Ginji the Slasher opens in 1953, with a background of archival military footage overlayed with a Japanese flag. The military images are slowly cross-faded with walls covered in blood. Finally, a row of dead bodies leads to the killer — Ginji Sonezaki, in a flash military aviator uniform, slashing his way through a number of guys with an expensive looking sword. There is blood everywhere — with every slash, Ginji manages to paint another wall red. At this point in the film, there’s only one thought that enters your mind: damn that’s a fine looking uniform.
Thankfully, the film soon cuts to modern day Tokyo where Ginji, having been released from prison, proceeds to carry on with his life. This is the best the film gets: seeing Ginji mill around the slums of Tokyo, living amongst the homeless, is quite peaceful. The characters surrounding him are humorous, and the pace of the film is comfortably subdued.
However, as the film progresses and as Ginji’s past is slowly un-earthed, the quality of the film really starts to plummet. Director Takeshi Miyasaka poorly directs his actors, and shot choice is awful. Furthermore, as the narrative moves into Ginji’s mental state, the film becomes tangled and the characters become a little too surreal; Ginji’s nemesis from 50 years ago re-appears — untouched by the human aging process and with the ability to levitate and disappear into thin air. To make things even worse, humour is involved; at one stage in the film, Ginji’s homeless Korean friend makes a joke about his likeness to famed Korean actor Han Suk Kyu. Such silly humour is only detrimental to the film.
Ginji the Slasher had the opportunity to be a semi-decent film: the plot isn’t as bad as some, and Ginji’s character has some promise. Isao Natsuyagi who plays the older Ginji, provides the film with a solid performance, while famed actor Riki Takeuchi offers a cult presence as the younger Ginji. Another fortunate aspect is that the film doesn’t rely on gore to carry itself — despite the proclivity for this genre to do so. Nevertheless, Ginji the Slasher mortally shoots itself in the foot with poor filmmaking practices and corny psychological development.