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Hentai Kamen: A Feminist Movie Review

One of the great things about living in NYC is that I have the opportunity to go to really cool events like Japan Cuts, a festival of contemporary Japanese cinema. Last year I was able to see an anime about the life of Buddha based on the manga by Osamu Tezuka. This year I’ll be seeing a documentary about the girl group AKB48 and another documentary about the life of Taylor Anderson, a young American woman who died during the tsunami in 2011. However, my partner and his buddies really wanted to see Hentai Kamen: The Forbidden Superhero, so I tagged along.

I fully expected Hentai Kamen to be an atrocious, but hilarious B-movie, but I have to say, it turned out to be one of the best Japanese movies I’ve seen—structurally-wise at least! It had a clear beginning, middle and end. There was character development, action, character development, action etc. The actors and actresses were great and the production values were pretty high.

The movie begins with a hilarious scene of how Hentai Kamen’s parents meet. His Mom is a dominatrix and his Dad is a cop. His Dad tries to bust his Mom but she uses her bondage superpowers to tie him up. His Dad kinda likes it. Fast forward to the future and Kyosuke aka Hentai Kamen is a teen and falls in love with the new girl at school. She gets kidnapped and he goes to save her. He tries to disguise himself from the kidnappers and accidentally puts panties on his face instead of a mask. Since his mom was a dominatrix or “pervert,” when he puts on the panties his “pervert powers” are awakened. Kyosuke is transformed from a shy young man to a sexy, perverted, confident superhero. Boy, is he sexy! At first I thought there might be a body double, but no, Kyosuke’s actor is ripped! It was probably the best thing about the movie! LOL It goes on from there–some bad guys show up at his school and cause more mischief etc.

One element that was completely hilarious was that the movie constantly made references to Spiderman. The movie opens just like a Marvel Spiderman movie, except with ropes and panties instead of webbing. Hentai Kamen even swings through the city with bondage ropes a la Spiderman. Not only that, but it seriously makes you wonder if Spiderman is actually wearing panties on his head instead of a mask!

I was pretty much on board with this film until it got to the part where Hentai Kamen realizes that he can’t just wear any panties, but the panties have to be worn by a woman/girl so he can transform. Urgh. The movie concerns itself a lot with Kyosuke agonizing whether he’s truly perverted or not, and I just felt this part crossed the line into TOO CREEPY. He also constantly forgets the panties which makes him steal used panties–more than once. That’s too close to reality for me to pass that stuff as a joke. Moreover, when Kyosuke dresses as a woman to try to buy the panties, the female sales clerk realizes that he’s a man and becomes completely disgusted. Thankfully she doesn’t act violently towards him, but he is met with disgust nonetheless.

Another element that I didn’t quite expect was Hentai Kamen’s dick superpowers. Most of the time it was just him shoving dude’s faces into his dick–sometimes his dick would get all sparkly and powerful. Not only was this homophobic (and homoerotic), but it pushed Hentai Kamen from being a superhero to being a real pervert himself. Forget wearing panties, he was actually sticking his dick in people’s faces like any ol’ sexual predator on a Japanese or NYC train. It just goes to show you how comfortable people/men are with talking about/waving around male sexual organs while us ladies can’t even protest abortion restrictions in real life without the legislature banning pads and tampons (cuz we might wave *those* in front of men’s faces. SO SCARY!) Hentai Kamen’s dick is literally a weapon. And it’s played off for laughs.

When Fake Hentai Kamen (Hentai Kamen’s arch-nemesis, who is much more perverted than Hentai Kamen) starts flipping up girls’ skirts, Kyosuke’s mom exclaims that Fake Hentai Kamen is a real man and Kyosuke isn’t. That was really disturbing. Um, real men don’t flip up girls’ skirts? And why would a woman (even a ridiculously perverted one) think this? Kyosuke’s mom is played for laughs which I thought was a real bummer—the movie insists that Kyosuke gets his sense of justice from his Dad, not his Mom. It would have been nice if Kyosuke’s mom supported him in his pervertedness, to use his powers for good–which she does as a dominatrix. The film seems to say that Kyosuke’s mom is perverted because she’s a dominatrix. My partner commented that she’s perverted in addition to being a dominatrix, but I still don’t think that’s clear in the film. Plus, again, it just misconstrues what dominatrices do, making them weirdos instead of superheroes.

Perhaps they should do a prequel called Hentai Dominatrix: The Forbidden Superheroine?

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