There’s more to Japanese genre fare than giant monster movies.  Internationally-savvy schlock fiends have been getting an education in the extremes of this country’s cinema over the last few years thanks to a handful of brave indie DVD labels that have been exploring the wilder corners of Japanese filmmaking.  Synapse is one of those labels, having released titles like the Ohyaku/Okatsu series and the controversial Horrors Of Malformed Men, and they recently committed to continuing this trend by acquiring the rights to 25 of Nikkatsu’s “Roman Porno” films.  Nikkatsu Roman Porno Trailers Collection is the inaugural release in this series and it’s one of the wildest, most fascinating DVD’s to come out this year.

The main program offers a collection of trailers that run about an hour in length.  Each has received an anamorphic transfer and can be played separately or as one continuous program.  Some of the trailers are presented in 1.78:1 ratio while others are presented in a 2.35:1 ratio but they all look sharp and colorful.  The original Japanese sound mixes are used for the trailers and English subtitles are included for each: thankfully these translate most of the frequent superimposed titles in each trailer in addition to the dialogue and narration.  It’s also worth noting that the disc opens with a hilarious and bizarre animated intro that includes an unforgettable montage of lascivious highlights from these films.

There’s only one extra on the disc but it’s a doozy: Ryoko’s Lesbian Flight is a half-hour Roman Porno short from the latter era of Nikkatsu’s output in this genre.  It was shot on video in a full-frame format so it’s not quite as cinematic as the trailers but sleaze fans aren’t likely to complain as it delivers plenty of smut during its slender running time.  It also offers an interesting example of how some Japanese filmmakers would choose to digitally “fog” or pixilate genitalia within a shot rather than frame it out.  The end result isn’t as deliriously inspired as the trailers but it undeniably delivers the softcore goods.

The package is rounded out by an insert booklet that includes a 2-page essay on Nikkatsu Roman Porno films by Jasper Sharp.  If you don’t know the name, Sharp wrote Behind The Pink Curtain, a popular history of Japanese pink films, and is thus uniquely suited to the task.  He covers an impressive amount of territory in a short space, giving the reader a thumbnail history of Nikkatsu’s role in Japanese erotica as well as some interesting details about film censorship in Japan.  It’s the perfect capper for an eye-opening presentation like this disc.

In short, Nikkatsu Roman Porno Trailers Collection offers an impressive intro to Nikkatsu’s singular style of erotica.  Whether you’re a newcomer to Japanese genre fare or a veteran schlock fiend, this is guaranteed to singe your eyeballs with otherworldly cine-madness.