Free Essay: Diary of a Shinjuku Thief

Published: 2023-04-13
Free Essay: Diary of a Shinjuku Thief
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Movie Relationship Asia Human sexuality
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 625 words
6 min read

Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (1969) is a Japanese film that is centered on Birdie who is a young man who steals books. He is caught by Umeko who is a clerk at a book store and their relationship grows from this encounter. Their relationship is filled with desires as well as tension but the two becomes become lovers and start committing crimes together. This 1969 film was directed by Nagisa Oshima and portrays violence, sex as well as politics which are related at some point in the film (Oshima).

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In the 1960s there was war, protests, and unrest in the majority of the areas around the world. The protests against the Vietnam War resulted in violence that lasted for an entire decade. In the early 1970s, people were optimistic that this would change but this was not entirely possible since the minds of the people had already changed. The film depicts the stealing behavior of a young man namely Birdey who repeatedly steals to attract the attention of the sales girl (Linnarz). Even after being brought to the president of the company she does not change the behavior. He tells the Umeko that he steals because he is attracted to the act and not because he needs the books. She understands him and gets attracted to him. The sexual desire later overshadows the desire to steal and slowly they start expressing this desire.

The shoplifter violates the social norms of the Japanese people who are perceived as honorable. Tanabe is a bookstore owner who after being a victim of the theft becomes the father figure of the young couple (Turim). The activities of the couple move from bad to good as they stop stealing concentration on their sexual desires but these later changes to chase rape. The theme of sex is depicted when the couple visits a sex therapist after being urged to do so by the bookstore owner. The psychotherapist indicates that the couple suffers from gender ambiguity and androgyny. He offers the pornographic arts to observe and their feedback on the images depicts their personality. Umeko is self-loving and Birdey like an image showing two naked women and one man. His attraction to the image is interpreted to mean that he likes group sex and for Umeko, her personality depicts a lesbianism behavior. In the film, there are personal and group discussions about sexual experiences. He orders them to strip off and they are reluctant not because they are afraid of taking off their clothes but because they are told by somebody to do so.

Birdey is taken on several adventures in Shinjuku district and virtually he becomes Umeko's slave (Oshima). Violence is depicted in the film when Umeko is raped and Birdy is not in a position to help. Rape is a crime and when it happens when a person who you are in a relationship with is watching it affects you psychologically. It also affects the man psychologically and the encounter is likely to affect his future sexual experiences.

Oshima's films are exceptional and they explicitly evaluate important themes such as politics, sexuality, and violence. In "Diary of a Shinjuku Thief" he depicts how a book store thief attracts the attention of a store clerk and their relationship grows from there. He is taken on different adventures and gradually, the desire to steal is replaced by sexual desire. The book store owner becomes Birdey's mentor and he even advises the couple to visit a sexual therapist.

Works Cited

Linnarz, Rouven. "Film Review: Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (1969) By Nagisa Oshima". Asian Movie Pulse, 2018,

Oshima, Nagisa. Diary of A Shinjuku Thief. 1969.

Turim, Maureen Cheryn. The films of Oshima Nagisa: Images of a Japanese iconoclast. Univ of California Press, 1998.

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