Onna Toseinin

The Orphan Gambler


This 1971 film is set towards the end of the Taishō period. Therefore, in the film, there are guns, steam trains, and landline telephones. The fights between the yakuza are carried out with firearms and also with swords.
The film is partly bloodthirsty, as in the opening sequence shown here, and partly coarse. However, the female protagonist Sumiko Fuji is convincing in this tragic drama.

Movie Data

Original title: 女渡世人 Onna Toseinin
English Title: The Orphan Gambler
Original language: Japanese
Published: 1971
Length: 91 minutes

Director: Shigehiro Ozawa
Script: Tatsuo Honda

Sumiko Fuji: Okoma Tsumagoi
Koji Tsuruta: Joji Tsukuba
Gannosuke Ashiya: Katsuji Hanada
Michiyo Kogure: Otaki, mother of Okoma
Tatsuo Endō: Yakuza Ishiwari
Shizue Natsukawa: Otami

The Film

Japan circa 1920. Okoma Tsumagoi is a roving, independent yakuza who gambles for a living. At the beginning of the story, she settles scores with another yakuza, showing off her skills with both a pistol and a sword. Along the way, she meets Tsukuba, another gambler. He has his 8-year-old daughter Onatsu in tow since her mother has already died. Okoma takes care of Onatsu when she suddenly falls ill. She remembers her own story. Okoma grew up as an orphan at the Yakuza and is still looking for her own mother.
Okoma takes little Onatsu to her grandparents at her father's request. They live in Kakei, a bathing resort with hot springs. This is where the whole tragedy of events unfolds, because the dishonorable Yakuza Ishiwari wants to take control of the bathing resort with its three hostels.
There are a few "humorous" interludes in the film that are of an unusually flat level, such as the quarrels between Okama's assistant Hanada and his love or the scenes with the young couple on their honeymoon in the inn. The Chinese doctor, who sells medicines and cracks a few jokes, fares a little better.
Sumiko Fuji plays the role of Okoma very convincingly. In the end all what is left to her is the song:
"The first wrong step leads to the next
and to the other wrong steps in life.
I don't want to believe that this is my destiny.
I wipe my tears and get up again.
I keep walking while the wind blows cold against me.
Such is the life of a female yakuza."