At some point, you have to own up to the fact that you are not an aloof and ironic observer watching an ultra-violent, sex-soaked orgy of demons and teenagers battling for supremacy, but that you actually like it. It’s full of objectification, nihilistic destruction, and childish writing, but it’s entertaining as hell. I can’t defend Urotsukidōji: Legend of the Overfiend. Normally, I would take some kind of clinical, academic stance and analyze it to mask my enjoyment of ideologically atrocious material like this, but what’s the point? Even now, I am using phrases like “ideologically atrocious material,” but the fact is I enjoyed it. It’s an insane romp through the libidinous chaos of adolescent frustrations.
I think I had convinced myself that I didn’t really enjoy anime, but maybe it’s just that I don’t enjoy most of the current trends in contemporary anime. Jesus! Now that I have admitted to hiding behind a veil of academic criticism, everything I write sounds like bullshit. I just don’t find Evangelion, Vampire Hunter, or Fullmetal Alchemist compelling. I think maybe they take themselves too seriously. Maybe I find all the sex and violence in movies like Urotsukidōji acceptable because it is so over-the-top.
Urotsukidōji was a significant influence in the hentai genre. In particular, in its use of tentacle porn. We’ll get to that later. Urotsukidōji was made in 1989 and was the first anime to receive an NC-17 rating. It was directed by Hideki Takayama, and co-written by Toshio Maeda, Shô Aikawa, and Michael Lawrence.
After voicing all the characters, the entire cast decided to use stage names in the credits to prevent their real names from being linked to the movie. I said I enjoyed it, but there is an awful lot of rape in it. OK, to tell you the truth, I wrote the first two paragraphs of this article when I had only watched the first 31 minutes of the film. I was excited by all the craziness, but now I am 106 minutes in, with 40 more minutes to go, and I am getting tired. After an hour of watching cascading splashes of blood and cum generously sloshed everywhere, it does get a little hard to take.
The drawing and animation help pull you through. They are pretty spectacular. Everything and everyone bursts open in an explosion of goo, and then morphs into some crazy monster/demon/beast version of themselves. It’s all clearly a metaphor for puberty. No one asks if you want to grow hair under your arms or pimples on your face, but puberty happens to you anyway, and suddenly your innocent thoughts of ice cream and Superman cartoons are replaced by a teeth-grinding obsession with sex.
The film gets pretty graphic. During a private meeting with an innocent female student, a female high-school teacher bursts open and reveals that she is really a demonic morass of penis-headed tentacles. Then, of course, she uses her appendages to rape the unsuspecting student. Each penis-head has an eyeball where the hole should be, but that doesn’t prevent the eye/ball/holes from shooting torrents of neon semen all over the poor girl.
There are some male homoerotic scenes, too. At one point, a male demon licks the semen of a different demon off of a girl’s face. Ingesting the semen gives the demon superpowers, which sounds like something a desperate young boy might try to convince a hesitant young partner of. It’s a lot to take in.
Somewhere in all this is a plot. I’ll let the giant devil kaiju explain the premise in his own overblown biblical way, “3,000 years ago, I created three worlds: the human world, the maki, and the jujinkan. I expected great results, yet after 3,000 years, I find all three worlds filled with hate, anger, and greed. 100 years from today, I will be reborn. I will once again revive the spirit of the three worlds. I will recreate the human race. A race that will respect love and respect honor.”
I don’t know, it all seems pretty familiar, except the son of God wasn’t a thousand-foot tall, bright red demon with thousands of penis-headed tentacles. If he was, all those gold crucifixes around people's necks would look a lot cooler.
The climactic armageddon at the end lasts forever, with one operatic soliloquy after another. All anime, be it hentai or otherwise, has to end with the characters screaming each other's names over and over again. "Naaagoooomohh!! Akemiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!" It’s all very Wagnerian.
The never-ending death throws of the film blend the existing puberty tropes with nationalistic predictions of Japan's rise from the ashes of World War II. This is actually a common blend in anime. Japan is likened to an adolescent emerging from childhood. It is seen as rising from obscurity and discovering its true power. The only thing missing in this particular film is the mechanization. Usually, giant robots are leading the way.
Every nation, every culture has its own type of neurotic fantasy. America loves its macho superpose with shiny smiles and squeaky clean morals. Germany is obsessed with dark and devious miscreants tortured by angst. France wants to watch pretty people smoke cigarettes and be cruel to each other. We all have our national hang-ups. Japan’s just happens to be particularly colorful. Lucky for us, Japan is willing to flash their dirty, little fantasies on a twenty-foot movie screen. Arigato gozaimasu.
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