The first season of The Naked Director was undoubtedly one of the surprises of 2019 by Netflix. Thanks to an excellent cast, a perfect screenplay in the balance between seriousness and comedy (with some hint of trash) and the treatment of a difficult and delicate subject, that ofpornography industry, the series available exclusively on the platform has met the full favor of audiences and critics. In fact, it is rare to find products capable of offering an unprecedented insight into Japanese history and society in such a direct and genuine way. If you want to deepen the numerous merits and the few defects of this little pearl, I can only refer you to my review of the first season of The Naked Director.
It has finally arrived on our screens there second (and final) season of the series created by the director Masaharu Take, available on Netflix starting last June 24th. The eight episodes of this second part – the same number as the predecessor – had the task of closing the parable of Toru Muranishi, the man who revolutionized the world of Japanese porn in the 80s and 90s. How did he do it? Find out in my review.
NOTICE: inevitably, there will be some spoilers on the events of the first season. Do not continue reading if you have not yet recovered it and do not want to ruin anything.
- Original title: 全裸 監督 Zenra Kantoku
- International title: The Naked Director
- English title: The naked director
- Italian release: June 24, 2021
- Platform: Netflix
- Type: dramatic, semi-biographical
- Number of episodes: 8
- Duration: 45-55 min.
- Tongue: Italian (dubbing and subtitles), Japanese (dubbing)
We reviewed The Naked Director – Season 2 via the Netflix streaming platform.
The end of the dream
At the end of the first season we were left with Muranishi and his cheerful company now on the crest of the wave of the Japanese porn market, following the daring parenthesis of the arrest after filming in Hawaii, but not without some sacrifices such as the forced abandonment of Toshi Arai (Shinnosuke Mitsushima), the one who first introduced our beloved director to this world. At the same time, we have witnessed the rise of Furuya (veteran Jun Kunimura) as the boss of the yakuza, but above all to the end of a very important era in Japanese history, the Showa one, replaced by the Heisei era at the very end of the 1980s. Therefore, no obstacle seems to appear in the face of the advance of Muranishi and his production company but, as the legend of Icarus teaches, the higher you fly the more the risk increases, and it is precisely when you reach the summit that the inevitable descent begins.
The second season of The Naked Director sees Muranishi and his collaborators, in what will soon be known as Diamond Visual, struggling with the management of a large company and with all the obligations and needs that follow. Factors that compromise the perfect creative balance that was created, taking the star as an example Kaoru Kuroki (Misato Morita) having to deal with public relations, overshadowing her participation in the studio’s productions. To make matters worse, the advent of satellite television, for which Muranishi comes to develop a real obsession (“making porn rain out of the sky” is one of the recurring reasons for the season), and the bursting of the speculative bubble in 1991 represent two historical events that will heavily influence the fate of the company.
From these lines you could assume that the tone is much more serious this time, and you are absolutely right. In these eight new episodes of The Naked Director the dramatic component prevails over all the rest, and the more comical and demented parentheses that had made the first season a great playground are relegated to a very few moments. Masaharu Take’s work meets the definitive maturation recounting in a commendable way the rise and fall of the Japanese Porn Emperor with Scorsesian ambitions, maintaining all the merits of the first half – such as the staging of the erotic sequences absolutely not vulgar or tacky – and seasoning everything with a superfine writing that in certain points touches apex worthy of the best breaking Bad (And if you please). Some of you may regret the lighter, more light-hearted tone of past episodes, but there’s no question that the more serious atmosphere is perfectly suited to the events narrated.
A story that hits hard
The real protagonists of The Naked Director are once again two, Japanese society and the cast. The first is perfectly outlined, with a great deal of reconstruction (visual and not only) of the historical period, fundamental in a work of this kind, which allows to contextualize and above all justify the most important developments of the plot. Unfortunately, a bit like the first season, The Naked Director at times it seems to forget the international audience of the streaming platform it is on, taking for granted the prior knowledge of some fundamental passages of recent Japanese history that the average viewer may not be well aware of. This is the case, for example, of the aforementioned economic crisis following the bursting of the financial bubble in the early 90s, which is coming barely hinted at in the narrative despite it being a real turning point for the career of Muranishi and associates. A few more explanations would not have hurt.
On the cast, in all honesty, there is little to say. Being a very unanimous story, the characters are once again confirmed as the real strength of the production and each of them is characterized in a credible, natural and multifaceted way. The credit is undoubtedly the excellent acting ensemble. Takayuki Yamada he is once again masterful in his interpretation of the protagonist, a real MVP with incredible charisma and charm even when he is stained with questionable choices, and alone holds up a good part of the show. The real revelation of this season however is Shinnosuke Mitsushima: his Toshi Arai, here in a very different guise than before, is convincing and will not fail to excite you. Among the new entries, one of the most interesting is undoubtedly Koichi Umino (Tsuyoshi Ihara), a telecommunications magnate who will give Toru Muranishi a lot of trouble.
Here, too, it’s not all roses and flowers though. Some storylines seemed less convincing to me, for example that of Sayaka, a female character introduced for the first time this season who will play a fundamental role in Toshi’s destiny, but that the script sets aside towards the middle of the series denying her a greater insight that could have made her more fascinating. I was also very disappointed with how it was handled Takei (played by Lily Franky), the corrupt police inspector star performer in the first season. Instead of evolving its characterization, the second season is limited to re-proposing its features in a rather speckish and superfluous way. In any case, these are small spots that do not in any way spoil the large fresco painted by the work, which puts an end to the fictional events of Toru Muranishi in those years of great change for Japanese culture and society.
Who do we recommend Il Regista Nudo?
The Naked Director is, at present, one of the best live action television series available on Netflix. If you love good stories, great acting rehearsals, charismatic characters and want to discover a little-known side of recent Japanese history, then the title in question is highly recommended. However, being, in this specific case, the second season, if you have not yet recovered it, obviously look at the first one. If, on the other hand, you are not interested in the subject matter or you do not consider it suitable for an entertainment work due to its sensitivity, then The Naked Director may not be for you. It would be a real shame though.
- The worthy conclusion of Toru Muranishi’s parable
- Masterful acting
- Much more dramatic than the first season
- A few less convincing storylines than the rest
- Some aspects of the society of the period could be better explained
The Naked Director – Season 2
A simply unmissable series
And who would have imagined that The Naked Director, after the already convincing first season, could mature so much in the awaited continuation! The second and final act of the Netflix series directed by Masaharu Take is indeed a period drama with all the trimmings, which starting from the excellent foundations of the previous episodes evolves to a higher level, telling in an impeccable way the descending parable of Toru Muranishi, masterfully interpreted by Takayuki Yamada and supported by a cast that is absolutely no less. Much more serious and dramatic than the first half, with some hard boiled moments that would not look out of place in a Takeshi Kitano yakuza film, and with a few absolutely negligible shortcomings, the second season of The Naked Director rightly places the entire series among the best proposals of the Netflix catalog of recent years. Subarashii!