Chika Gentou Gekiga: Shoujo Tsubaki (found “Ero Guro” anime film; 1992)

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This article has been tagged as NSFL due to its disturbing subject matter/visuals.



Shojotsubaki.jpg

Cover for the movie.

Status: Found

In 1987, Hiroshi Harada, a Japanese storyboarder who worked for various animation studios under trade, began work on a self-funded anime adaptation of Suehiro Maruo's 1984 manga Shōjo Tsubaki. Harada had attempted to gain sponsors for his film, but nobody was willing to support it due to its graphic imagery. Because of this, Harada was forced to animate and fund the entire film by himself, with the exception of voice acting done by an unknown cast. The task was so painstaking, with reportedly over 5,000 sheets of animation of work that had to be done, that voice recording did not commence until the summer of 1991, and Harada did not finish producing the film until 1992.

The film, titled Chika Gentō Gekiga: Shōjo Tsubaki (地下幻燈劇画 少女椿 roughly meaning Underground Projected Drama: Camellia Girl), also known as just Midori, premiered on May 2nd, 1992 "inside a giant red tent inside the grounds of the Mitake Jinja Shinto shrine in Tokyo” with a 52 minute runtime. Following the premiere, the film would begin to be shown throughout the world in its original form until 1994, when Eirin, the Japanese film censor board, demanded the film be edited to meet Japanese standards. According to Hiroshi Harada’s production company in a 2020 interview with Lost Media Wiki user bun39, female nudity, sexual violence, and violence towards animals were optically censored using blurring techniques, and discriminatory language was muted. Fortunately, a telecine transfer in standard definition had been made before any of the film’s edits were made. However, it was unknown if any film survived of the original uncensored version.

In 2006, Perisian company Ciné Malta licensed the film and released a PAL DVD of the film in limited quantities. This DVD contains a 48 minute cut of the film, and was widely believed to be the censored version of the film for years, until 2020, when Hiroshi Harada’s production company interviewed with Lost Media Wiki bun39, and stated that “in the 52-minute original, there is a narration at the beginning of a commentary on the "Underground Lantern Playhouse," and ... midway through the film, there is a scene in which the theater goes black and the loud sound of an earthquake is played.“ These scenes had been excised from the DVD version of the film as they were intended solely for theatre viewing. During the same interview, it was confirmed that the DVD version contained the original uncensored version of the film.

In 2013, the original 16 mm negative of the film was rediscovered in the back of an IMAGICA warehouse (a Japanese editing studio). Harada’s production company proceeded to strike a new uncensored print from this negative, as well as a 1080p digital master, and screened both at Japanese film festivals. A Blu-ray release of this version has been hinted at, but no official announcements have been made regarding it.


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