The seventh and final entry in the “Office Lady Journal” series pairs the talent of director Masaru Konuma with the emerging talent of actress Asami Ogawa.
At 24 years of age, Asami is an office assistant who spends most of her time taking care of her aging father, who is struggling with alcoholism. Her one escape from this mundane life lies in her boss, with whom she is having an affair. Asami does little to stick out at the office, instead keeping her interactions with co-workers to kind formalities. It is also apparent in the relationship with her boss that he is more reliant on her affection than she is, making Asami stand out as an independent woman, early in the film. Consequently, this independent outlook on life allows Asami to wander around in her own world, having interactions outside of the constraints of the relationship. We see her throw a birthday party for a co-worker who is saddened by the fact she is turning 30, interact with a street vendor who sells baby chicks for a living, and finding herself in an awkward marriage meeting set up by her father.
Although this is the seventh film in the “Office Lady” series, I have not been able to see any previous entries, due to their regional unavailability. If any of the previous films rely on watching them in order, this one acts as a standalone.
Sharing the same first name as the title character, Asami Ogawa makes an impressive debut in “Erotic Diary of an Office Lady.” She exudes confidence throughout the film. Even during moments where she seems uncertain of what she wants from life, she still confronts any issues head on. Roman Porno films at their strongest are able to create strong, sexually liberated women and it is impressive to see Ogawa pull off this kind of admirable character in her debut.
The men in the film have problems holding much interest. Asami’s boss is a stereotypical salaryman and isn’t really given anything interesting to his story that makes him memorable. Asami’s father is probably the most interesting male role. He gives us more insight into Asami and her morals, as we watch her play the part of caretaker and dutiful daughter.
I have struggled in the past with the works of Masura Konuma, finding films such as “White Whore” (1974) and “Blue Rain Osaka” (1983) to be on the more tedious end of Nikkatsu Roman Porno productions, so I was pleasantly surprised with “Erotic Diary of an Office Lady,” as it showcases his strengths. One such strength is the ability to competently shoot an erotic scene that doesn’t have to rely on the shock value of a script that calls for more perverse sexual acts. Konuma even manages to create a very memorable sex scene which is hard to do when you look at the plethora spread throughout Japanese Pink film. HE is also able to make Tokyo really come alive. The light jazz score coupled with shots of a bustling Tokyo capture the time period well. This environment gives Asami even more strength of character, as she is able to stand out among the busy city streets and crowded work space.
This film is a good start for those who might be interested in checking out the work of Masura Konuma, but it is not without its faults. The viewer should be aware that the movie may not cater to what they are looking for in a Roman Porno film. It is rather light on content and somewhat aimless. It feels as if the middle could have been placed out of sequence and it still would have arrived at the same outcome without any confusion. More so, with a run time of just over an hour, there is not much content in-between the sex scenes.
A lot of the narrative hinges on the charm of Asami Ogawa, who I believe pulls off a great performance that shows why she went on to become a popular actress with Nikkatsu. But her part in this film may not be what the viewer is looking for, if they prefer their female protagonists in a more submissive role.
For those who have seen other works of Konuma in the past and have been less than impressed, I think people may be overlooking the broad range of films he has worked on. I think he can shine, given the right cast and crew behind him. The film “Cloistered Nun: Runa’s Confession” (1976) is what first got me into his work. I think if you look at that film and partner it with “Erotic Diary of an Office Lady” you get a real scope of his skills, which unfortunately is often misguided in other productions.