 copies in total) with Japanese audio and both German and English subtitles in German-speaking Europe by the distributor Midori-Impuls in 2020.[9]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Screening data". Airtight Lantern Theater Kiryukan. Archived from the original on 25 September 2021. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  2. ^ All Cinema. "映画アニメ 地下幻燈劇画 少女椿 (1992)について 映画データベース" (in Japanese). Stingray. Archived from the original on 25 September 2021. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Midori – The Camellia Girl". Japanese Film Database. Archived from the original on 25 September 2021. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  4. ^地下幻燈劇画%E3%80%80少女椿 [dead link]
  5. ^ "Midori: The Girl in the Freak Show | Zipangu Fest". Archived from the original on 16 November 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Midori/Shōjo Tsubaki Horror Manga Gets Live-Action Film Starring Risa Nakamura". Anime News Network. 11 February 2016. Archived from the original on 16 March 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  7. ^ 少女椿(2016). allcinema (in Japanese). Stingray. Archived from the original on 14 March 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  8. ^ Midori-Impuls (24 April 2017). "Midori präsentiert auf dem 18.JFFH" (in German). Retrieved 24 June 2023 – via Facebook.
  9. ^ Midori-Impuls (17 December 2020). "Midori the Camellia Girl von Torico demnächst verfügbar" (in German). Retrieved 24 June 2023 – via Facebook.

External links edit