Set in 1928, Noble Lady Bound Vase tells the story of Naniji (Naomi Tani) who was sold by her father to a wealthy land owner in order to pay off his depts. But we very soon discover that Naniji’s husband is a depraved and perverted man, who’s into bondage, torture and humiliation (for the viewer's excitement). She assumed her wife’s role but without any enjoyment while her husband only take advantage of her as he likes. Six months passes and the husband’s nymphomaniac sister comes for a visit and she begin to spy on the couple’s relationship when she catches Nanji passing a message to a lover via one young male housekeeper. The sister than tattle the whole story to her brother, and both wife and the young man are captured. This will lead to a series of sexual humiliation. Later, since Nanji doesn’t want to show any remorse for act her husband invite the presumed lover to witness the shameful punishments he’s been inflicting to his wife.Although not that innovative in both the execution or in the torture department, Noble Lady Bound Vase manages and succeeds in mixing-up the audience feelings throughout the film. For instance, we do want the bad husband to be punished or the passionate lover to finally get Naniji for wife but none of this happen (or barely) instead, Konuma decides to confront the spectator and force him to eventually like his so detestable villains and have pity and admiration for them.
Another aspect of the film I can’t neglect is the symbolic use of monkeys. Naniji’s husband hysterically yells at her lover (who can’t let go of her and still wants to marry her): “That’s good! Then you’ll have a monkey wedding!” From there, chaos once again surface as Naniji’s husband interrupt the wedding to drag his wife outside in the rain and have sex with her tied to a post, all this with the poor lover left watching. The monkeys are always shown alone and observing human behaviors, we can see them watching the husband having sex with his wife and later looking at the young servant masturbating. But those monkeys ultimately end up together in a cage in one of the house’s room (the same room and cage where Naniji and the servant were kept and tortured). The other interesting aspect is that we can clearly see that they are tied to each other by a red ribbon, the same ribbon that we see hanging from that same room window. Here the monkeys could be interpreted as a direct reflection of the couple relationship, their fate is finally linked as they are no longer learning but instead accomplice to each other.
In itself, despite some rather strong scenes of bondage, Noble Lady Bound Vase has a somehow interesting way of depicting the quiet and peaceful countryside. Konuma first show the natural calmness of it, but later make us discover the rudeness and weirdness of its people (a mentally challenged young pregnant woman, the perverted neighbors, a sadistic servant, etc). It is also quite interesting to see how the director manipulates the image of the typical countrymen and makes us believe that they are over-traditional people who still live by the codes and laws of Edo period. Again, all this for the viewer’s pleasure.
Kifujin Shibari Tsubo