Written by: Michael Den Boer on December 8th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 2010
Director: Shinji Imaoka
Writers: Shinji Imaoka, Fumio Moriya
Cast: Sawa Masaki, Yoshiro Umezawa, Ai Narita, Mutsuo Yoshioka
DVD released: November 21st, 2011
Approximate running time: 83 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
DVD Release: Third Window Films
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £8.99
Synopsis: A thirty five year old woman, who has finally come to terms with the direction that her life is going. That is until she reunited with a childhood friend, who has been reincarnated as a Kappa. And her whole life is turned upside down.
Underwater Love was co-written and directed by Shinji Imaoka, a veteran of the Pink film genre, who is most known for Uncle’s Paradise. The cinematographer on Underwater Love was Christopher Doyle, who is most known for his collaborations with director Kar Wai Wong. The score / musical numbers for Underwater Love were composed by the German / French duo Stereo Total, who’s style encompasses a wide range of musical genres.
Though Underwater Love follows many of the genre conventions that one would associate with Pinku film genre. Most notably a sizable amount of screen time devoted sex scenes and moments in which cast members are in various stages of undress. It would be a great disservice to categorize this film as merely a Pinku film, with some music thrown in for good measure. Especially since the music plays just as an important role as the aforementioned moments of erotica in the grander scheme of things. And while there is no denying that this is a very adult oriented story, the more fantasy oriented aspects of the story at hand, have a playful innocence about them.
Narrative wise, there is a mechanical feel to the events which unfold. There are no real surprises along the way as the film is made up of three type of moments sex scenes, character driven moments and musical numbers. By the time the narrative gets through this cycle for third / fourth time around, things have become redundant by then.
Without a doubt this films most striking and durable asset is its visuals, which do a remarkable job considering the limitations of this production. On the other hand though, the make-up effects for the Kappa characters are crudely designed and always call attention to themselves. Fortunately this is but a small bump in the road, since the entire cast give enthusiastic performances that draw you into this most unusual tale about living life to its fullest.
Third Window Films presents Underwater Love in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Considering that this film was shot quickly and on a anemic budget, the image looks pretty good all things considered. Colors and flesh tones look accurate and there are no problems with compression. Black levels though are at best average, fortunately this in not a major issue since the majority of the film takes place during daylight.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in Japanese and removable English subtitles have been included. The audio sound great as dialog is always clear, everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (1 minute 13 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and a second trailer titled ‘First Look Trailer’ (2 minutes 53 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), three brief on set glimpses titled ‘Pink Porcupines’, interview with co-screenwriter / director Shinji Imaoka (14 minutes 52 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles) and three interview with cinematographer Christopher Doyle, the first one titled ‘Film Set Interview’ (3 minutes 1 second – anamorphic widescreen), the second one titled ‘Hotel Room’ (8 minutes 51 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and the third one titled ‘Hair Salon’ (25 minutes 10 seconds – anamorphic widescreen). Topics discussed in Christopher Doyle’s interview include erotica cinema, Pink films, his creative process, how Underwater Love was shot in just five days and working with actors. Topics discussed in the interview with Shinji Imaoka include the definition of what a Pink film is, he also gives translations for several Pink film titles, casting, sex scenes and what is was like to make a musical themed Pink film. Also included with this release are trailers for Villain, Sawako Decides, Cold Fish, Confessions, Confessions of a Dog, Memories of Matsuko, Kamikaze Girls, Kakera Piece of Love, Fish Story, Lala Pipo, Love Exposure, Instant Swamp, Fine Totally Fine, Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers, Funuke Show Some Love, You Losers! and Dasepo Naughty Girls. Overall Underwater Love gets a strong release from Third Window Films.
Note: The first 2,000 copies include a limited edition soundtrack CD by Stereo Total.