The gyaru with the dragon tattoo: Emergence of bad-girl porn in Japan

Spa! May 2-9
Spa! May 2-9

In recent years, Japan’s adult video (AV) industry has suffered due to the prevalence of digital downloads and, most recently, claims by actresses who say they were forced to appear in productions.

One bright spot has been the emergence of the female yankii, or juvenile delinquent, in leading roles, at least according to weekly tabloid Spa! (Apr. 25). The genre represents a shift away from the polished, smiling starlets with designer handbags, common fare for major labels, toward lower-budget titles centered around yankii girls, pictured slinging aluminum baseball bats.

In February of last year, Yoshihito Otsuka, a producer at AV production company Big Morkal, launched the first of the popular “This Yankii Gal Is Too Cute” series, whose titles target fans of the current AV generation.

“The odds were in our favor,” he tells the magazine. “Yankii titles have been around since way back, but they were all about a girl being screwed by a guy, or a girl abusing a guy, and none of them had a scenario where a girl likes an old man. Further, [in past productions] yankii girls would only have sex with yankii boys, so your average person wouldn’t be able to relate. I figured it was up to me to make a production that they could identify with.”

In creating the “Too Cute” series, Otsuka set out to make realistic titles. He personally interviews potential actresses with probing questions, including whether they have smoked cigarettes or ridden a motorcycle. He also asks about any past history of getting revenge on a boyfriend in some harmful way or screwing over a younger associate.

Kiki Imai stars in the first DVD in the “This Yankii Gal Is Too Cute” series
Kiki Imai stars in the first DVD in the “This Yankii Gal Is Too Cute” series for label Big Morkal

The results have been favorable, with the demand for AV productions featuring yankii girls being very real. In 2016, such starlets appeared in nearly 80 titles.

“If there are a lot of haters, then there should be a lot of supporters”

The starlets appear to be as advertised on the surface. With dark skin and dyed hair reminiscent of the gyaru look from decades past, Kuga Iijima sports a number of irezumi tattoos up and down her body, such as a dragon on her right leg. Kiki Imai, the first star in the “Too Cute” series, is seen flipping her right middle finger in a photo on the back of the DVD box.

However, such gruff outward appearances can be deceiving. “Yankii girls want the lights off the first time they have sex, because they’re shy,” says Otsuka, who doesn’t allow any compromises to be made on set. “They don’t like giving blow-jobs, but they’ll allow it for that special someone they like. There should be that sort of unexpected element.”

Otsuka said there were a myriad of twists and turns in the road to realizing his vision. “The first title featured the actress [Imai] with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth, but there was huge opposition both within our company and from retailers,” Otsuka says of Imai. “But I pushed through with it and convinced my bosses because my instincts told me one thing: If there are a lot of haters, then there should be a lot of supporters out there, too.”

Sukeban as precedent

Publishers are also joining the craze by stocking convenience stores with erotic yankii­­-themed books. According to writer Takehiko Sawaki, the popularity of these women is largely due to their youthfulness and rebel spirit.

“The core demographic of AV fans are men in their 40s and 50s,” Sawaki says. “They love how there are these young delinquent girls going crazy over an old man’s genitals as they squeal like kittens.”

These fans, who were in their 20s back in the nascent days of the AV industry, have a particular soft spot for yankii girls after growing up seeing them in the media, according to Sawaki.

The early ’70s, media coverage of gangs of bad girls gave rise to the term sukeban, which refers to a female delinquent. Capitalizing on the attention was studio Toei, which released a series dedicated to bad girls, including “Girl Boss Guerrilla” by director Norifumi Suzuki in 1972.

Kuga Iijima
The gyaru with the dragon tattoo: Kuga Iijima appears in “Irezumi Sex”

“For old men, yankii girls are a familiar presence, just like they were back then,” Sawaki says. “They’re basically like impossible fantasies. It’s in a man’s nature to go weak in the knees when a girl with a not-so-nice look — the type you for sure won’t see around town — shows even a little bit of kindness.”

When it comes to AV production companies, they appear to see the trend as an easy way to complete productions.

“Most actresses can play the part of a crass, bad-mannered gal with no problem at all. It’s a lot easier to play the role of a down-to-earth girl than, say, that of a sheltered princess who was raised by a good family or a black-haired idol star,” laughs Sawaki. “Plus, you don’t need to brush up yankii girls all that much, meaning the package cover doesn’t need much work. It’s easier. A small- or medium-sized producer can cheaply release them.”

Certainly, the genre is not for major labels.

“A big-time porn label could feature one of their tops stars and try to do the same thing, but it just wouldn’t have that realistic feel,” Sawaki says. “Besides, a big production company wouldn’t release a title with a cover featuring an actress holding an aluminum bat in the first place.”

Source: “Yankii AV ga hitto chu!” Spa! (May 2-9, pages 28-29)

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