Hentai Kamen: the Movie

Tom Smith on Japan’s most perverse superhero

Hentai Kamen

Bruce Wayne has a kick-arse suit, perfectly apt for thwarting Gotham criminals; Peter Parker has arachnid-esque abilities that turn him into a neighbourhood icon following an incident with a radioactive spider; and when a certain Kyousuke Shikijou places ladies’ panties across his visage, it unleashes his inner potential as Japan’s most forbidden superhero – no one’s safe!

Yep, you read right – ladies panties to the face. While Superman proudly dons tight underpants atop of his famous outfit, Kyosuke takes it one step further by using them as a mask, because heaven forbid someone find out his true identity – that would be embarrassing.

Believe it or not, Kyousuke stumbled upon his powers completely by accident. At least that’s the official version of how he came about to have perverse powers as documented in Keishuu Ando’s original manga; Kyuukuoku!! Hentai Kamen (literally ‘Ultimate!! Pervert Mask’), serialised in Weekly Shonen Jump in the early nineties.

Kyousuke, like any other hapless anime hero, is a high school kid lacking the charm to woo ladies. For all the charm he lacks, however, he makes up for in kempo, the martial art almost entirely built on self-defence and counter moves. So when the girl from school that he currently has a crush on gets taken hostage in a bank robbery-gone-wrong, he takes the opportunity to put his kempo skills to the test. But! As he grabs some crime-fighting clothes of his own, he mistakenly uses a pair of panties instead of a mask, unleashing the inner indecent hero.

Lucky for him, his mother’s choice of profession (a kinky dominatrix) has somehow managed to seep into his DNA, and when the panties were united with his face they acted as the catalyst, unleashing the powers of S&M that previously flowed dormant within his veins and push his body to its limits. Fifty Shades of Grey, ain’t got nothing on this.

HK: Forbidden Superhero is the first live-action adaption of the story, and features Ryohei Suzuki (a regular on Japan’s TV drama circuit) as the hentai hero, and Fumika Shimizu (Kamen Rider) as the love interest. The TV cast and low budget meant most people (including the production team) assumed it would be a straight-to-DVD affair, yet it managed to gross 100 million yen (just under £600k) at the box office, with first week takings ten times higher than expected. Never underestimate the power of pants.

Continuing the masked theme, the live-action movie also features music from one of Japan’s rising masked-punk heroes MAN WITH A MISSION, who all wear massive wolf heads on stage. Their second single Emotions has been used. While we’re on the topic of music, Japanese electro-rockers Girugamesh played at London’s O2 Islington Academy this June, and had their drummer Ryo snap his own Hentai Kamen tribute backstage – no imitating for MCM Comic Con, for everyone’s sake.

HK: Forbidden Superhero is out from 15 September on UK DVD and Blu-ray from Manga Entertainment.

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