With 'The Naked Director,' Japan scores a global Netflix hit
Japan Times -- Sep 13
Since its launch on Aug. 8, the Netflix series “The Naked Director” has become a certifiable hit. Its audience score on the Rotten Tomatoes ratings site is 97 percent, and on the series’ IMDB page, positive user reviews (“Truly amazing, realistic and captivating,” “You will find tears, laughter, passion”) far outnumber the negative.

Netflix does not release audience numbers, so the show’s exact reception in the 190 countries the streaming service covers is something of a question mark. But there is proof Netflix is pleased: It has decided to underwrite a second season.

In Japan, critics and journalists have penned lengthy analyses of the series’ success. A common observation is that “The Naked Director,” which traces the career of 1980s porn director and entrepreneur Toru Muranishi (Takayuki Yamada) and his star actress, Kaoru Kuroki (Misato Morita), could have never been made as a network show here.

For one thing, the explicit sex scenes, many shot with Muranishi directing or participating in the action — in his trademark white briefs, no less — would never pass network censors. The show’s heavily fictionalized story, based on Nobuhiro Motohashi’s book on Muranishi, could have conceivably been made into a film, but the inevitable R-18 rating would have likely meant a smaller release and budget.

But with Netflix, the conventional standards and strictures of the Japanese entertainment business go out the window. Supported by a generous (but undisclosed) budget, a team of writers spent nearly a year crafting a script, with Jason George, a producer on the 2015 hit Netflix series “Narcos,” serving as a consultant.

Supervising director Masaharu Take and episode directors Hayato Kawai and Eiji Uchida had access to a top-flight cast, led by A-lister Takayuki Yamada, as well as the use of an open set that re-created bubble era Shinjuku in meticulous detail. Noting the series’ “high quality,” Hayato Otsuki of IGN Japan says, “‘The Naked Director’ shows Japanese dramas can still compete at a world level.”

However, not all reviewers were enthralled. While calling the series “a raucous, gritty tale of Japan’s pornographic revolution” that “swings between cable comedy and prestige drama,” critic Brenden Gallagher of The Daily Dot noted that “some of the material … would be taboo or even misogynistic by American standards.”

News source: Japan Times
Jan 28
Between January 24 and 30, some 700,000 Chinese tourists are expected to arrive in Japan to celebrate the Chinese New Year. (tokyoreporter.com)
Jan 27
Osamu Yano, a former gang boss on death row over the killing of four persons nearly two decades ago, has died in prison in an apparent suicide, the Ministry of Justice said, reports TBS News (Jan. 26). (tokyoreporter.com)
Jan 27
A farewell ceremony for Japanese doctor Tetsu Nakamura, who was killed in Afghanistan in December, was held Saturday attended by about 5,000 people paying respect for his longtime contribution to development of the central Asian country. (Japan Today)
Jan 25
A former care home worker accused of mass killings in Japan has rejected his lawyers' argument that he is mentally unfit to stand trial. (NHK)
Jan 24
A 73-year-old man arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty kept 73 dogs at his home in Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture, police said. (Japan Today)
Jan 24
A 61-year-old postman failed to deliver thousands of postal items that he kept at his home instead, police said Thursday. (Kyodo)
Jan 23
Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested a 49-year-old man who is suspected of drugging and raping dozens of women over the past three years, reports NHK (Jan. 22). (tokyoreporter.com)
Jan 23
A woman and three children were found stabbed to death in a car in a park in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on Wednesday morning. (Japan Today)
Jan 22
Dangerous stunt by Japanese civil servant gets slammed online. (soranews24.com)
Jan 21
Okayama Prefectural Police are questioning a man after a woman was fatally stabbed and her husband injured at their residence in Okayama City earky Saturday, reports TV Asahi (Jan. 20). (tokyoreporter.com)