愛なのに (Ai Nanoni)
Japan, 2022, 107’, Japanese
Directed by: Jojo Hideo
Screenplay: Imaizumi Rikiya, Jojo Hideo
Photography (color): Watanabe Masaki
Editing: Jojo Hideo
Art Direction: Satosu Yukihisa
Producer: Kubo Kazuaki
Executive Producer: Sato Gen
Cast: Seto Koji, Sato Honami, Kawai Yumi
Date of First Release in Territory: February 25th, 2022
Japanese films in erotic-themed sub-genres – Nikkatsu Roman Porno, “pink film,” “pinky violence” – were a boom business in the 1970s, but since the adult film industry started migrating to home entertainment formats (VHS, DVD) in the 1980s and then to the Internet in the current millennium, they have mostly disappeared from theaters.
Jojo Hideo’s Love Nonetheless, a smart, funny sex comedy based on a script by Jojo and Rikiya Imaizumi, is an attempt at a revival, while being mindful of changing social attitudes. The submissive women found in male-targeted porn flicks are out, laughs at the expense of clueless guys are in. The film is one of two in the “L/R15” collaborative project produced by Sato Gen and distributed by Spotted Productions. The other, “Straying,” which is also rated R-15, is directed by Imaizumi from a script by Imaizumi and Jojo.
Imaizumi is known for light romantic dramas that comment on the lives and loves of modern urbanites, with the 2020 Over the Town being a recent example. Jojo, meanwhile, is something of specialist in erotic films for both the straight-to-video and theatrical markets. By having them join forces, Sato has tried to create a new synergy outside their respective comfort zones and, in Love Nonetheless, has entertainingly succeeded.
The film starts in Imaizumi’s usual low-key-comic style: An introverted used bookstore owner, Tada Koji (Seto Koji), who is nearly thirty but has the bespectacled look and manner of a middle-aged guy, becomes acquainted with a high school girl (Kawai Yumi) who is a store regular in an unusual way: One day, she grabs a book and runs out but, when he gives chase and catches up to her, she tells him she stole it because she saw him reading it. “I love you and want to marry you,” she adds, hardly missing a beat.
And when he stalls her, she comes back again and again with letters for him that all end the same way: Let’s get married. Named Misaki, she makes the shy Koji uncomfortable, but while telling her that her dream of connubial bliss is a nonstarter, the lonely bookseller likes having this cheeky, self-confident girl around. So his “no” is never quite “no.”
Meanwhile, Ikka (Sato Honami), a more age-appropriate woman who painfully dumped Koji, is now about to marry a smooth-talking guy (Nakajima Ayumu) who is carrying on an affair with their cute, capable wedding planner (Kori Yuka). When Ikka finds out he’s been cheating (if not with whom), and confronts him, his blatant lies make her determined to have revenge sex. And nice-guy Koji is the obvious choice of partner.
The film’s explicit eroticism is mixed with laugh-out-loud moments, as when the wedding planner rates the cheating fiancé’s performance in bed as frankly as she might a failed soufflé.
But Love Nonetheless is also surprisingly sweet-spirited, as well as wise about the wayward impulses of the heart, which do not always follow logic or, in Misaki’s case, parental prohibitions. Also, as Koji, Seto Koji delivers a performance finely balanced between the comically nerdy and the passionately emotional, as his character wrestles with his feelings and convictions.
And, yes, to some (such as Misaki’s parents, Koji may be a creep, but to the end he and his teenaged admirer share nothing but each other’s company – and books. None of which are X-rated.
Born in 1975, Jojo Hideo began making 8mm movies while a student at Musashino Art University. In 2003 he made his directorial debut with the pink film Ajimishitai Hitozumatachi, for which he won the Pink Grand Prix newcomer’s prize. His work has been featured in special retros and has won honors in various categories and the 30th Japan Film Professional Award for best director in 2021. Jojo’s 2022 film Love Nonetheless is one of a two-film project with veteran director/scriptwriter Imaizumi Rikiya to make sex comedies for a general audience. He also directed the comedy To Be Killed by a High School Girl, which opened in Japan this April.
FILMOGRAFIA SELEZIONATA / SELECTED FILMOGRAPHY
2008 – Siren X
2008 – The Homeless Is Junior High School Student
2009 – Rinko Eighteen
2009 – Shinjuku Kabukicho Hoikuen
2012 – AV Idol
2018 – Shinjuku Punch
2022 – Love Nonetheless
2022 – To Be Killed by a High School Girl