To some, Akio Jissôji’s best known for sci-fi: the fantastical ‘60s TV show ULTRAMAN and 1988’s extravagant TOKYO: THE LAST MEGALOPOLIS. Previously unknown to North American audiences are his pointillistic New Wave films, made under the aegis of the seminal Art Theatre Guild. Three of them form a loose Buddhist Trilogy -- THIS TRANSIENT LIFE (‘70), MANDARA (‘71) and POEM (‘72.)
Jissôji’s first color feature MANDARA continues to maintain a high level of controversy, focusing on a sex cult whose members hope to achieve true ecstasy. Filmed in a radically stylised manner as with all Jissôji ATG works,, the film sits somewhere between the pinku genre and the fiercely experimental approach of his Japanese New Wave contemporaries.