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Short Film Review: Ririka of the Star (2022) by Tokitoshi Shiota

Still from the film Ririka of the Star
When the best thing you have going for you is a bottle of piss

“Everyone has a dream. For Moe, it is to be a stripper, much to her father's objections as he resents her unknowingly living up to the legacy of her absent mother. Is there something that can change his mind? Perhaps seeing the art of stripping for himself…” (Official Synopsis)

Actor 's directorial debut is difficult to approach without some familiarity with him as a person or, more importantly, his work with director Takashi Miike as an actor in several projects. “Ririka of the Star” even dons the production moniker of “Gozu Productions,” featuring the image of the bullheaded monstrosity that appears in the Miike film of the same name. To those in the know, this will be an indicator to take the following lightly, with the movie showing its influence early on, an important factor but one that does not redeem what comes afterward.

From the beginning one gets the impression of insiderism being the major push for Shiota to take on a director role, which becomes obvious with a cameo from Takashi Miike. A catheter and IV wired up Miike with a piss bottle displayed prominently before eventually stumbling toward the stage in a bout of geriatric horniness is the best bit of humor in the entire short. Moreover, “Ririka of the Star” contains dark humor that would be better suited to a Miike production, like incestuous implications for comedic effect, instead of a short debut film.

Unfortunately, “Ririka of the Star,” is not the actual star here, with much of her time on screen offering little substance. This is frustrating when considering the potential comedy and character development of a young girl wanting to follow in the footsteps of her stripper mother, who abandoned her and her father. In addition, the humor does land at points, and there are moments when the production has the potential to go beyond wanting to impress Takashi Miike.

“Ririka of the Star” approach in creating a ‘silent movie' certainly does an additional disservice to the presentation, with much of the production containing no audio. Considering silent films utilized music as they evolved and the short does not embrace any of the charms of the era of cinema, this choice becomes utterly tedious. Sound is introduced for a striptease, which takes up a large portion of the 20-minute+ runtime, but the music chosen here is particularly grating and does not add to the experience for multiple reasons beyond the muddled, bland electronic dance number.

“Ririka of the Star” will lead one to wonder if Tokitoshi Shiota has any future as a filmmaker. While this is difficult to say for certain, if he places himself outside of the shadow of Takashi Miike and creates a project that does not seem to exist just to try to impress the iconic Japanese director, there may be room to grow. The short is not irredeemable, and there are great moments of comedy and a strong core concept behind the production, it just fails horribly as a whole; at least we got the vision of piss jug Takashi Miike in a horny haze to entertain.

About the author

Adam Symchuk

Adam Symchuk is a Canadian born freelance writer and editor who has been writing for Asian Movie Pulse since 2018. He is currently focused on covering manga, manhwa and light novels having reviewed hundreds of titles in the past two years.

His love of film came from horror and exploitation films from Japan that he devoured in his teens. His love of comics came from falling in love with the works of Shuzo Oshimi, Junji Ito, Hideshi Hino, and Inio Asano but has expanded to a general love of the medium and all its genres.

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