Did any stu­dio ever work hard­er at pump­ing out sex­ploita­tion fare than Nikkatsu dur­ing their “Roman Porno” era?  They spent most of the ‘70s and the first half of the ‘80s crank­ing out this fare, releas­ing movies at a rate that put any major stu­dio to shame.  However, the focus on crank­ing out a con­stant stream of pro­duct meant that they could all be as slick and care­ful­ly craft­ed as their best efforts.

As a result, you occa­sion­al­ly got films like Female Gym Coach: Jump And Straddle.  The plot­line for this quick­ie is a real “kitchen sink” effort.  The hero­ine is Kei (Junko Asahina), a cor­po­rate work­er who dou­bles as the coach of her company’s gym­nas­tics team.  The team isn’t doing too well so the com­pa­ny decides to spice things up by mak­ing it a “rhyth­mic gym­nas­tics” team and using it as the basis for a new ad cam­paign.  To ensure suc­cess, they ask Kei to step down from coach to gym­nast so they can draft in expe­ri­ence FemGymJAS-dvdmale coach Aoki (Funasaku Sasairi).

And that’s where the trou­ble begins.  Kei was once a promis­ing gym­nast and Aoki was her coach — but after they con­sum­mat­ed their coach/student love, she was nev­er able to suc­cess­ful­ly com­pete again.  Will she and Aoki be able to iron out their dif­fer­ences?  Will randy sec­re­tary Ichigo (Yuka Takamura) suc­ceed in seduc­ing the coach?  Both ques­tions are dealt with and the view­er is treat­ed to plen­ty of low com­e­dy and sex sce­nes as well.

Even by Nikkatsu Roman Porno stan­dards, Female Gym Coach: Jump And Straddle is pret­ty wacked-out.  It has the hasti­ly-made feel of some­thing designed to flesh out a release sched­ule.  The slap­dash plot­ting piles on ele­ments with­out always remem­ber­ing to pay them off: for exam­ple, much to-do is made about a com­pe­ti­tion that is impor­tant to both the com­pa­ny and our hero­ine but the film ends before said com­pe­ti­tion hap­pens!  The tone con­stant­ly shifts from high melo­dra­ma to low com­e­dy in a way guar­an­teed to induce whiplash.  Even the sex sce­nes often seem kind of rushed.

That said, Female Gym Coach: Jump And Straddle is nev­er dull.  At 67 min­utes, it offers an array of hijinks that you would nev­er see in a mod­ern sex­ploita­tion film.  Low-com­e­dy high­lights include a mid­dle-man­age­ment type who is con­stant­ly grop­ing the ladies and and a scene where the ladies look on as a clos­et homo­sex­u­al exec­u­tive tries to pounce on the coach after mis­tak­en­ly believ­ing him to be gay (when we next see said exec­u­tive, he’s wear­ing Rob Halford-style bik­er leathers in his office!).

On the sex­ier side of things, there’s a fun moment involv­ing some nude gym­nas­tics and an intrigu­ing­ly styl­ized flash­back sex scene that involves a crane shot.  Director Koyu Ohara was a pro­lific Nikkatsu direc­tor and he gives the film a suit­able scope-for­mat visu­al gloss.  Better yet, ear­ly ‘80s sex­ploita­tion star­let Asahina goes through the plot’s quirky motions with poise and an appro­pri­ate lack of inhi­bi­tions.  Takamura is also wor­thy of note, in both the act­ing and nudi­ty cat­e­gories, as Asahina’s minx­ish office com­peti­tor.

In short, Female Gym Coach: Jump And Straddle def­i­nite­ly fits more into the “pro­gram­mer” end of Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno out­fit but it’s fast enough — and weird enough — to amuse devo­tees of this style.

DVD Notes: the new Impulse Pictures DVD of this film rep­re­sents its American home video debut.  As usu­al, the anamor­phic trans­fer is crisp, col­or­ful and hand­some­ly remas­tered, boast­ing the orig­i­nal Japanese sound­track with new English subs.  Extras con­sist of an eye-pop­ping trail­er and a quick but infor­ma­tive set of lin­er notes from Jasper Sharp that dis­cuss the careers of Ohara, Asahina and Takamura.