Shortly after hanging up the characters of P.I. Kuroda and his lovely assistant Hamako - who had been the driving force throughout several Groper Train episodes immediately prior - Yojiro Takita continued setting his sights on bringing something a little more unusual to the series with 1984’s Sexy Timetrip Ninjas [Chikan densha: gokuhi honban].
Resigning himself to the fact that Toyotomi Hideyori would soon fall at the hands of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, lord Yukimura Sanada hands his most loyal ninja Sarutobi Sasuke (Yukijiro Hotaru) the task of deciphering an encrypted scroll, which if unlocked, will reveal the location of Toyotomi’s fortune. Warned that the scroll must not fall into Hattori Hanzo’s possession (dunno what he’s worried about, the fellow died twenty years prior), Sasuke rushes off to Edo, but he’s quickly stopped in his tracks by a Kunoichi named Kagero (Yuka Takemura) of the Iga clan, charged with stealing the scroll. As they prepare for a fight to the death an earthquake sends them through a portal, shooting them 300 years into the future…
Rest assured, there’s groping. Far from wondering what the hell he’s doing on a train in the middle of a concrete jungle, Sasuke’s first port of call is to slip his fingers down the nearest pair of panties. Once recovered he pegs it, hotly pursued by Kagero. After an interrupted showdown in a busy Shinjuku station, the rivals become separated: Sasuke somehow manages to befriend the girl he just molested on a train - who in turn offers to help him decipher his scroll - while Kagero finds herself working as a cosplay escort at the local “Love Castle”. The race is on, if only they can pull themselves away from Tokyo’s inviting sights.
Using historic events and famous figures of Japanese folklore as a means to aid a time-travel erotic comedy adventure, Sexy Timetrip Ninjas proves to be an assured piece of work from director Yojiro Takita, continuing on with the same level of entertaining sex, mild satire and lampoon-ish behaviour which had been such large part of his previous tales. A brief set-up taking place in 1615 Osaka ultimately paves the way for a fish-out-of-water scenario; a familiar narrative device in many respects, whereby a series of bumbling events lead on to characters enjoying new experiences, whilst in turn the feature gets to make light fun out of decades worth of social change.
Takita paces his film well and fills it with gags aplenty, never allowing for any joke to overstep its mark. A mixture of witty observations and physical comedy, Sexy Timetrip Ninjas in fact owes much to its central leads in the re-united Hotaru and Takemura, whose mannerisms are often hilarious; the latter given more opportunities than usual to showcase her comedic talents and come away with some of the feature’s best scenes. Additionally the director - who evidently loves his mysteries - throws in another puzzling element with our protagonists trying to solve the secrets of Sanada’s scroll. The shaking up of genres is once again enjoyable, even though like before the entire plot hinges on a ridiculous amount of coincidence.
Non-anamorphic, non-progressive, none-too-thrilling really, but as to be expected. Contrast and black levels are poor, with plenty of detail lost in some of the darker-lit interior shots, and brightness is slightly boosted. The general colour balance, however, is fine throughout, despite some bleeding. Some aliasing and cross-colouring rears itself, but not to the point of being overly distracting.
The Japanese 2.0 sound mix is also acceptable for a picture that demands little more than moaning and groaning. The score is fun in parts, with the audio doing a decent job in highlighting the briefer action scenes and moments of silly humour.
The History Behind Sexy Timetrip Ninjas is the most notable feature in this relatively light collection of bonus materials. Chapman University Professor of Japanese History, Alex Bay, puts the film into context by explaining a little of the period in which it’s set, before going on to discuss the whole deal with ninjas and how they’ve been used in media. It’s a very good little piece, which covers enough ground needed within a ten minute space.
The rest is filler stuff, with a photo gallery and biographies for Yojiro Takita, Yukijiro Hotaru, Yuka Takemura and Yutaka Ikejima.