Cloistered Nun: Runa’s Confessions (1976)
Director: Masaru Konuma
Writers: Toshiro Ashizawa
Starring: Runa Takamura, Kumi Taguchi, Roger Prince, and Aoi Nakajima

The Plot: Young Runa (Runa Takamura) is a nun who felt pushed into the monastery after her sister Kumi (Kumi Taguchi) stole her boyfriend. While Runa begins her new life as a nun, Kumi and the previously mentioned boyfriend immediately break off their relationship. For poor Runa, the life of peaceful worship that one expects of a nun turns out to be a nightmarish world of torture. The abbot at the monastery also happens to be a rather sadistic man who likes to get his jollies off with all of the fresh nuns, and poor Runa seems to be his main target. After being far away from home for a long period of time, Runa returns and approaches her sister with a large financial opportunity. However, this opportunity will only work for Kumi if she can team back up with Runa’s former lover. As the story begins to unfold, it becomes more apparent that Runa may be hiding a few tricks up her sleeve.

The Review
The nunsploitation genre has been something that I have always found slightly bizarre. With no affiliation with Catholicism, I’ve never had many experiences with real life nuns. So, their “allure” is a bit curious to me. I suppose the attraction is found in those who feel rebellious towards that church or perhaps it is nothing more than something simply being taboo. Whatever it is that attracts Western viewers to this particular area of sexploitation, I have an impossibly hard time figuring out why Japanese nunsploitation titles actually even exist. With a very small Christian population, much less Catholic, this “taboo” would seem to be lost on the culture. Yet, here it is, in this film as well as other titles such as Sins of Sister Lucia or the much more popular Toei production School of the Holy Beast. At one point, nuns became somewhat popular within the world of pinku. If you’re attracted to this particular niche, there’s a good chance that you’ll love the Japanese variation of this genre. However, similar to the women in prison genre, these movies can be quite repetitive and cliche. Despite this, entertainment can still be found in many of these movies, and Cloistered Nun: Runa’s Confession certainly packs its fair share of that.

I’m still very new to the cinematic world of Masaru Konuma, but I can certainly see the patterns within his work fleshing out in front of me. His work seemed to traverse between being groundbreaking to being very ordinary, if I can be so blunt. Although he was certainly a capable director who could infuse style into his work, with instances such as this film, he gives the appearance of being a much more general filmmaker than many of his peers. Although I believe that Konuma thrived when working with sexual dramas, when he worked in the trappings of conventional genres it seems that he would become somewhat lost. Konuma may not have been the most progressive hand within the nunsploitation or women in prison genres, but he certainly did know how to entertain. Filling his movies up with as much sex as was possible, if his movie didn’t deliver a clever script it at least delivered upon everything else we expect of this genre. Cloistered Nun: Runa’s Confessions is the very definition of this mindset. Folding neatly into the world of nunsploitation while also delivering a rather bland “crime” subplot, Cloistered Nun tries to appease all audiences. However, it usually fails as much as it succeeds.

The only main problem with Cloistered Nun comes from its lack of engaging characters or even plot changes. The few interesting moments within Cloistered Nun usually arise from the kinkiest of sex acts that are performed, but even these moments transpire and turn into something rather elementary. The subplot revolving around Runa’s sister and her attempt to swindle Runa, by pretending to be in a committed relationship with Runa’s former lover so that she can grab the very lofty resell value of Runa’s former monastery, begins with a certain amount of intrigue but quickly devolves into something far less interesting. The monotonous movements of the script are only of interest whenever something spicy happens onscreen, but these moments unfortunately turn out to be far too infrequent. There are quite possibly some arguments being made within the film about imperialism and Western ideals being spread around, but I see this as less likely the case in comparison to Norifumi Suzuki’s clasasic School of the Holy Beast. Catholicism plays a far less sacred or prominent role within this film, and outside of a few moments of nun-related sex, this project becomes something else entirely different. I won’t completely dispose of the notion that Konuma had high aspirations for his film and its narrative content, but I am quite doubtful that this was a script that went through laborious rewrites or given considerable analytical thought.

The cast are all fairly interesting within the movie. The most notable member would be the star of the film, Runa Takamura. A young actress with charismatic charm, at the time of filming she was considered a bit of a pop music darling. This movie would seem to have been her way of breaking away from any previous public image that she may have held within the public conscious. Takamura had formerly been with the group Golden Half, who are notable to Western viewers due to their small part in Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter. They appeared to be a relatively saccharine all-girl pop group quite like many other similar groups within Japan. Runa, after breaking it off with Golden Half, would release a solo album and then almost immediately go into production on Cloistered Nun as well as another project known as Runa’s Confessions: Men Crawling All Over Me. Although pop stars breaking away and doing more adult-centered work is hardly a new concept in our own culture, it’s hard to imagine Demi Lovato starring in a nunsploitation title that also features gang rape and lesbian sex. However, this is Japan, and sometimes they do things a bit different.

The Conclusion
Cloistered Nun: Runa’s Confession hardly makes for great cinema. However, it is an addictive watch despite its pacing issues or its bouts with predictability. Hardly this director’s best work and hardly the apex of the genre, it might still be considered quality viewing for fans of the roman porno market.