Welcome to The Great Happiness Space: Rakkyo Café. The club's owner, Issei (22), has a staff of twenty boys all under his training to become the top escorts of Osaka's underground love ... See full summary »
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Welcome to The Great Happiness Space: Rakkyo Café. The club's owner, Issei (22), has a staff of twenty boys all under his training to become the top escorts of Osaka's underground love scene. During their training, they learn how to dress, how to talk, how to walk, and most importantly, how to fake relationships with the girls who become their source of income. Join us as Osaka's number one host boy takes us on a journey through the complex and heartrenching world of love for sale in the Japanese underground. Written by
This is a disturbing and important film that peels away many layers of meaning about the mutual manipulation that takes place between men and women. It examines love and need, but what it examines most of all is loneliness. It is a devastating critique of the phony love that is dispensed for money, and what it does both to those dispensing the money and those who profit from it.
The scene of almost all the action in this film is the Rakkyo Cafe, the most popular 'host bar' in Osaka, where women seek the favours of 'host boys' such as the exploitative yet empathetically decent Issei, owner of the bar. The women spend outrageous amounts of money to be pampered and pandered to (and systematically lied to) by these highly skilled and well-groomed young men who are similar to male versions of the famous geishas. The difficulty in maintaining this kind of artifice is evidenced by the high turnover: in many of these bars in Osaka (there are about 100), 'host boys' make a lot of money, but they can't tolerate the stress and demands for very long; few last longer than a year.
Despite being swarmed over by women who profess their adoration for them, the men do not get intimately involved with them. If they get too close, if they have sex with them, the men will lose their illusion of perfection, and will no longer be 'marketable'. These young women pursue a 'happiness place' a la Peter Pan's Neverland. They search for a kind of love that exists only in illusion and fantasy.
Essai is an articulate and thoughtful man who understands all too well the control he has over the women. He also understands the emotional price he is paying for engaging in this activity. He 'loves' them, offers them solace, but he has become profoundly disaffected. 'I can't trust any woman any more,' he says.
This superb film (director Jake Clennell offers no narration and lets his camera do all the work) shows that Issei and all of these well-paid gigolos (without the sex), as joyous as they appear on the screen, desperately want to be loved. They end their long nights at dawn, and go home alone. These shining boys and their adoring 'girlfriends' are, in the end, desperately lonely people.
This film, in a larger sense, is a metaphor for modern society as a whole. In the midst of plenty, loneliness and alienation abound.
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