[From May Issue 2010]
Juvenile Jungle (Directed by NAKAHIRA Ko)
This original story was written by the present governor of Tokyo ISHIHARA Shintaro, who is also a known novelist. Ishihara, who wrote the script, approved the making of the film on the condition that his younger brother, Yujiro, play the leading role. Shot on location in Zushi and neighboring Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, where the brothers spent their youth, the film depicts the lives of university students raised in a wealthy family, whose days are full of womanizing, fighting and sibling rivalry.
TAKISHIMA Natsuhisa (ISHIHARA Yujiro) and his younger brother, Haruji (TSUGAWA Masahiko) are the main characters. In comparison, Natsuhisa is taller, more skilled at picking up women and at winning fights, while Haruji is more slender and serious, and tends to gets treated like a child among his brother’s friends. One day, on his way to one of Natsuhisa’s friend’s villa, Haruji finds himself attracted to a woman he sees at the train station.
That same day, Natsuhisa and his friends plan an unusual party featuring a woman pick-up contest. Whoever brings the most attractive woman will be the winner. Haruji immediately thinks about the woman he met earlier that day. Then a few days later, while water-skiing, Haruji sees another attractive woman swimming just offshore.
When Haruji realizes that the woman swimming is the same one he met a few days earlier, he gets nervous. Natsuhisa, in his suave manner, chats-up the woman and then carries her ashore. Later, by coincidence, Haruji sees her yet again at the station and, finally learning that her name is AMAKUSA Eri (KITAHARA Mie), he invites her to the party. Natsuhisa and his friends are surprised when the shy Haruji arrives at the villa with beautiful Eri.
Haruji and Eri continue to date but he never learns her address because she keeps telling him that “My mother is quite strict.” One night, Natsuhisa discovers that Eri has an American husband, and threatens to expose her secret to Haruji unless she has sex with him. Natsuhisa is irritated to learn that Eri is still genuinely drawn to Haruji, with a pure heart, even after they had sex.
One day, Haruji invites Eri to go camping. Natsuhisa gets to their meeting point earlier than Haruji and takes Eri to his yacht. After searching all night, Haruji finally finds them both. Haruji remains silent, but there is anger in his eyes. Eri, wanting to be with Haruji, jumps in to the water to swim to his boat, but without saying a word, he just runs her over. Then he rams into Natsuhisa’s yacht, breaking it to pieces, and just keeps going.
Released in 1956, this movie greatly influenced many young Japanese people. With the earlier release of “Season of the Sun” (original story by Ishihara Shintaro) that same year, youth called “taiyouzoku” (sun tribes), who ignored common sense to live carefree lives, made Shonan Beach increasingly popular. Ishihara Yujiro, who became a big star following this movie, eventually married Kitahara Mie, who played his love interest.