Angel Guts: Red Porno (1981) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

You probably know that the American film industry lost more than 80% of its business in the quarter century between 1946 and 1971. Faced with ever-increasing competition from television, total ticket sales dropped in that period from 4.8 billion to 0.7 billion. Lagging slightly behind in time, Japanese theaters eventually faced the same sorts of attendance problems. That time-lag behind the States turned out to be serendipitous for the Japanese studios. The American studios had not been able to respond properly to the TV threat in the 1946-64 period. The logical counter-move would have been to offer sensational content that could not be shown on television, but that move was blocked because the Hays Code forbade it. The situation was different in Japan. The decline started later, and the studios were able to respond earlier. As early as 1961, they were responding to the TV threat by showing Japanese audiences what they could not see on their home screens: sex and violence. The so-called "pink films," cheap softcore porn efforts with violent themes, were born in the early sixties. Nikkatsu Studio was not among the pinku pioneers. Nikkatsu produced action films throughout the sixties, but when they say how profitable pink films had become, they created their own line, the "Roman Porno" (Romantic Pornography) sub-genre in 1971. The idea behind the Roman Porno erotic product line was to package the theretofore sleazy pinku within a more commercially accessible format, featuring mainstream performers who could also be seen elsewhere in non-porn performances. It is worth mentioning that, although the Japanese have adapted the word "porno" into their language, it doesn't have the same stigma that it does in English.

The concept worked so well that Nikkatsu ceased all other production and made nothing but Roman Porno films for 18 years, enough of them to stock theaters constantly with fresh triple bills. Unlike the competing "Pinky Violence" films from rival Toei Studios, some of the Nikkatsu directors included genitals in the scenes as they were filmed, but always blurred the genitalia in the distributed versions in order to placate the Japanese censors. The pixelation of pubic hair is very annoying to foreigners who watch the films, but that is simply a given in Japanese cinema. In fact, some of Japan's stricter moral guardians felt that even when the view was pixelated, it was arousing to think of what was behind the blur!

The Angel Guts series is one of the later of the Roman Porno efforts from Nikkatsu. It is based on a popular sex-and-violence Manga series, the Japanese equivalent of a series of R-rated "comic books" or "graphic novels." The term "angel" represents the idealized woman, a model of purity and goodness, while the "guts," according to Japanese popular expressions, are the seat of all feelings and motivations, used in Japanese speech as we would use "heart" in English. Thus the title implies the conflict between the spotless image of modern women and the reality of their lives and desires. The common threads, besides sex and violence, are that they all feature an abused woman named Nami Tsuchiya, and an oppressive male character named Tetsuro Muraki. 

The first four Angel Guts films were made by top Nikkatsu directors, and the competent execution combined with the popularity of the graphic novels made it one of their most successful series. Takashi Ishii, the original creator of the Manga efforts as well as the author of four of the five screenplays, directed the last one.

"Tenshi no harawata: Akai inga" (Red Porno) is the fourth in the Angel Guts sequence, and it was directed by Toshiharu Ikeda from Ishii's screenplay.

The others:

(Ishii did write and direct another Angel Guts film several years later, but not for the same studio.)


This time, Nami (Jun Izumi) is a junior sales clerk in a posh department store. She is no stranger to physical pleasure, and we seen her tossing off in one creative way or anther as soon as she gets home from work each day. As a favor to a friend, she subs for a photo shoot one night, and that proves to be a serious mistake because the shoot was for a B&D magazine called "Red Porno." This came to the attention of her married boss, who took her to dinner, got her drunk, and took her to a love hotel. When the boss' wife discovers Nami's magazine spread and recognizes her from the store, he turns her in and gets her fired as a slut moonlighting as a porno star. Nami, as is expected in the Angel Guts series, ends up forming a relationship with Muraka.

Muraka is a nerd, given to masturbating in unison with the school girl (Kyoko Ito) across from his apartment. Of course, she is an inspiration. You wouldn't believe what she does with a raw egg, a condom, and three sharp pencils. Also, some pervert is making obscene phone calls and stealing women's underwear. We are to expect, as the neighbors do, that Muraka is the pervert.

Eventually we finally get to the obligatory rape and tragic ending.

Ikeda is interviewed in the special features, and his interview is a "must watch." He became a director accidentally. While in college, he was out drinking with friends, and the woman next to him at the bar seemed to know a lot about movies. As he was a movie fan, he expounded on his theories, and she became angry, saying that if he knew so much about movies, he could probably direct one. When he agreed, she gave him her card. She was a scriptwriter at Nikkatsu. The next day, he showed up for an interview, but was told he would need a four-year degree to be hired. Relieved, he joined her for tea in the employee cafeteria, where she was sitting with two men who were in desperate need for an assistant director for the film they were starting the next day. She offered Ikeda's services and, since he had no degree, she said he would work free of charge.

Ikeda welcomed a chance to do Roman Porno at Nikkatsu, as he had wanted to explore sexy cinema anyway, and the idea of delving into real women, as opposed to romanticized cup dolls, appealed to him. While Ikeda claims to be a reluctant director who was much happier as an assistant, I think that was partially modesty talking, and partially beer, since he drank constantly through the interview. Of all the Japanese directors interviewed for this excellent set, Toshiharu Ikeda was the most likable. I suppose it is not a surprise that I liked his film very much as well. Surprisingly, Ikeda was not originally slated to direct at all, but was brought in at the 11th hour, as Ishii was finishing the screenplay. It was slated for an already advertised December 25 release, and he had 10 days to film it.

This particular one is the sexiest of the five in the series. The masturbation scenes, while soft core, are very hot, and most of the sex is consensual and passionate. In fact, the plot, although coherent, seems more like glue to tie the sex scenes together. It is the shortest of the five, but otherwise offers the same high quality as the others in the series.

This is a fascinating series, presented well, with worthwhile special features and good transfers. Since these were all made by film professionals with the resources of Japan's oldest studio behind them, the quality is solid. They were intended to be shocking, and are still shocking today, especially to Western audiences. They were also the cream of the Roman Porno offerings.  



  • Available Subtitles: English
  • Available Audio Tracks: Japanese 
  • High School Co-ed, Red Classroom, Nami, Red Porno, Red Vertigo
  • Seven exclusive director's interviews
  • Five feature-length commentaries
  • Original sleeve art
  • Original trailers
  • Bios/filmographies


  • Jun Izumi, as Nami, shows breasts and buns in several sex and several masturbation scenes. You really need to see how she used a furniture leg.

  • Kyoko Ito, as the schoolgirl, shows breasts during her masturbation scene and during a rape.

  • An unidentified actress, as the boss' wife, shows breasts having sex in a bathtub.

The Critics Vote ...

  • on file

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this particular film is a C+, and the entire 5-film box set is a very high C+. If you have any interest in Roman Porno, Asian cinema, the Japanese depiction of rape in the 70s and 80s, or Manga adaptations, this set is a "must own."

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