I’ve often wondered whether Japanese “pink” movies have ever been critically acclaimed much like regular movies? Pink movies are a very different animal, most people see them as an excuse to shoot women in the nude and to film simulated sex scenes but if you pay attention, it may well be the types of erotica that George Romero may shoot because of their powerful social commentaries. Well, I have to tell you that Sachiko Hanai
has won several film awards in Japan and this 2009, well, director Naoyuki Tom Matsu’s (who directed “Stacy“) “MAID DROID” has achieved a near grand slam win by winning a lot of major awards in the Pink Grand Prix Awards that includes best picture and best director. I did like “Maid Droid”; it is an odd blend of sci-fi, a love story, horror and a fairy tale. Oh, ex-JAV-actress Akiho Yoshizawa stars as the lead together with AV-actress Anri Suzuki; do I have your attention yet?
In an unknown future, Ueno (who grows up as Masayoshi Nagami) is a young man who was raised by his parents’ prototype cyborg maid named Maria (Akiho Yoshizawa). Ueno and Maria lived a quiet life that was fulfilling for both. Maria is loyal, faithful and committed, the only thing she lacks is the ability to have sex. When Ueno tries to upgrade her with some (ahem) erotic features, Maria’s ran dry leaving an aging Ueno to fend for himself. But he remains true to Maria as he keeps her unmoving body even though it is no longer functional.
Meanwhile, in the urban areas of Japan, there is a machine serial rapist that is at large; Detective Yuri Akagi (Anri Suzuki) is on the case and is determined to find the automated sexual predator. She finds a warped puppet called Mr. X who knows the secret of the serial rapist; time may be running out for both Yuri and the oddball pair of Ueno and Maria…
Can a machine have a soul? We’ve all seen movies that go into this premise. Spielberg’s “A.I.” and Oshii’s “Ghost in the Shell” are prime examples. Well, Tomomatsu aims to take this premise in a rather sexy level as Akiho Yoshizawa is primed and ready to portray a robot maid. The film starts off with Uneo taking care of a powerless robot, we see their history as master and maid, friends and finally, Ueno begins to love his robot maid because of her faithfulness and kindness for him. The question is does Maria do this because of her programming or did she really learn to develop true feelings? If you are familiar with the story of Pinocchio, the piece of wood that had the extra pieces chipped away to reveal the real boy then you’ll be at home with “Maid Droid”.
Aside from its light-hearted tone the film also has a strong commentary about human relationships. In this Japan, this country has become almost sexless; the rich and good-looking men and women only hang out with each other leaving the ordinary people to find their own ways to amuse themselves. Women have “Dog Bots” (get it? Men are dogs) while men have their android sex partners. Men prefer the more submissive, loyal and loving cyborgs even though they are expensive. Why? In this Japan women cheat a lot; robots are more loyal to men. Women on the other hand, have different fantasies according to the film; they prefer to be with men who cheat, lie and just likes sex. I was rather impressed as to how the director was just gutsy in making his commentary. I really don’t know what is going on in Japan currently, but clearly the film’s screenplay is aimed at those who have no luck with women and women who have no luck with men. It is a little unnerving as to how it the film made such a strong statement.
The film's sci-fi qualities generate its tiltilation factors; as we see an underground company in Akiba go beyond safety protocols to install modifications on the androids. The modifications were really funny, and quite frankly very creative. Count on the Japanese to be able to come up with the silliest things about this concept of a maid droid as a sex toy. They say a maid droid is cheaper than dating, marriage and divorce put together; and it is more loyal and loving.
The sex scenes in the film were actually a little watered down than the ones I’ve seen in pink movies. Viewers do get to see Akiho Yoshizawa and Anri Suzuki in the nude a lot but they weren’t as lewd as other pink movies (sorry, no full frontal nudity). Other Jav-actresses such as Yoko Satomi and Mari Yamaguchi make appearances just to add more ‘skin’. The scenes of sexual assault seemed a little toned down, but it was rather freaky (but oh so campy) to see the machine rapist in the film’s last act. (like “Jaws” you don’t see the whole thing until near the end). There are some sex scenes but I didn’t find them offensive at all; but in fact they were a little funny.
“Maid Droid” is a pink movie with a heart as it pays more attention to its story than just use it as an excuse to display nudity and sex. While I did like it, folks who are looking for a spicier “pink” movie may be a little disappointed; it is also a little short clocking in at a mere 74 minutes. In a way, it makes for a good ‘date movie’ but make sure you Girlfriend is very open-minded to see the film’s heart.
Recommended! To fans of Japanese cinema [3 ½ Stars]