In the early 1970s, continuing a trend from the late 60s, younger film makers such as Koji Wakamatsu (b. 1936), utilized the growing roman-poruno genre to inject the youthful politics of the New Wave into films like Tenshi No Kokotsu (Ecstasy of the Angels, 1972).
Yoji Yamada introduced the commercially successful Tora-San series (also known as It’s Tough Being a Man) about traveling merchant Torajirō, who is always unlucky in love, while also directing other films, notably the popular The Yellow Handkerchief, which won best picture at the Japanese Academy Awards.
This new-style samurai film prospered into the early 1970s, with stars like Shintaro Katsu (1931-1997), who appeared in over twenty films as the wandering, blind swordsman Zatoichi, but by then overexposure on television, the aging of the samurai stars, and the continued decline of the mainstream film industry stalled the production of these surprisingly original genre pictures.
Coincident with the new-style samurai film was another male-oriented genre, often filled with more graphic violence than the samurai film. Known as the yakuza (gangster) genre film, it became the staple of Toei Pictures.
Kinji Fukasaku directed the Japanese portion of the American-Japanese film chronicling the attack on Pearl Harbor, Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) and completed the epic Battles Without Honor and Humanity series of Yakuza films in 1974.
New wave filmmakers Susumu Hani and Shohei Imamura retreated to documentary work, though Imamura made a dramatic return to feature filmmaking with Vengeance Is Mine (1979), the story of real-life serial killer, Iwao Enokizu.