New Arrow Books line debuts with an exploration of the star of LADY SNOWBLOOD & FEMALE PRISONER SCORPION

Unchained Melody: The Films of Meiko Kaji is available now as Spine #001 kicking off Arrow Video’s new book line.

Cinephiles familiar with Arrow Video’s Blu-ray releases know that they often come with colorful, high quality illustrated booklets showcasing some writing on the films along with choice artwork, photos, and design elements.

Arrow is channeling that particular strength into a new line of books, which has kicked off with a huge start, covering screen legend Meiko Kaji. Kaji’s work in Japanese 70s pulp fare was a crucial element of the most exciting eras in film history, and includes starring turns in Blind Woman’s Curse and the Female Prisoner Scorpion, Lady Snowblood, Wandering Ginza Butterfly, and Stray Cat Rock franchises, as well as supporting roles in other films.

I was a bit surprised at the book’s aesthetic, expecting a more magazine-like design in keeping with Arrow’s Blu-ray booklets. But this is in fact truly a book intended for reading, not perusal. It’s sparsely illustrated throughout (which I emphasize in these photographs to showcase their visual elements) but the star is clearly the text.

At 158 pages cover to cover, the book provides a breezy but fairly comprehensive look at Kaji’s incredible career, not only discussing Kaji’s best known films but her entire career including earlier supporting roles and forays into television and music, as well as some connected diversions into several directors with whom she worked.

Author Tom Mes’ writing is well suited for the material. The book carries an appropriate tone and is well-written, neither overly simplistic nor dryly academic.

The book’s dimensions are slightly larger than a standard Blu-ray case, or approximately the same size as Arrow’s box sets, giving it a shelvable presence alongside your books or movies, or most notably their Kaji collections (also pictured: Criterion’s Lady Snowblood Blu-ray set).

Arrow’s release of Unchained Melody coincides with another analysis on Japanese film, covering anime sci-fi classic Ghost in the Shell.

Get it at Amazon:
Unchained Melody: The Films of Meiko Kaji

All product photography in this article was taken by the reviewer.

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