TADFF 2010
RoboGeisha Review

When a new film is being made by the same group who gave us the camp hits Tokyo Gore Police and Machine Girl, the purchase of your ticket is like an informal contract that you are basically down with whatever is about to happen for the next feature-length amount of time. No matter what. However, even when the film is consciously cult, it should still have certain responsibilities, foremost keeping you entertained. Does this little taste of culture trash succeed or is this geisha’s make up running down her face?

RoboGeisha is about two sisters, Yoshie and Kikue, who at heart love each other but on the surface are at each others’ throats. When a rich steel industrialist is introduced to them, he sees some potential for a secret experiment, while the two sisters simply see a possible suitor. This experiment, as it turns out, is kidnapping pretty but able girls, brainwashing them to be geisha assassins and sending them to kill every powerful player in between them and world domination. They also have a super nuke to throw into Mt. Fuji if that doesn’t pan out. Yoshie quickly becomes top of the heap among her peer killers, and on top of superior weapon skills she amplifies her abilities with a total cybernetic makeover. When Yoshie is ordered to assassinate the elderly leader of an underground alliance, she discovers the true intentions of her masters, and is betrayed, which is like, the last thing any employer should do to their angry mechanical assassin. Cue revenge.

So yeah, it’s silly. Subtlety is at a record low, and actions are often repeated in dialogue immediately after occurring. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, though I didn’t really expect it to. The special effects are best described as a hybrid between PlayDough bombs and Tim and Eric Awesome Show. There’s a part where Yoshi finds out she can turn into a tank if she plays music while a near Robocop theme cover plays, and by that point your defenses are too worn to care. And despite all this, despite it’s desperate plea for crazy cult status and being completely out of it’s gourd, this film is really boring.

Starting from just the drenched shock value stuff, which is what films like this and Tokyo Gore Police use as a respirator, is surprisingly sparse. The blood, violence and gore is more playful than serious, and if you were hoping for a companion piece to Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl, you are not going to find it here. Even in a film that is in such a space that it can get away with anything, RoboGeisha lingers a lot, and the first act, including a prologue that doesn’t really fit anyway you look at it, seems to last forever. The climactic violence fest it all segues into isn’t as satisfying or explosive as other Japanshock gems.

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The problem is RoboGeisha is beginning to become yet one of the many in its kind, and in its kind, it is definitely one of the weakest. There are gags that can make you chuckle, and offputting dialogue which will make you smirk, but it’s not charming, it’s not endearing, it just drags. This film doesn’t manage to erase the exposure of Riki-Oh, and it doesn’t let itself push the material anywhere near levels necessary to be edgy against the competition.

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