By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Haters harp on how The Sopranos overemphasizes man-on-woman violence and negatively stereotypes Italian Americans. They should pull up their pants, 'cause their arguments are butt. The deepest gender-role critique I've watched, read, or heard since leaving the college classroom (how I miss the hallowed halls of Colorado School of Mines!), The Sopranos's gangsta hyperbole can't be faded. What concerns us here, however, is a minor moment in a recent episode, wherein Tonyhaving just described a dream where he sits in the backseat of a Cadillac driven by his wife, Carmelajokingly tells Dr. Melfi that he would prefer women ride in little cars trailing behind men's vehicles, "like in cartoons." (Cue transition.) From The Sopranos's cartoonish characters and violence to Bamboozled's racist-animation montage to The Simpsons, we see just how loony American toons can get, whether subversive or stupid. Preeminent purveyors of animated porn, the Japanese have perfected their own controversial-if-anyone-cared brand of simulated-skin-flick, known as hentai, or ecchi (and which you may've read about in "Dirty Pornos" before, so hit up Dan "I Voted for Gore" Savage if you're too jaded and lame to revisit it). No Italian American stereotyping here, but lots of schoolgirls getting raped by demon tentacles.
Now that's a spicy meatball! La Blue Girl Returns: Shikima Lust (Anime 18) constitutes hardcore hentai, not softcore ecchi (both roughly translate as "perversion" in Japanese, or so Google tells me). The third installment in blush-prone "sex ninja" Miko Mido's never-ending quest to wriggle, gasp, and pout her way into the deepest, most graphic trouble imaginable, this 40-minute, 30-dollar disc opens with a naked Miyu riding her boyfriend to orgasm, narrowly managing to shudder ecstatically as the man beneath groans his release. Miko finds the two in her bed and begins scolding her sister for soiling the sheets; Miyu promptly morphs into their long-dead father or somebody, who in the interest of saving the universe sends Miko off to the "origin of space" to find a "passage" through which time and space itself may be controlled. But does it have laundromats?
After all, the soiled linens aside, Miko soaks more than a few panties and wears the same uniform constantlya jade-green pleated skirt, top, and brown Girl-Scouts-style neckerchief, topped off with an oversized pink bow pulling her long, purple hair into a high ponytail. An apologetic DVD bonus gives background on this anime-typical attire, with other curious details. Apparently the "sailor-style blouse, skirt-and-blazer outfits, and bloomer-style exercise clothes" are meant to evince Japan's pre-WWII, all-ages school uniforms, themselves influenced by German and Victorian styles. And "why are [anime characters'] eyes so large?" Blame Betty Boop. How 'bout those smooth crotches and pits? This "more private matter" (spoken sotto voce) owes to Japan's until-recent outlawing of pubes in the medianot the apparent jailbait status of our heroines. These ladies attend a "two-year university"!
Miko's evil love interest Maho sports a dark patch. By episode's end, she hasn't solved the mystery of his hairy Bermuda Triangle, or even uncovered any vessels lying there in wait. She even cuts off an especially friendly greeting from fellow Moroku clan member Kanakotrained by her "grandmother in the carnal arts" with the specific purpose of pleasuring her long-lost, exiled-princess relativewho peels off her top, goes rather successfully for tongue, and presses two delicate fingers into her cousin's camel toe. But Miko's cheeks grow reddest once she and Maho are captured by a Monsters Inc. reject, who wraps his mucus-slicked members around her. "Miko," she tells herself, "you mustn't get aroused, Maho is watching!" And then, as he plugs her cooch and her chute, her bright tears running, squishing and pumping sounds pulsating: "No, please, not there, not now ... I'm coming!"
If only she had the Twin Angels (Anime 18)self-proclaimed "Guardians of virtue, protectors of purity, defenders of decency"to save her. This DVD's features include an interview with mustachioed producer Rusher Ikeda, wherein he repeatedly references polytheistic "Shinto mythology," and in particular the God of Sex, "whose worshipping object is the male penis." I know it's Judeo-Christian-centric of me to say so, but hentai's ubiquitous rape-tentacles bear more than a passing resemblance to the Satan-snake who tempted Eve with that apple from the tree of knowledge. And who, God forgive me for suggesting such a thing, is better at fetishizing shame and the loss of innocence than a Catholic? (Meanwhile, weirdos with whips, chains, and unhealthy interests in footwear think they're so damn original.)
In any case. These twins, Ai and Mai, ain't no Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. In poetry class at Tenjin College, their tall, unusually womanly teacheractually an evil sorcerer in service of the "satanic sex monster"serves them tea containing either yohimbe or chocolate or oysters or something that gets the whole class drooling at the mouth, dripping at the fingers, and popping out of frilly bras: "Feel free to take off you uniforms and relax. What's that smell? It's the smell of honey from your special hive!" Oh, behave! Meanwhile, young prince and comic foil Onimaro runs away from home and subsequently from an opportunistic, mushroom-headed (!) demon and his snake-eyed apprentices. Sending his timely radar love to Ai and Mai, he shouts, "I'm coming!"
Back in the classroom, Ai begs to be killed while a demon promises to bring her off first. Mai, for her part, writhes on the floor in stupefied ecstasy, causing her sister to sternly inquire, once the evil forces have been fought off, "Mai, you didn't take out the magical plum petal grandma gave us to protect our purity, did you?" (And all along I thought there was a Hymen Fairy!) Attempting to rescue their classmates, who've been spirited off to the "carnal confirmation devil orgy," the twins witness the underworld's biggest gangbang, get bound up, escape, and kill the axis of evil with plum-stem arrows (unlike the petals, these can be fired indiscriminately). Finally, they "go back through the [underworld's] opening," giving us a couple nice upskirts as they tumble out, cleansed of sin. Final shot: Onimaro ejaculating water from his mouth after being tossed in a dangerously wet pond by one of the twins. Dr. Melfi just might have something to say about that.