Movie: Having been a fan of anime and adult material (the polite term for porn these days) for quite some time, I've longed for a fusion of both that had some humor, decent writing, and didn't feel the need to use either Rape or tentacles inserted into the nether regions of young gals as the sole basis for the movie. Let's face it; such things may well appeal to a limited audience of perverts or children but quickly grow wearisome to those of us seeking material that we can enjoy on many levels. To date, I have yet to find such a series but my hopes remain high given the explosion of anime released on the market in recent years. The closest thing I've encountered to date that at least touches on what I want would be Kekko Kamen from the well known Go Nagai, as released by ADV Films.
The show was an OVA based on Nagai's Manga that follows the exploits of a super heroine, Kekko Kamen, who uses her own unique powers to subdue her enemies in the process of fighting for justice and freedom at a small boarding school. While that description sounds a bit bland considering what I've been looking for, here's a bit more detail to flesh out the concept. The school is formally called Big Toenail of Satan's Spartan Institute of Higher Learning. Like some schools in Japan, it uses strict measures to improve the academic performance of students, including all night testing, torture, and sexual depravity. The principal is evil, the teachers want to have sexual relations with the students, and the premise is like a school from hell like most of us growing up imagine (in our own fertile imaginations).
The story doesn't really begin until a particular student, Mayumi Takahashi, is singled out for torture and Kekko Kamen, dressed only in a red leather mask, gloves, and boots comes to the rescue. She does that in each of the four episodes, saving the gal from the high school punishment counselor, the gym teacher, and principal himself while prancing about naked. Personally, I liked the concept, just not the way it was handled. The naked Kekko would employ her ultimate power move of jumping in the air and landing on the villain's face with her crotch (what does that say about oral sex?), then scooping up Mayumi and getting her out of the room, only to deposit her back at the school.
Like most fighting anime series, this one got old really quickly and the amusing nature of the premise never really had time to develop. Like most half baked ideas, it made me think of how some of the Saturday Night Live skits are not strong enough to carry a full movie (no matter how hard Lorne Michaels has tried to prove otherwise) and what could have been a funny one time skit became a drawn out snooze-fest lasting the better part of 90 minutes. I suppose tastes vary enough that some of you would enjoy watching the limited anime style from 1991 (it looked more retro than that too) and the Nazi themes of the bad guys might amuse you as well but the road to hell is paved in good intentions and I can't rate this as anything but Skip It due to the lack of entertainment value.
Picture: Kekko Kamen was presented in the usual 1.33:1 ratio full frame color that it was shot in. The print used for the DVD transfer wasn't very clean but it didn't look worn out either (no surprise there) and the usually dark look of Go Nagai's material was left behind in favor of a somewhat brighter approach for most of the episodes. I saw some compression artifacts and video noise but not enough to add to the flaws of the material in any significant way.
Sound: The audio was presented with the usual two choices; 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo with the original Japanese soundtrack (and English subtitles) or a new English language dub. The original track's vocals were better; they flowed better and sounded more natural to the visuals, but something about the music and sound effects appeared to be better on the dub. As with all anime, your mileage will vary according to how much you like dubs.
Extras: There weren't a whole lot of extras here (no surprise) as a few character sketches and trailers seemed to be all that was available for inclusion.
Final Thoughts: I like comedy anime as much as anyone and no one can reasonably argue that I'm too sensitive to enjoy adult material involving nudity (especially what amounts to animated nudity) but other than playing to a middle school child's fantasy about how evil school and authority figures are, Kekko Kamen had precious little to offer. If you're one of those types that enjoys this kind of thing while under the influence of some kind of intoxicating substance, you will probably enjoy it more than the rest of us but with all the good anime still left to be released on anime (or maybe even the idea of making something completely new), why bother with something lame even nearly 15 years ago? Skip It unless you have to own everything related to anime but even then, there wasn't much to like.
If you enjoy anime, take a look at some of the recommendations by DVDTalk's twisted cast of reviewers in their Best Of Anime 2003 and Best Of Anime 2004 article!