Three extravagant companions set off on an outrageous journey in Yasujiro Tanaka’s first film, which highlights the discrimination and challenges experienced by LGBTQ individuals in a country that frequently struggles with deeply ingrained traditional beliefs. Through this venture, Tanaka introduces a fantastic representation of LGBT culture, beginning with a group of drag queens who receive devastating news.
Camera Japan is showing Natchan’s Little Secret.
Nat-chan has a secret. From the surface, he looks like any ordinary Japanese guy working the usual nine-to-five. But his ruse comes to a grinding halt when he unexpectedly passes away, taking his secret to the grave with him. One withheld by his closest sisters: the matronly and glamorous Virgin Purity (Kenichi Takito), the gorgeous baby of the group Morilyn Stone (Shu Watanabe) and the chaotic firecracker with a sick sense of humour, Lusty Zubuko (Tomoya Maeno).
However, their knowledge of their mysterious friend is limited to his preference in men and his controversial sexual desires. Despite this, the LGBTQ+ trio is still shocked and saddened, prompting them to travel far to attend their mentor’s last event. Here, they must decide whether to disclose the truth about their dear friend Nat-chan to his loved ones and acquaintances.
The beginning of ‘ ‘ is simplistic, but not very effective. The slow and boring start leads to several confusing and uncomfortable moments. For example, when the girls attend a gay party and dance to outdated music from the 1980s, or when they have a difficult encounter with their deceased friend’s mother, who tries to act tough. The lack of inspiration is evident in Tanaka’s initial production, which relies on overused cliches to keep the story going.
In an attempt to add excitement, Tanaka introduces unexpected plot twists and absurd characters, disregarding logic and structure in order to enhance an otherwise ordinary story. The result is a whimsical and genre-defying production that resembles a “giant Katamari” in film form. However, the chemistry between the three main actors is a positive aspect and they all give impressive performances. Kenichi brings depth and complexity to the role of Virgin Purity, Shu complements with a subtle and sassy portrayal of Morilyn, and Tomoya adds genuine humor through physical comedy and comic relief.
Unfortunately, despite the talented actors, the direction and script did not meet the same high standard. ‘Natchan’s Little Secret’ is outdated and excessive, and ultimately falls short of its original intention, feeling more like a relic of the past than a valuable treasure.