DVD Review: Kekko Kamen


Kekko Kamen

ADV Films





The Spartan Institute for Higher Learning demands the most from its students.  The principal, Big Toenail of Satan, believes negative reinforcement to be the most effective means of encouragement.  To that end, he and his teaching staff punish under-performing students (or the female ones, anyways) with humiliation by way of forced public nudity.  If only there was a hero who wasn’t deterred by the threat of being naked.

Kekko Kamen is a creation of Go Nagai, an eclectic manga artist famous for Cutey Honey, Devilman, and the giant robot classic, Mazinger Z.  Arguably, he invented the concept of erotic fan service in mainstream manga. Kekko Kamen takes that concept to its logical extreme.

Mayumi Takahashi is a young, blond student of the Spartan Institute.  She gets the worst grades of anyone, and is thus a constant target for corrective humiliation by the faculty and the masked principal.  Though they claim to be motivated only by the desire to improve the academic standing of their students, the teachers clearly derive sexual enjoyment from the process, as well (although they never go beyond leering and giggling).  Teachers lusting after their students is an inherently creepy premise, but as bad as it sounds, it’s presented quite tamely.  It’s done in a silly and exaggerated way that makes it more comedic than erotic.

Invariably, just as Mayumi is about to be stripped of her last shred of clothing, the masked hero Kekko Kamen leaps in to rescue her.  KK wears a red mask with long, floppy bunny ears, gloves, boots, and nothing else.  It’s as if she’s making impotent the villain’s only weapon, the humiliation of forced nudity, by doing it to herself.  I should pause here to say that Nagai’s character designs are simple and cartoony, drawing a lot from Osamu Tezuka; so the nudity is undetailed, and not terribly realistic.

Kekko Kamen finishes off the villains with her signature spread eagle attack, in which she gets the bad guy in a headlock between her legs, leaving him in a lust-induced coma.  The enemies are relatively repetitive.  They each have their quirks, but at the end of the day, they all have the same plan and end up in roughly the same place.  Likewise, Kekko Kamen relies on a few key moves to do her job. She appears at just the right moment, and disappears just as quickly.

Adding to the repetitive feel of the series is the fact that none of the characters is developed in anyway.  We never learn the identity of Kekko Kamen, so we don’t get any insight into her motives or her past.  We can surmise that she’s fighting for good, but origin stories are part of the fun for superheros.  The other characters are just as shallow. Big Toenail is driven by lust, sure, but I’d like to know why he wears the mask, and why anyone would send their daughter to his school.  Mayumi is just the victim.  She’s supposed to get the lowest grades, but we never see her do anything particularly stupid (other than continuing to attend the Spartan Institute).

Kekko Kamen is a silly, if repetitive comedy.  It looks and feels old-fashioned, like it was made in the early eighties (instead of 1991), which gives it a bit more of an innocent /nostalgic tinge than would be expected given its premise.

The DVD from ADV is presented in full frame.  Logos and titles are left in Japanese, while the closing credits (against a black background) are changed to English.  English subtitles and a dub are included.



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