DVD Review: EROTIBOT Starring (Or At Least Getting Naked) Maria Ozawa
Tomomatsu's "Karei Naru Erogami-ke No Ichizoku: Shinsô Reijô Wa Denki Shitsuji No yume O Miru Ka" (aka. "Erotibot" as it is known in Western markets, or even "Nippon Splatterotics 3") sure looks appealing on paper: a humorous and somewhat naughty take on the humanoid android sub-genre, written and directed by one of the co-creators of the very funny "Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl".
That kind of low-budget cinema has to be gimmicky to stand out, and you can hardly get more gimmicky than casting Japan's current most popular pornstar Maria Ozawa in your science fiction comedy. Apparently science fiction agrees with her because she went on to act in "Tokyo Species", which tries to do to "Species" what "Erotibot" tries to do to "Blade Runner".
Bounty Films has released "Karei Naru Erogami-ke No Ichizoku: Shinsô Reijô Wa Denki Shitsuji No yume O Miru Ka" in the UK on DVD, understandably using its shorter title "Erotibot", and I got to see it.
So my question is: what the hell went wrong here? Because "Erotibot" is neither funny nor erotic.
And that would conclude my review. Oh well, I will elaborate somewhat...
Tamayo is the young illegitimate daughter of a billionaire, and as the heiress to his financial empire she is kept safe and secluded in her mansion. Her only companions are the three servant androids her father has bought for her. "Number 1" is handsome and multitalented, "Number 2" is a superstrong military model and "Number 3" is a clumsy butler. Malfunctioning or not, "Number 3" is the most gentle and human of the three, and has developed a romantic crush on Tamayo. When she comes of age and starts her adult education, "Number 3" gets very confused indeed.
Meanwhile Tsukiyo, the legitimate granddaughter of the billionaire is not amused. Gramps is about to die, and the will points to her aunt Tamayo as the person who will inherit everything. Tsukiyo and her ninja handmaiden Azami plan to kill Tamayo, but to do that they need to get past the androids, particularly "Number 3"...
A peek (oo-er!) behind the scenes here at ScreenAnarchy: we do note which entries in search engines like Google make people end up at our site, often to great amusement. Years ago, a seizable chunk of our traffic was made up of fans of Japanese AV-star Sola Aoi, as we were one of the few non-porn sites which had some articles on her.
That has changed though: these days the big search entry is Japanese AV-star Maria Ozawa. Our article about the trailer for "Tokyo Species" gets hit every minute just because she is in it, and that has been going on for more than half a year already.
Well, I hope for people eagerly anticipating "Tokyo Species" that it is a LOT better than "Erotibot" is.
For this is a bad kind of bad movie: one that fails to entertain and quickly becomes quite boring. Its full title is a wordplay on "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", the Philip K. Dick story on which "Blade Runner" was based. There are lots of references to that classic film as well, but all are groan-inducing. For example, the three androids have been constructed by Dr. Philip K. Dick.
Get it? It's a joke. A Dick joke even. And a reference as well, how clever. Sadly this is as good as it gets.
Low-budget films are often great fun to watch because of the ingenuity on display, especially when the director is trying to hide the low budget. But here low-budget just means a lack of money. The cast consists of a grand total of six people and they line-read their way through the scenes. Some sets are clearly unfinished and lack details like... a ceiling, for instance. Yes, the studio roof makes a few cameo appearances here, and not in a haha-funny way either.
As for the erotic content, a pretty girl undressing is hard to make uninteresting but Tomomatsu comes close to achieving it. The nudity has a distinct home-video feel to it and is tragically unglamorous, especially when you consider we are supposed to see beautiful young rich people debauching themselves in a sex comedy.
Maria Ozawa and Asami share some chemistry as the evil sadistic nymphomaniac villains of the piece but neither is given enough to do to shine. Basically Maria gets to show off her assets a few times and Asami gets to show off her scowl.
In the end, "Erotibot" just doesn't show any of the inventiveness of the recent films by Noboru Iguchi and Yoshihiro Nishimura. It's baffling as I consider "Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl" to be one of the best and funniest titles out of that stable, and it's weird to see "Erotibot" share a writer and a director with that movie...
This is a film created with thrillseekers in mind, only it hardly contains any thrills to speak of as the sex and humor both fall flat. I cannot even recommend this to fans of Japanese splattergore as there is hardly any splattergore in it.
About the DVD:
First things first: there are two cuts of "Erotibot" doing the rounds. One is the 72-minute regular version shown at the odd festival and released in English-speaking territories, the other is an "extended edition" which contains an additional 15 minutes of softporn.
The version out on DVD in the UK is the shorter cut which, granted, may be the reason why I dislike the film so much. The extended bits are not included here, nor are they in the extras as "deleted scenes".
That is not Bounty Films' fault as nobody in English-speaking territories has managed to secure the rights to the longer, racier version, and the version on the disc is the actual theatrical film (and not a "cut" version of a longer original).
AV-quality is good enough with two Japanese soundtracks and decent (haha) subtitles which also cover many of the signs.
Then we get to the extras, which are the trailer and two big interviews. First up is Asami who answers questions for ten minutes. It looks a bit like a web-event as the moderators read up fan-created questions but there is quite some interesting information there. Asami is her usual funny and hyper self and very candid about her past in the AV-industry. Next up is Maria Ozawa who gets the same treatment for twenty minutes. Her answers are a bit more reserved, but where Asami's talk was in Japanese Maria's interview is entirely held in very serviceable English. The two interviews together are easily more interesting than the film they accompany.
So there you have it: a pretty good disc for a pretty lousy film.
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