With the Chitai series, Teruo Ishii takes a long look at the Japanese shallows, where gangs, prostitution, thieves, drugs … in clear the renegades of society concentrated in an area, according to the episodes it will be Gangsters, a mafia network all powerful to finish modestly with a touch of irony on a small club managing a bargain prostitution. At the level of the actors, it will be practically always the same with headed Yoko Mihara, charismatic actress, Shigeru Amachi, a mysterious man then Teruo Yoshida, young dreamer.
For this first opus, we follow a trapped killer, here Shigeru Amachi, who on the road to his vengeance will meet a cute young woman, Yoko Mihara, a dancer to travel to Kobe for a new job she is unaware of Makes the finality. The trio is completed with a journalist, Teruo Yoshida, officially investigated on the network “Yellow Line”, but also in search of his girlfriend, kidnapped by a fugitive killer …
Loss of control
From the credits, the tone seems black, the sound background is a melancholic stroll played on the guitar of Hispanic influence, then a man explains the details of a work to a killer, the camera opens on a close-up of the Man to widen and show the two men, one face, the other back, the killer, to finally focus on a pair of keys of a hotel named “Domino” in close-up. With an opening like this, Teruo Ishii clearly states the scheme of his film, it shows us the essential in a few minutes. From a situation apparently under control people will get lost in a labyrinth, get trapped, encounter difficulties in arriving at the final, deliverance for some, at the exit gate for others.
Teruo Ishii has the advantage of having a complete script in which he entangles the characters, each one meets, crosses without knowing each other. He plays with the worst enemies, without the latter knowing, taking advantage of the chance. It is also because he offers us a rich gallery of characters, ranging from the saleswoman of cigarettes to the prostitute or even the manager of a shabby hotel without forgetting a shoe seller a little trolling.
On the margins of society
The climax of history lies in the Kobe Kasbah, the perfect microcosm of a world outside known borders, in which both men and cultures collide. Teruo Ishii takes care to create the parallel between this shell and the urban world presented at the beginning of the film as emotionally cold and distant, with these wide streets and telephone booths allowing a certain way to connect men with each other.
It emerges from the Casbah a strange, indeterminable atmosphere with its narrow alleyways plunged in artificial light or most often in the dark. At times, the place gives the impression of being a kind of nightmare-like dream, nobody complains or at least nobody dares to do it openly, knowing the undesirable activities of everyone. One of the few to express himself is a completely drunk fallen poet, who in the rain in the middle of the street sells his book while urinating where he can and telling his stories.
In this microcosm, protected from the gaze of justice, the power of the Yellow Line emerges. Given the context of this area, it is difficult to grasp its limits because everything seems to be corrupted and rotted by prostitution. What does this network offer? Attractive young women to foreigners. Here, the Casbah is a twilight zone monopolized by decay, neither Japanese nor foreigners emerge indifferently.
It is surprising to see that with this first opus, Teruo Ishii arrives perfectly to describe its subject, it makes no concession to this place malfamé whose besides the rules of life, strict, do not make survivors. We can think of this young South American, at least we guessed the amount of makeup she has on her face, fell into prostitution after falling in love with an ambitious young Japanese.
We also think of our killer, he who tells us his past as an orphan brought up in poverty with as the only way out crime. In fact, individuals are left in control of their decisions, there is no standpoint in contrast to the following episodes that will attach much more to a couple of main characters. Here, once arrived in Kobe, the narration is more freely, going from the side of our killer to the forsaken to the benefit of the journalist and stopping en route to the dancer. Teruo Ishii divides his narrative without embedding it in a rough tourbillon, it keeps a logic thanks to the many encounters of characters that we have often already crossed.
A dark episode in color, with a melancholic atmosphere, Yellow Line surprises by its sobriety and its black look on the Men, there are indeed very few artifices or special effects for some ultimately anecdotal murders. What Teruo Ishii is doing is letting men face themselves, immersed in a strange and unhealthy microcosm, serving as a pretext for their worst garbage, forgetting that they are the invaders.