Koichi is a Japanese man living alone in Berlin. He has no job and hardly any friends. One night Koichi meets Ryota at a bar which is also a sex club. Ryota came to Berlin to visit a German guy whom he had “met” on a dating app. His high hopes for romance (and marriage?) were quickly crushed since the German was only interested in sex, not even letting Ryota stay for the night. That is why Ryota ended up spending the night in the dark room of the sex club. Koichi for some reason lets Ryota stay at his apartment. They have sex. Ryota goes out almost everyday to get laid by various local men and comes home to Koichi’s. Increasingly caught up with a strange feeling that is akin to but not quite frustration or curiosity (needless to say, it is not even close to love), Koichi gradually gives himself up to sex with Ryota.
Eight years since Hatsu-koi (First Love) was screened at the Panorama Section of the Berlin International Film Festival in 2008, filmmaker Koichi Imaizumi was back in Berlin to shoot his latest feature Berlin Drifters in 2016. Unlike Hatsu-koi that portrays a process in which a Japanese high school student gains a gay identity, his new film depicts a story of grown-up men who drift from Tokyo to Berlin. Gengoroh Tagame, the internationally renowned gay erotic artist from Japan, has written a screenplay for the first time. How have the conditions surrounding male gay love and sex in Japan changed over the past ten years? What conditions have remained unchanged? Using “Berlin” as a reflecting mirror and a medium, Berlin Drifters addresses such issues. This is the 21st –century version of “a (gay) ‘Last Tango in Paris,’” danced by the men who continue drifting.