Pink Film Reviews - Sexy Timetrip Ninjas (1984)

Published : May 11th, 2023 Written by Anton Algren

If I could describe Sexy Timetrip Ninjas with a single phrase, it would be “scraping the bottom of the barrel”. Possibly “diminishing returns”, but that would imply that I’d seen the rest of the pink films in this series, which I haven’t (and which I don’t care to do). And despite this movie feeling like the last dying gasp of a series struggling to come up with new ideas, Ninjas only came out in the first two years of the Chikan Densha series’ existence, and the series is still ongoing! Chikan Densha, as you might have guessed from the title, is a series that specializes in… train stuff. But that doesn’t quite describe Ninjas in full, because it’s not really one movie so much as this misshapen Frankenstein’s monster of a movie, comprising three different plots that don’t really mesh and aren’t even that interesting on their own. I complained about Blind Beast feeling like two separate movies crammed into a single film, but that was nothing compared to the sheer schizophrenia of Ninjas.

The first part of Sexy Timetrip Ninjas is the historical ninja drama. You would think that this would be the strongest part of the film, especially since it’s the aspect that separates this installment from the other Chikan Densha movies. And… it kinda is? The filmmakers certainly know their history, to the point where if you aren’t already familiar with the politics of the early Edo Period, you’ll be completely lost. I’m smarter than the average bear when it comes to that subject, and even I was a bit puzzled by some of the historical minutiae Ninjas expected me to know. Like I said though, if you don’t have at least a basic familiarity with Japanese history, you won’t even understand the premise of Sexy Timetrip Ninjas. So, let me give a brief rundown, to catch those unfamiliar up to speed.

Once upon a time Japan was split up into a bunch of different warring fiefs, all trying to unite the country under their own banner and gain the title of shogun from the emperor. Think of it like how the various caesars, sultans, kaisers, and tsars tried to reunite the Mediterranean after the Fall of Rome, and drew the mandate for their authority from the pope (or the caliphate, in the case of the Ottomans). One lord, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, succeeded, but there was a problem. He’d been born a commoner, and was thus ineligible to be a shogun. He was able to get his own title of kampaku, which would have been outranked by a shogun if one were to ever appear. But he made damn sure that no nobleman got any silly ideas along those lines. And then, with the birth of his noble heir Hideyori, all Hideyoshi had to do was wait for the kid to come of age and become shogun, after which the Toyotomi legacy would be assured.

Then Hideyoshi died when Hideyori was only 5 years old. Hideyoshi had appointed a council of elders to look after the little tyke until he grew up, and they had all pinky-sworn that they wouldn’t get any funny ideas and try to usurp Hideyori’s power. But then, whoopsie! One of the elders, Tokugawa Ieyasu, had his fingers crossed behind his back during the pinkie-swearing process (some people, eh?), and in the Battle of Sekigahara, he did just that. He also arranged a marriage between Hideyori and his granddaughter, so that if Hideyori did become shogun someday, he would still be a loyal member of the Tokugawa clan. So, you’d think that would be the end of that.

But you’d be wrong! Thanks to Hideyori’s jealous mater (and I suspect Ieyasu’s jealous grandson), conflict broke out again 15 years later, and poor Hideyori disappeared. During this time, several figures became historical heroes thanks to the valor and bravery they showed in battle. And in Sexy Timetrip Ninjas, the plot is kicked off when one of these figures, Sanada Yukimura (that red guy from Sengoku Basara), sends his most trusted ninja, Sarutobi Sosuke (the guy that dude from Naruto is named after) on a quest to locate a treasure that will turn the tide of war in the Toyotomi clan’s favor. But he’d better steer clear of Hattori Hanzo (Ieyasu’s most trusted ninja), or any of the other ninjas in his employ.

Now, you’re probably wondering “Okay, great. I’ve got up to speed with history, and I understand the ninjas part of Sexy Timetrip Ninjas. But where does the timetrip part come from?” Well, I hope you’ve packed your bags, because you’re about to go on a fucking trip. Whilst en route to the treasure, Sarutobi runs into Kagero, one of Hattori Hanzo’s ninjas, and they get into a fight. And before you ask, no, I don’t know if this Kagero inspired the Kagero from Ninja Scroll, though the similarities are certainly eerie. But anyways, during this fight, an earthquake (which really did happen during this time) sends them through time.

How does it send them through time, you ask? Well… I don’t know. And I suspect the film doesn’t know either. The camera starts shaking, weird colors start to swirl, and the sound starts to get funny. So I could buy the idea that the earthquake unleashed some time-travel thing or whatever, or that they fell through a fault and wound up in the future. What baffles me though is how Sarutobi and Kagero could wind up separated when they were locked in combat before time traveling, how they could have wound up from the Kansai region to the Kanto region during their teleportation, or how, after traveling through time and ending up in a JR Line luggage rack, Sarutobi’s sudden appearance and wild gesticulations upon his arrival could elicit no reaction from the train passengers beyond an occasional bout of corpsing. 

