The Naked Director Season 1 Review: Only In Japan

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: August 8, 2019 (Last updated: last month)
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The Naked Director (Netflix) Season 1 review


Here’s a story so absurd that it could only be true, presented with plenty of humor and — fittingly — as revealingly as possible.

The Naked Director Season 1 was released on Netflix today, August 8th. This review is spoiler-free.

The Naked Director is about sex. Of course, it’s the true story of Japanese filmmaker Toru Muranishi, who, during the ’80s economic boom, turned the nation’s porn industry — and a lot of its women — upside down. So, it’s about sex in that sense, as an industry, as something that sells. But it’s also about sex in relationships, sex as recreation, sex as a biological imperative. It’s there right from the opening scene and never goes away. There are more orgasmic moans in these eight episodes than there is spoken dialogue.

That might be just as well — none of the dubbing matches the subtitles anyway, almost as a sneaky reminder of how the audio and video in porn never seems to be in sync. But The Naked Director is a story about excess, told excessively. It pretty much has to be. But its willingness to show so much is tempered by a kind of defensive absurdity. It leans completely into silliness to offset the reality that the first thing we see Muranishi do is e*******e into a toilet.

We meet him, slightly post-ejaculation, as a struggling salesman of English encyclopedias. Through some Wolf of Wall Street-style unconventional sales tutelage, he’s able to get a feel for it, honing his craft in an absurd scene by claiming to a tattooed gangster that the knowledge will make him better at being a criminal and having sex. He’s on his way to entrepreneurship. That’s until his company gets robbed and he goes home to find his dissatisfied wife being satisfied by another man.

This isn’t just an affair. Remember, The Naked Director is about sex, and so the affair is about sex. Muranishi wasn’t able to please his wife sexually, so she turned to someone who could. It’s a lightbulb moment for him. Sex is important. To some people, it’s everything. So, when he meets Toshi (Shinnosuke Mitsushima), a peddler of illicitly-recorded sexcapades and dirty magazines, he sees an opportunity. You have a fair idea of where all this is going.

The path The Naked Director takes to get there is winding and frequently bizarre, littered with comedic mishaps. But it’s also a pretty compelling snapshot of period Japan in a maelstrom of economic and cultural expansion. The rules are all changing, which makes the oddities of the story more plausible — the fact it really happened, in turn, makes the series more watchable. The question is whether dialing up the extremes quite this much has the intended effect. Some moments of apparent seriousness were difficult to take as such. But that’ll depend on each viewer’s sensibilities, I suppose, and it’s easy to imagine a Netflix series about porn will find plenty of keen viewers. Either way, Muranishi’s success is pretty evident; I wouldn’t be surprised if his story does quite well too.

Netflix, TV, TV Reviews
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