“Unchained Melody” has been my must-read material for the last month. Like most modern American fans, I have “Kill Bill” to thank for turning me on to Meiko Kaji. While that’s not as cool as saying I was watching Female Prisoner movies on VCD, it’s the truth. This is another Arrow book release that just hits readers with an onslaught of information in the least amount of pages. The index and bibliography are immense bonuses for data nerds like me.

However, most of the information is easily searchable or opinion-heavy. I guess I’m just exposed to a lot of film writing, but I wanted to find a way to introduce more fans to Meiko Kaji. But, wish in one hand and crap in the other…see which one fills up first. Pick this one up if you’re a fan of the once and future Lady Snowblood.


  • Arrow Books
  • Tom Mes
  • 155 pages


  • 93%
    Book Score - 93%

The Plot Thus Far

With such iconic roles as Lady Snowblood and Female Prisoner Scorpion she defined a decade of cult cinema, creating an archetype of female strength that was equal parts ferocious and mysterious. Devoting plenty of space to her star-making turns as Scorpion and Lady Snowblood, Unchained Melody: The Films of Meiko Kaji goes beyond the movies that made her name. This book traces her career from its earliest beginnings as a teen model and tomboyish basketball fanatic to Kaji’s critically-lauded and versatile performances for master directors including Kinji Fukasaku and Kon Ichikawa. Author Tom Mes also investigates Kaji’s acting work in television and the singing career that would eventually introduce her to a whole new, international audience as the musical cornerstone to Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. Tom Mes is the author of books on cult Japanese filmmakers Takashi Miike and Shinya Tsukamoto and was one of the founders of Midnighteye.com, the world’s go-to website for information on Japanese cinema. Cover illustration: Nathanael Marsh

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