My final poster design in the Female Prisoner Scorpion series is for director Yasuharu Hasebe’s only entry, and Meiko Kaji’s last outing as Nami Matsushima/Sasori/The Scorpion, Grudge Song. While it lacks the wild creativity of Shunya Itō’s incredible trilogy, Hasebe was no slouch – a veteran of Nikkatsu’s ‘borderless action’ yazuka movies of the late 1960s, including his remarkable Retaliation which featured Meiko Kaji in a supporting role, and 3 entries into Kaji’s sukeban series Stray Cat Rock. A sombre and fascinating coda to the wilder Itō pictures, this film allows Kaji to ground her portrayal of Nami more than at any other time in the run – even going so far as to find her a male love interest for the first time since the evil corrupt cop that sent her down the path of cyclical incerceration and revenge. The film even features fascinating visual callbacks to the first film in the cycle that evoke that relationship, deepening the drama and dourness when things inevitably go awry for our stoic heroine.
I’ve tried to capture that pared-back simplicity with a bold and stark design that incorporates a flower-shaped bloodstain – visually representing one of the more memorable kills in the series as Nami eludes capture by driving a flower into a cop’s jugular. The bloodstained fabric refers to that visual callback during Nami’s brief moment of physical intimacy she shares with the damaged anarchist she comes to trust enough to take to bed – a visual motif that in the original film also recalls the hinomaru flag.