Power Dynamic Through Gender within Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter
Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter is a story about race and gender in Japan. It tells of a conflict that arises from two different street gangs the Eagles and the Alleycats, who consist of all-male and all-female members respectively. The conflict in question being that a member of the Alleycats refused the advances of a member of the Eagles in favor of a “half-breed” as they are referred to in the movie. What follows is a racial purging of the half-Japanese people from the city within the film.
When it comes to who is the coolest within the film, it is quite clear who it is the movie is trying to promote. At first I thought it would be Mako, the leader of the Alleycats, but I will come back to this later. The coolest person in the film is the male lead Okamoto Kazuma, a half-Japanese in search of his sister.
Before Kazuma is introduced, we are shown a scene within a club with a group of women singing together and dancing on stage. It is both metaphorically and actually what catches the eyes of both the audience watching the film and the bargoers. They exude a presence that overshadows everyone in the bar. When Kazuma first appears, he is singing a song acapella, or without backing instruments. Similar to the singers in the club, Kazuma is able to captivate the audience and Mako while only being by his wholesome. This serves to put a sort of spotlight on Kazuma and highlighting him as someone charming and cool. He is also able to make Mako fall in love with him, which was quite a feat seeing as she was just about to kill another of her gang members moments before.
Another scene is when Kazuma is at the bar where his sister was adopted by the owner. When Megumi, his sister, comes in after being raped by the Eagles, he sets out to get revenge. When he does, he sends a message for Megumi but tells it to the owner even though his sister was right there. This action shows the audience that Kazuma was ready to die for his sister and did not want her to worry about him. I guess at the time, it was cool to not be honest with a person, but be straight to anyone other than them.
The least cool person in the film is Susumu, the member of the Eagles who tried to advance on one of the Alleycats in the beginning of the film. Not only did he instigate the whole racial purge in the film, but he also questions his actions at the end and walks away to his death. What makes Susumu uncool is that the switching of his morals was so sudden and out of left field that it broke my immersion while watching the movie. One moment he is beating down Kazuma with a metal chain and the next moment he says he was wrong as if he was a different person. There was no buildup to this development and it just feels wrong. The way he tried to walk away from everything even after everything he had done was akin to taking the high-road on the Eagle’s racial purge and disassociating with them. The revelation that he was a half-breed as well was also out of the blue and immersion-breaking that I was dumbfounded.
Going back to why Mako was not the coolest person within the film can be attributed to a passage from “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”. The author, Laura Mulvey says that “as the narrative progresses [the woman lead in a film] falls in love with the main male protagonist and becomes his property, losing her outward glamorous characteristics, her generalised sexuality, her showgirl connotations; her eroticism is subjected to the male star alone,” (811). This is painfully obvious in the film. Remember when she was going to kill one of her members? By the end of the film she could only scream and cry for both Kazuma and Baron, the leader of the Eagles, to stop killing each other. Mako transformed from a strong and wild leader to a meek and helpless crybaby at the end of the film. It could be said that this is due to her falling in love with Kazuma, which further proves Mulvey’s point.