Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 29th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1972
Director: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
Writers: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, Isao Matsumoto
Cast: Meiko Kaji, Tsunehiko Watase, Akiko Koyama, Koji Nanbara, Hiroshi Ueda, Tatsuo Umemiya
DVD released: May 19th, 2009
Approximate running time: 86 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese
DVD Release: Synapse Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
Wandering Ginza Butterfly was directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi who also directed Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams, Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless to Confess, Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2: She-Cat Gambler, Sister Street Fighter, Sister Street Fighter 2, Sister Street Fighter 3, Karate Bull Fighter, Karate Bear Fighter, Karate for Life, Wolfman vs. the Supernatural, Dragon Princess and Karate Warriors.
The plot for Wandering Ginza Butterfly revolves around a young woman named Nami who life of crime as a youth landed her in prison after she killed a Yakuza boss. After her release from prison she tries to go straight only to be quickly drawn back into her former life. The plot evolves at a nice pace that allows the characters time to establish themselves and their motives. The Nami character is at times very reminiscent to the Mako character that Meiko Kaji played in the film Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter.
Where its sequel Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2: She-Cat Gambler would focus more on the world of gambling halls, Wandering Ginza Butterfly is rooted in the world of billiards. The most memorable sequence in Wandering Ginza Butterfly is a billiards duel in which Nami takes on the yakuza’s best billiards player. The use of flashbacks is another one of this film’s visual highlights. Violence wise Wandering Ginza Butterfly is not at the level that it would be in its sequel Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2: She-Cat Gambler. The film’s most brutal moment doesn’t come until he film’s bloody finale.
Wandering Ginza Butterfly would mark Mieko Kaji’s debut in a Toei film. Performance wise the Nami character is a more well rounded character than the icy detached characters that Meiko Kaji would often portray. Her standout moment in the film is the scene where she finally comes face to face with the widow of the man she killed and begs for forgiveness. The score for Wandering Ginza Butterfly was composed by Toshiaki Tsushima who also composed the score for Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2: She-Cat Gambler. Some of his other notable scores include Ohyaku: The Female Demon, Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless to Confess, The Streetfighter and the Battles without Honor and Humanity films. Ultimately Wandering Ginza Butterfly is a well made crime drama that is anchored by a superb performance from Meiko Kaji.
Synapse Films presents Wandering Ginza Butterfly in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. This transfer has been flagged for progressive playback. Colors look nicely saturated, flesh tones look natural, black levels are solid and details look crisp throughout. This is another strong transfer from Synapse Films that is on par with their transfers for the other Toei film that they have released on DVD.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in Japanese and removable English subtitles have been included. The audio sounds clean, clear and evenly balanced. There are no problems with distortion or any other audio defects.
Extras for this release include trailers for Wandering Ginza Butterfly (3 minutes 17 seconds – in Japanese with removable English subtitles) and Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2: She-Cat Gambler (2 minutes 52 seconds – in Japanese with removable English subtitles). Other extras include an extensive text bio about Meiko Kaji written by Chris D., a selected filmography for Meiko Kaji and a Meiko Kaji poster gallery with twenty six images. The main extra included with this release is an audio commentary with Japanese Film Expert Chris D., who discusses girl delinquent films, Meiko Kaji, comedey in Toei films, screenwriter Isao Matsumoto, director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi and background info on the majority of the cast and crew. Rounding out the extras is a with director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (37 minutes 27 seconds – in Japanese with removable English subtitles), who gives a career overview which covers how he got into the film business, working with Reiko Oshida on the Delinquent Girl Boss films, working with Meiko Maji, working with Sonny Chiba, working with Sue Shinomi, the Wandering Ginza Butterfly films, his involvement on the film Female Prisoner Scorpion 701, The Sister Streeetfighter films, The Karate for Life trilogy, casting and working with an American porn actress named Sharon Kelly on the film “Shikijo Turko Nikki”. Also make sure you check out a few extras comments from Kazuhiko Yamaguchi that appear after the ends credits. Also included with this release is a reversible covert art that includes the film’s original poster art. Overall Wandering Ginza Butterfly gets a exceptional DVD release from Synapse Films that is highlighted by the insightful audio commentary with Chris D., highly recommended.