Monday, August 06, 2007

The Great Happiness Space

Guys, how would you like to earn $50,000 per month by drinking and talking with women? Girls how would you like to spend $600 to scull a bottle of champaign? Welcome to the host clubs of Osaka. If, like me, you've never heard about host clubs you'll need an explanation. A host club is a place were women hire professional (male) hosts to drink and talk with them (and dance, and sing karaoke if need be). Women entering a host club gets to choose a host from the menu of colour photos. Some of these hosts have a reputation beyond their own clubs, so women apparently seek out their clubs. This is a type of business that is missing from Courtenay Place!

This documentary concentrates on the club Cafe Rakkyo in Osaka run by Issei who is also its top earning host. Issei and his fellow hosts, all in their 20s, spend a fair bit of time and money on their appearance; hair spiky with product and sunglasses are de rigueur. Their clients are similarly aged young women. At the start of the film Issei describes his job as making women fall in love with him; and interviews with many of the clients suggest he is quite successful at that, with many admitting that the reason for their repeat visits is a quest to become Issei's girlfriend. Issei admits to having sex with a lot of clients but there is never a girlfriend. Later Issei talks of (and the film shows him) providing emotional support to his clients ranging from a shoulder to cry on to unflinching advice. The film also shows the darker side with the hosts encouraging binge drinking.

More amusing are shots of the newbie hosts out on the street hustling for business among the apparently disinterested young women walking past. Even if (like me) you don't think you are interested in Japanese host clubs, this movie was certainly not a waste of time and should keep you interested and amused right through to dawn, when the tired hosts head home and the credits roll.

Ian's rating: 3/5

1 comment:

  1. Antony K3:31 pm

    This is one of my favourite documentaries. It just kept getting more and more strange as layers of deception are peeled away revealing the true motivations of the people involved. Very skillfully made and a great window into aspects of Japanese culture.