Tokyo Decadence  

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Tokyo Decadence (Topāzu) is a 1992 Japanese film. The film was directed by Ryu Murakami with music by Ryuichi Sakamoto. The film stars Miho Nikaido and is known by two other titles, Topaz and Sex Dreams of Topaz. It has been banned in Australia and South Korea. Shimada Masahiko appears in the film playing hentai.

A timid Japanese college girl, Ai (lit. "love"), tries to make ends meet as a light SM/bondage girl for hire within a world of lavishly wealthy Tokyo penthouses.

The bulk of the film is comprised of four sex sequences, the first and last involving dildos and mirrors, with the S/M relationship being inverted, the middle two asphyxiation with, again, a reversal of roles. The actual story revolves around Ai's unrequited love for a married gallery artist. At the beginning of the movie Ai visits a fortune-teller who advises her to buy a topaz, wear it around her neck, and avoid a gallery in the east. Ai later loses the stone, later finds it again, later goes to the artist's house, has the police called on her and has the police called off by one of the artist's neighbors whose affair with (but not love for) him has ended.

The general themes of the film are the sterility and coldness of life, and the inability to make a human connection in the modern world.

At least two versions of the film exist, with the shorter one edited more for pacing than for censorship.



Ai, a timid 22-year-old college student in Tokyo, works as a prostitute for an exclusive escort agency that caters to wealthy, perverted men. To please her clients, Ai has to play out elaborate fantasy scenarios involving sexual humiliation and light sadomasochism/bondage.

The first two-thirds of the film consists in large part of four erotic sequences involving sodomy, sadomasochism, submission and bondage. Including dildos and mirrors—one with a perverted male dominant, one with a promiscuous female dominant. The other two involve erotic asphyxiation with, again, one episode in which a necrophiliac attempts to partially asphyxiate the female protagonist and the other in which a drug addicted man is the recipient to the female protagonist. Other acts of fetishes and paraphilias are involved in some of the scenarios.

The last third of the film consists of Ai's attempt to find her ex-lover, a famous Gallery artist.

The actual story however, revolves around Ai's attempt to place herself in the world and understand her life in an attempt to make her own way forward.

This is played out through the juxtaposition of the false closeness of the paid relationships with her decadent clients against her unrequited love for the gallery artist who has ended his relationship with her. The viewer can see that Ai is desperately grasping at this relationship as real in contrast to the simulated fetish relationships of her clients and we learn that she wishes to tell him of her continued love even though he has moved on and been married.

Ai shows an emotional connection to one of her clients, another sex worker who is a female dominant and who Ai clearly admires. Throughout the movie this person is the only person with whom Ai has a free open conversation. This woman delivers a monologue which defines her view of the sex trade as empowering and which is a sentinel defining concept to place the movie itself in a social context. This speech comes at a time when Ai appears to be having difficulties accepting her role as an escort and Ai is shown listening with rapt attention.

Ai confides to this client that she has unrequited love for the gallery artist and Ai's client tells her that she must live life to the fullest otherwise she will be filled with regrets. She tells Ai that she must confront this part of her life then she can move forward as her future will be hers.

At the beginning of the movie we are introduced to Ai's quest to find herself and her direction, She visits a fortune-teller, played by artist Yayoi Kusama, who advises her to find a "pink stone", and then fashion it into a ring.

The fortune teller also advises Ai to put a telephone directory under her television and to avoid a gallery in the east. Ai's view of the ring is important enough that when she later loses the ring she risks her life to recover it.

Throughout the movie Ai looks at a photo of what appears to be her as a child with her mother and which in context represents innocence before life became complicated. Ai appears to refer to it to ground herself perhaps pondering how the happy child has transformed in to what she has become.

Taking the advice of her female client, and an unidentified drug which her client gave her to provide her with the courage of lions, she becomes dangerously inebriated and fails in an attempt to meet her ex lover,

She is rescued from the police by one of the artist's neighbors who is said to have once been a great singer but is now crazy. This woman met Ai only a few minutes earlier and told her that she used to be friends with the Gallery artist but it is over and that she considers Ai to be her "best friend".

Ai who is now sitting dirty and battered, looks at the photo of herself and her mother and destroys it signifying her move away from innocence and her past. In the next scene now clean, she studies the pink stone on her hand and has the faintest trace of a smile twitch across the corner of her mouth. She pulls her hair back as she looks at herself in the mirror and goes off to her usual routine which is also now her her new life, externally the same as her old life but internally different as she has taken control, found herself with the future now belonging to her.

Throughout the film, Ai's movements have been timid and stiff and her posture demure. After the credits there is a sequence of her dancing on stage boldly and fluidly thus finalizing her growth in to her new future.

There are at least two versions of Tokyo Decadence, with the shorter one edited more for pacing than for censorship.

Four "sex sequences"

Three out of four sex sequences heavily feature drugs.

  1. Ai strapped in a reclining chair, blindfolded and gagged. Unknown drug injected into thigh of Ai
  2. Man dips cigarette in cocaine before lighting it, cocaine is cut on Xavier Cugat CD case. Woman asks: "Does he have a hard-on?, I suppose not , since he's been doing cocaine." Image of Ai standing in front of the window is used for DVD case cover.
  3. Mount Fuji, self proclaimed necrophiliac, Ai walks out
  4. Ai helps a rich dominatrix in dominating a man. Afterwards Ai does copious amounts of drugs with dominatrix at the latter's house.


See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Tokyo Decadence" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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