Angel Guts: Nami (1979) – By Duane L. Martin

Angel Guts: Nami (original Japanese title: Tenshi no harawata: Nami) is one of five live action Angel Guts movies based on the manga series by Takashi Iishi, with the screenplays for the films being written by Takashi Iishi himself. This particular film in the series focuses on a female reporter who’s doing a series of follow-up stories on rape victims to see how they’ve recovered and what their life is like now, years after they were raped.

Nami is the reporter who works for a magazine called The Woman, and she herself we find out through the course of the film not only has rape fantasies of her own, but has herself been raped in the editorial room where she works when she was 23 years old. This series of articles about the rape victims is her first big series of articles, and she does whatever it takes to get the women’s stories. One victim had a baby after her attack and is now living by the river with some man who sounds old and sick, though we never see him. One is working in a porno strip show doing a stage bit where she’s raped by a fellow performer (he’s actually gay but works the show anyway), and the last one, and the most horrific, is a nurse who was actually raped by a doctor. She was cut open so he could see her guts while he was raping her. She got away but he ran her down in the autopsy room and raped her there in a tub full of formalin. She went mad from the attack and spent time in a mental hospital, but when Nami interviewed her, she was back working at the hospital where she was raped. During the interview, she goes mad again and rapes Nami in the autopsy room before being stopped by a man named Muraki who Nami had befriended earlier in the film.

Muraki claims to be a reporter who works for a porn magazine doing stories about women who’ve been raped. He says he’s been interviewing rape victims for three years, but he has yet to have one of his stories published. Why? Well he isn’t in fact writing the stories to be published. He uses them to write porn stories based on them. The real reason he’s been interviewing all the rape victims is because he wants to hear their stories of how destroyed their lives have become. That may sound sick, but there’s a reason behind it, and he’s actually a good and decent guy. See, his wife was raped by a burglar while he was out with his boss trying to get a promotion. She allowed the burglar to come back night after night to rape her, and eventually she ran off with him, leaving a note behind saying that Muraki was impotent and couldn’t really satisfy her and that she was running off with the rapist. So Muraki listens to the stories of the destroyed lives of the rape victims because it makes him feel better to think that his wife’s life was destroyed as well. In all other respects, Muraki is a good guy and helps out Nami when she’s in trouble and when she’s getting buried too deep in her story.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad film at all. I’m not really sure where the Japanese fantasies about rape emanate from, but it seems to be a theme that’s repeated over and over again in various Japanese films, both live action and animated. What was different about this film though is that it looked more at how the women’s lives were affected by the rape rather than focusing on the act itself, which was a refreshing change. The various acts of rape are shown, but unlike other films, it doesn’t seem to be done for entertainment or shock value, but rather to show the horror and the brutality of the incidents. At least one other film in this series focuses more on the act rather than the consequences and it ended up being a rather pointless film with two dimensional characters and no one at all to care about. This film however, rose above that. It tells a compelling story and gives you characters that you can actually feel something for and you’ll find yourself wanting things to turn out ok for them.

Angel Guts: Nami, as well as all the other films in this series are not for everyone. I personally had a rather strong aversion to rape scenes in films, although I am becoming rather desensitized to it at this point, and people who don’t like to see that kind of thing or can’t suffer through it to see the deeper meanings in the film probably won’t want to see it. There really are some great subtexts in this film though, and the two main characters both have their own rape related demons, and the actors did a great job in making their characters really come across as having issues they were internalizing and trying to deal with. This is a film that actually has something important to say and shows the brutality of rape and how it affects everyone’s lives in different ways. In that sense, it’s a movie that should be seen, if for no other reason than that it might make rape seem less like a fantasy and more like the vicious and life altering crime that it really is.

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