The Sensualist

The Sensualist
Director: Yukio Abe, 1991.
Japan, 55 minutes.
Japaenese with English subtitles.

Based upon a 17th century Japanese novel following the life and scintillating details of one man's life, The Life of an Amorous Man, this animated feature provides an aesthetically pleasing story steeped in sensuality. The narrative follows a lower class slob who must bed a beautiful, well renowned and sophisticated courtesan as part of a bet, lest he be castrated. He seeks out the aforementioned amorous man, a wealthy and respected merchant, who was said to have known more than 2,000 women and 700 men in his lifetime, for assistance in succeeding in his bet. Occasionally comedic and fairly straightforward, with intercut flashbacks revealing the life of the merchant, this film creates a maddening atmosphere of anticipation depicted artfully in the style ukiyo-e prints and cautious, almost coy pacing.