I’ve been wanting to see The Great Happiness Space: Tales of an Osaka Love Thief, directed by Jake Clennel, ever since I read Cynthia’s appreciative, but somewhat ambivalent, Silverdocs review, and now, via Boing Boing, I see that the film is available on Google video (and will soon be available on Netflix). The documentary focuses on Osaka “host bars,” where women pay for the experience of spending time with the male hosts. For the most part, the hosts are not selling sex, but are instead selling “dreams.” The hosts offer their clients romance, attention, compliments, all in the hopes of turning their customers into frequent clients, and many of the women who pay for this service spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars during every visit. Interestingly, as the client-host relationship deepens, the host turns to scolding the customer, which often influences the woman to spend even more money. I don’t have time for a full review, but like Cynthia, I sometimes found it uncomfortable to watch the documentary, in part because of the self-destructive behavior of the clients, many of whom are prostitutes (one host estimates that 70-80% of his clients are prostitutes). But it’s also interesting to see how the work ultimately affects the hosts themselves. Because they are in the business of manufacturing dreams, one host finds himself feeling confused about his “real personality” as he performs his roles for his various clients. The film is well worth watching, although I’d recommend Netflixing (or renting/buying) it instead of trying to watch it on Google video’s postcard-sized screen.
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