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TypePrivate (Kabushiki gaisha)
IndustryTelevision production and Film
Founded1912; 110 years ago (1912)
ParentNippon Television Holdings (35%)
SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation (28.4%)
SubsidiariesDjango Films
Kantana Japan

The Nikkatsu Corporation (日活株式会社, Nikkatsu Kabushiki-gaisha) is a Japanese entertainment company known for its film and television productions. It is Japan's oldest major movie studio,[1] founded in 1912 during the silent film era. The name Nikkatsu amalgamates the words Nippon Katsudō Shashin, literally "Japan Motion Pictures".

Shareholders are Nippon Television Holdings (35%) and SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation (28.4%).[2]


Founding in 1912[edit]

Nikkatsu was founded on September 10, 1912, when several production companies and theater chains, Yoshizawa Shōten, Yokota Shōkai, Fukuhōdō and M. Pathe, consolidated under the name Nippon Katsudō Shashin.[3] The company enjoyed its share of success.[clarification needed] It employed such notable film directors as Shozo Makino and his son Masahiro Makino.

During World War II, the government ordered the ten film companies that had formed by 1941 to consolidate into two. Masaichi Nagata, founder of Daiei Film and a former Nikkatsu employee, counter-proposed that three companies be formed and the suggestion was approved. Nikkatsu, set to merge with the two weakest companies, Shinkō Kinema and Daito, were verbally displeased. The committee formed to establish the value of each company retaliated by purposefully undervaluing Nikkatsu, which led to Shinkō becoming the dominant head of production. The reformed Nikkatsu continued to prosper as an exhibition company but ceased all film production.

The postwar film industry expanded rapidly and, in 1951, Nikkatsu president Kyusaku Hori began construction of a new production studio.[4] A graduate of Tokyo Keizai University, Hori had joined the company in 1951 after quitting his initial employment as the manager of Sanno Hotel (now rebuilt as Sanno Park Tower).

Golden Age[edit]

Under Hori, Nikkatsu is considered to have had its "Golden Age".[citation needed] The company began making movies again in 1954.[citation needed] Many assistant directors from other studios, including Shōhei Imamura and Seijun Suzuki from Shochiku, moved to Nikkatsu with the promise of advancement to full director status within one or two years.[citation needed] Suzuki made dozens of films for Nikkatsu from 1956 onwards, developing an increasingly inventive visual style, but was controversially fired following the release of his 40th, Branded to Kill (1967),[5] which Hori deemed "incomprehensible".[citation needed]

The company made a few samurai films and historical dramas but by 1960 had decided to devote its resources to the production of urban youth dramas, comedy, action and gangster films.[citation needed] From the late 1950s to the start of the 1970s, they were renowned for their "borderless action" (mukokuseki akushun) movies,[6] designed for the youth market, whose directors included Suzuki, Toshio Masuda, and Takashi Nomura.[1] The studio also employed such stars as Yujiro Ishihara, Akira Kobayashi, Joe Shishido, Tetsuya Watari, Ruriko Asaoka, Chieko Matsubara and, later, Meiko Kaji and Tatsuya Fuji.[citation needed] Director Shōhei Imamura began his career there and between 1958 and 1966 made for them such notable films as Pigs and Battleships (1961), The Insect Woman (1963) and The Pornographers (1966).[citation needed]

Daikaiju genre[edit]

Strangely during the height of the popularity of Japan's 1960s daikaiju (giant monster) genre, Nikkatsu only produced one Godzilla-type monster movie, 1967's Daikyoju Gappa (Giant Beast Gappa), released internationally as Gappa: The Triphibian Monster and Monster from a Prehistoric Planet,[7] a film generally regarded as a remake of the 1961 British film Gorgo.[8]

Pink films[edit]

By 1971 the increased popularity of television had taken a heavy toll on the film industry and in order to remain profitable Nikkatsu turned to the production of Roman Porno (from the French word 'roman' for 'novel' and the English word 'porno') and pinku eiga or pink films, which focus on sex, violence, S&M and romance. Hori resigned over the change in focus, and many stars and directors left the company. A few, including the film directors Yasuharu Hasebe, Keiichi Ozawa, Shōgorō Nishimura, and Koreyoshi Kurahara, stayed. It also witnessed the emergence of such new directors as Tatsumi Kumashiro, Masaru Konuma and Chūsei Sone.

Between 1974 and 1986, Nikkatsu promoted a number of their leading Roman Porno actresses of the popular BDSM niche under the epithet "SM Queen" (SMの女王, SM no joō). They include Naomi Tani (1974–1979), Junko Mabuki (1980–1981), Izumi Shima (1982–1983), Nami Matsukawa (1983), Miki Takakura (1983–1985), and Ran Masaki (1985-1986).

The advent of home video brought an end to active production at Nikkatsu. Bed Partner (1988) was the last release in the venerable 17-year Roman Porno series. Nikkatsu declared bankruptcy in 1993.[9]

Sushi Typhoon[edit]

In 2005, the company was sold to Index Holdings and in 2010, a revived Nikkatsu studio announced new production of Sushi Typhoon, a movie series made in partnership with a U.S. distributor.[10] The Sushi Typhoon arm of Nikkatsu creates low-budget horror, science fiction, and fantasy films aimed at an international audience. By 2011, the company had produced seven feature films.[11]


Actors from Nikkatsu[edit]


Prominent directors[edit]

Cultural references[edit]

In 2011, the French director Yves Montmayeur produced a documentary about the Pink Film period at Nikkatsu called Pinku Eiga: Inside the Pleasure Dome Of Japanese Erotic Cinema.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir". The Criterion Collection.
  2. ^ "申請者概要. 33 者 59 番組" (PDF). Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. p. 3. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
  3. ^ Standish, Isolde (2005). A New History of Japanese Cinema. London: Continuum. pp. 18–19. ISBN 0-8264-1709-4.
  4. ^ "Kyusaku Hori, President of Nikatsu Films, and secretary Hideomi Mori at airport, California, February 20, 1951". Japanese American National Museum. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
  5. ^ Pettey, Homer B. (11 November 2014). International Noir. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9780748691111 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Schilling, Mark (29 August 2018). No Borders, No Limits: Nikkatsu Action Cinema. FAB. ISBN 9781903254431 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Galbraith IV 1994, p. 314.
  8. ^ Galbraith,Stuart (1994). Japanese Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror Films. McFarland and Co., Inc.
  9. ^ Macias, Patrick (2001). TokyoScope: The Japanese Cult Film Companion. San Francisco: Cadence Books. p. 188. ISBN 1-56931-681-3.
  10. ^ "Nikkatsu Production (official website)". Retrieved 13 September 2011. [T]he first phase of The Sushi Typhoon's films will be released in late 2010 and early 2011, with the company self-distributing their titles in North America. The first two titles to be released will be Alien vs Ninja and Mutant Girls Squad, with the assistance of FUNimation Entertainment, the Texas-based company responsible for releasing some of the best anime titles in America.
  11. ^ "Films: Sushi Typhoon". Sushi Typhoon. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  12. ^ "インデックス投資と外貨預金".
  13. ^ Todd Brown, "Acclaimed Documentarian Yves Montmayeur Launches 'Pinku Eiga: Inside the Pleasure Dome Of Japanese Erotic Cinema' ", ScreenAnarchy, June 2, 2011


External links[edit]