I recently heard about this documentary via La Carmina’s twitter and immediately searched for it on Netflix. Lucky for me, it was available for instant streaming. The Great Happiness Space is a documentary by Jake Clennell about host men in Japan. Hosts clubs cater to the female clients and women can pay money to have a host entertain her– mostly, this involves talking and drinking, not sex. The more successful hosts are skilled in charming and flirting with their clients. The documentary focuses on one of the more successful host in Osaka, Issei and the boys that work at the club that he owns.
This film is extremely powerful and very revealing. I confess that whenever I walked by host clubs in Japan, it would make me giggle a little. The thought of paying hourly for the company of a pretty boy just seemed so absurd! I knew that it wasn’t so silly to a lot of girls in Japan, who would spend up to $10,000 in one night to spend time with their favorite host. The documentary selected a handful of female characters who they featured throughout the movie, just simply talking about their emotional state. You will be amazed when you hear these women talk; they are beyond intelligent and seemingly strong. The film cleverly does not reveal the fact that these women are all working as prostitutes.
One woman confesses that “deep in her heart” that she wanted to stop selling her body but she fears that she wouldn’t make enough money to go to her favorite host club… and to these girls, the host clubs are their only sanctuary. A place where they are treated beautifully by the host men. It’s like a vicious cycle of addiction of an illusionÂ The girls confess that they feel that the hosts does not judge them because they are all in the same business.
The male hosts, in the meantime, struggle with their own internal conflicts. They can’t seem to find a balance between their business and personal life. Their work eat them up in many ways and the most difficult part is how they can control their feelings for their clients. Not that they fall in love with every girl they see, but in a strange way, they become their friends and confidants. At the same time, these men have to continue to lie in order to keep an illusion of comfort to keep the women coming back and keep the business strong.
The film revealed layers upon layers of complicated emotional issues that both hosts and clients are suffering from. We see them partying, singing, laughing, flirting, and hugging; but when they are talking about their situation, they are so aware of their own unhappiness and how much the world of hosting and prostitution has crippled them emotionally.
I was enraptured by every word spoken in this documentary, fascinated by these individuals living a life that seemed only plausible in a novel or a fictional movie. It led me to understand these people a little bit more and how this business is thriving so strongly in Japan and other countries. I recommend this documentary to everyone– fascinating, dark, emotional and heartbreaking.