Sketch comedy – Japanese style!
What They Say
Get ready for pleasure.
You've never seen or experienced anything like this rainbow-acid-hued, mind-tripped, sonic and sensual assault.
Tokyo pop (and Tokyo pop art) has made Vermilion Pleasure Night an international sensation. From the Tate Modern to MOMA, from college campuses to home computers, this sexy kaleidoscope has capture everyone's attention.
And now you can get off on it.
Like most live action shows and features that are brought over, Vermilion Pleasure Night features a standard stereo mix that's encoded at 224kbps. Somewhat surprisingly, though not so much for when it was actually first recorded, this short series also garnered an English language adaptation. This track is encoded the same as the Japanese track and it comes across decently, but I'm not a fan of dubbing of live action features as they simply feel off in general. The Japanese language track is pretty spot on and about what I expected for a late night variety show and it's a problem free track across all of the episodes and the feature.
Originally airing in the second half of 2000, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The release is made up of five episodes and a feature which is spread across three discs. The show is one that looks decent for what it is where it's your basic late night sketch comedy show with not a lot of flash to it. The animation segments look decent and are generally problem free and the same can be said of the live action segments. There's no seriously visible issues here such as cross coloration and only a bit of noise in a few scenes. Each one is filmed differently, some of them on sets and others outdoors, and they show different strengths and weaknesses. Vermilion Pleasure Night isn't a standout looking show but if you've seen any number of live action Japanese series, you know that this is pretty much the norm.
Vermilion Pleasure Night certainly looks sexy with its front cover as it features a pair of the actresses in their skintight costumes. The background is given over to a mostly white piece with a few red stripes that gives it some flair and provides contrast to the actresses themselves. The logo is just awkward, but it's what it is and it looks decently enough here if you know what it is. It's not a logo that's going to be easily read, but it's one that could draw you in to look more closely at it. The back cover does a good job of selling the show in a different way as it keeps to a simple clean red background with white text on top of it. The summary covers things well enough, but it's the small taglines that push it better along the top and along the right. Several shots from the show are included as well which pushes the sexual side of it and that doesn't hurt either. The remainder is given over to the usual production and technical information which is all clear and easy to read. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
These are probably the most garish and hard to read menus I've ever seen. They do admittedly fit in with the show, but with the color scheme, the movement of the cursor over an entire line and the way it's near impossible to read or see what's selected at times makes this almost unusable at times. Submenus do load quickly and the discs did read our players' language presets without an issue, but navigation is simply a pain to do. Just remembering what these look like makes me want to cringe and forget about it. I've seen thousands of DVD menus but these rank among the worst of the worst that I've ever seen.
The extras are a bit awkward for this release as they’re all on the third volume. In fact, the extras are listed as one item, “Bonus Skits” which runs about thirty minutes. This is a compilation extras thing where the first half or so is made up of a musical performance and then it goes off into the extra skits. Some of it is cute, such as the commercial for the Color of Life compilation movie with the Fuccons plugging it, but by and large these extras are unmemorable and easily skipped, especially where the last several segments are the pointless Six Singing Girls bits.
Vermilion Pleasure Night was a twenty-five episodes series that aired back in 2000 which was eventually released on DVD as a series of five compilation episodes. The original episodes ran for 25 minutes each and these compilations are made up of five nearly one hour long episodes as well as a movie compilation as well. That means that these episodes should be the best of the best and highlights what made the show as fun as it was for the audience that saw it during it's run. Sketch comedy is tough to be certain and when you add in cultural aspects as well, sometimes it'll translate well and other times it won't.
When Vermilion Pleasure Night was first released here, it certainly got mixed responses from what I remember of it. Some people were very drawn to it overall, others liked certain parts but not others. And of course there were those that didn't care for any of it. After watching these five episodes and the movie, it reminded me of the really bad stretch of a series like Saturday Night Live. Now, it's important to remember that everyone has what they consider different bad stretches of a show like that. So tastes are different. What I've found over the years is that my tastes in sketch comedy have changed greatly. I grew up with SNL in the late 70's and early 80's and then got into shows like Kids in the Hall later on through premium cable sketch comedy shows. And after that, as I grew into stand up comedians I found less and less appealing about the churning nature of sketch comedy. So it was little surprise that Vermilion Pleasure Night just didn't come across as all that appealing.
The compilations keep to mostly a familiar set of recurring sketches and a few single pieces here and there, some of which go a bit longer than others. Ones that worked for me were the ones like the One Point English Lessons where a classical Japanese woman is teaching viewers really risque terms for the audience to learn and providing them with ways to use it in conversation, such as saying that “I give really good head.” These are short but they're probably the best ones of the show in their own way. One of the quirkier ones that worked for me was the Midnight Cooking Show segments in which the cute chef runs through different things and invariably has trouble. The one that had me laughing the most was when she was talking about how to prepare people to eat and uses a kogal as an example. That the kogal is going around swiping stuff from the set only made it more amusing.
Unfortunately, the bad material far outweighed the good. Resident Starship drove me nuts in watching an alien who gets things delivered to him and gets caught up in some pointless situations that go on far too long. The segment also features a group of scantily clad women who dance a lot that live downstairs to add some pointless skin moments. Cathy's House wasn't as bad but it also had that sort of pointless feel as it works the fashion side into the show with a group of women doing a Barbie impersonation. Another segment has a couple of women on a bike set against a green screen where they showcase numerous people falling through the window and... that's it. Toss in a few music video segments with Polyester and several other unmemorable skits and the bulk of the show really feels weak at best.
What Vermilion Pleasure Night became the most famous for was the sketch with the Fuccons, which was spun off to its own series. Fuccons is pretty amusing and I've kept it separate because I was familiar with it previously from the spinoff. Fuccons showcases an American family living in Japan and going through a couple of things of culture shock. But that's pretty small really as the stories tend to be about a family of idiots doing things that make no sense. And they're all mannequins. Therein is the real fun of the shorts as the mannequins always are the same ones, sometimes with wigs swapped out, but always with the same expressions. It's surreal watching them go through situations, such as their son being kidnapped or watching the parents naked in bed under the sheets with one of the hands moving inappropriately. Fuccons is fun and quirky and is the kind of sketch where you're not surprised that it was popular and got spun off.
For the most part, when you consider that this runs for nearly six hours total, Vermilion Pleasure Night pretty much left me disappointed. There are sketches I laughed at, but even those were never consistent. Most of the sketches left me not even cracking a smile, never mind actually laughing out loud. The good sketches are few and far between and the movie compilation reuses so much from the show that it wasn't even worth watching for what new bits there were considering how the episode compilations played out. Vermilion Pleasure Night really held no appeal for me overall and continues to remind me that I've simply lost my taste for random sketch comedy shows. Some of it is probably cultural differences as well, but Vermilion Pleasure Night is definitely an acquired taste.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Karaoke Videos, Unaired Bonus Segments, Live Event
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.