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Tokyo Decadence (ArrowDrome) 
Written by: on October 13th, 2011

Theatrical Release Date: Japan, January 6th, 1992
Director: Ryû Murakami
Writer: Ryû Murakami
Cast: Miho Nikaido, Sayoko Amano, Tenmei Kano, Kan Mikami, Masahiko Shimada, Yayoi Kusama, Chie Sema, Hiroshi Mikami

DVD released: October 24th, 2011
Approximate running time: 112 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: ArrowDrome
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL
Retail Price: £9.99

Synopsis: A young woman filled with self loathing after losing her man to another woman tries to numb her pain while working as an S&M escort.

Tokyo Decadence was written and directed by novelists Ryû Murakami. Many of his novels have been adapted to film with the most memorable adaptation being Takaski Miike’s Audition. The plot for Tokyo Decadence centers around a young woman named Ai who works a call girl who specializes in S&M. Ai is a truly fascinating character even though the plot is essentially built up around a series of Ai sexual encounters that include sparse exchanges of dialog.  Visually Ryû Murakami nearly flawless direction juxtaposition’s images of Tokyo’s bright vibrant outer decor with the darkness that engulfs Ai in the dim lit rooms where she performs her sexual acts.

Miho Nikaido’s riveting performance as Ai is this films greatest asset. Through her convincing performance one cannot but help feel the pain and suffering that Ai is going through. Ai downward descent started at the hands of a lover who rejected her for another woman. Her ultimate goal is regain the love that she has lost. Everyone in Ai’s life uses her and her relationship with another call girl named Saki proves to the most destructive of all. The score was written by Ryuichi Sakamoto (The Last Emperor). The Sex/S&M scenes are not erotic even though they do tend to border on the explicit at times. The downward spiral of the films central character Ai is a dark depressing journey that many will find difficult to stomach. Ultimately Tokyo Decadence is an unflinching tale about loneliness and isolation.

The DVD:

Note: This review is based on a test disc and may not be representative of the final product.

ArrowDrome presents Tokyo Decadence in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. When compared to Cinema Epoch’s DVD release of Tokyo Decadence, this new transfer from ArrowDrome has a softer looking image, that at times looks harsh. There are some mild issues with compression and combing. Also ArrowDrome’s transfer appears to be a standard conversion NTSC to PAL (112 minutes 21 seconds  – Cinema Epoch’s running time, 112 minutes 40 seconds ArrowDrome’s running time).

This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital stereo mix Japanese and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. This audio mix sounds comparable to the one that was used for the aforementioned Cinema Epoch DVD release.

Extras for this release include trailers for Battle Royale, The House by the Cemetery, Deep Red, The Cheerleaders and Obsession, a collectable booklet and reversible cover art. ArrowDrome’s DVD release like the previous DVD releases of Tokyo Decadence is the films 112 minute version. There are rumors of a mythical 135 minute version that has yet to surface on DVD. Overall Tokyo Decadence gets a lackluster release from ArrowDrome.

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