Yeah, that’s the thing. These background extras very rarely, if ever, react to stuff around them. A ninja running around, accosting people for a lost scroll? Ignore it. Two ninjas getting into a fight at a train station? A few people stop to watch. But one ninja thinking an innocent bystander is an enemy ninja and offing him right then and there in a crowded terminal? Doesn’t even get a glance. The only time extras react are when people in the fringes of crowd scenes are corpsing, or pointing at the camera, or stopping to watch a fight scene like mentioned before, all of which only highlight the level of cheapness on which Sexy Timetrip Ninjas was made.

Of course, even if there’s no Watsonian explanation for the complete lack of reaction from bystanders in this movie, the Doylist explanation is that we need background extras to not react, so that we can have people do… train stuff. As I said, Ninjas is an installment in a larger series of train stuff pink films, and this train stuff comprises the second of three parts in this Frankenstein’s monster of a movie. Why does Sarutobi wind up on a train when he awakens in the 80s? So that he can immediately do some train stuff. Why is Kagero now suddenly on a train? So that she can get involved in some train stuff. Wait, who the fuck are these two characters? We’ve never seen them before. Do they show up ever again? No? Then why the- oh. Oh it’s so that we can have another scene of… train stuff. Right. What, was there a quota of train stuff scenes they needed to fulfill or something? I joked in my review of Sexy Battle Girls that it sometimes felt like there was too much porn in this porn, but at least in that movie the sex scenes were all relevant to the plot scenes. With Ninjas though, the sex scenes just feel hastily crowbarred in, if the fact that one of them involves characters we never see before or after wasn’t already an indication.

And as for the third of these three bodies from which our Frankenstein movie monster was constructed? Well, uh, it turns out that this pink film was partly produced by Miura Love Castle, a soapland in Tokyo. So there’s a whole subplot where Kagero goes to Miura Love Castle and is so impressed by its facilities that she completely drops her mission to stop Sarutobi and just faffs about as an employee of the place for a while. And then she becomes an idol later. No it doesn’t make any sense, but just… roll with it.

The presence of Miura Love Castle in Sexy Timetrip Ninjas is like the presence of McDonald’s in Mac and Me. It adds nothing to the plot, its presence feels awkward and strained, and it only highlights the fact that the filmmakers don’t really have a movie here. They have product placement, train stuff, and some historical drama that doesn’t even really go anywhere. The story of Ninjas requires you to know about certain historical events, but it doesn’t actually do anything with those events. It then becomes the worst of both worlds, being too esoteric for casual viewers to understand, while also being too lazy for history buffs to enjoy.

And as for the sexy part of Sexy Timetrip Ninjas, it’s in this weird uncanny valley of quality. I’ve mentioned before the bodies-awkwardly-flopping-around style of sex scenes, and Ninjas almost showcases that style. But the problem is that, unlike with previous examples of that style in pink films, the characters of Ninjas are always loudly grunting and making weird, creepy expressions like Terry Crews in White Chicks. Like, seriously, the best way I can describe the facial expressions on people when they have sex in this movie is like when Terry Crews tells Marlon Wayans to ease on in there now. And they keep making those faces and noises ALL THE TIME. If that sounds bad, that’s because it is, but it’s also nothing compared to what has to be the most baffling, wtf sex scene in the whole movie, when Kagero uses her ninja powers to sex up a soapland customer real good, and the footage speeds up so that it looks like a hardcore Benny Hill. And then, at one point Sarutobi is in a porno theater, beating his meat, when the film stops, and a man shows up on the theater screen and tells Sarutobi to stop masturbating, because he’s making it weird for the couples there. Like, this isn’t a prerecorded message. This is a man who suddenly appears out of nowhere like magic to talk to Sarutobi and tell him not to jerk off in a public porn theater. We never see this man again.

Sexy Timetrip Ninjas is just plain bad. It might have been able to scrape by into so-bad-it’s-good territory, but that would require a passion and love that is entirely absent from this movie. This is not the earnest incompetence of a Room or Samurai Cop, nor the winking irreverence of a Darkplace or Succulent Succubus. It’s not even the awkward attempt at silliness of a Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. It’s a cynical, lazy cash-grab that doesn’t even succeed in its advertising. I don’t want to go to a soapland after watching this, and I don’t want to try train stuff after watching this (though in fairness I never did because what sick fuck genuinely wants to do that shit?). I am kind of interested in learning more history after watching this, but only because the portrayal of historical figures is so caricatured and mean-spirited that I want to see just how badly the filmmakers got things wrong. Whenever I laughed during this movie, it was simply because the film had gotten so obviously hackneyed and shoddy that there was no other choice. Believe me, however funny I may make a scene sound, it isn’t actually that funny when you see it on screen. It’s just plain lousy.

Have a pink film you’d like me to review? Leave a comment down below.

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