Mania Grade: C
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: C+
- Age Rating: 17 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 29.98
- Running time: 90
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Kekko Kamen
By Chris Beveridge
February 10, 2005
Release Date: February 15, 2005
What They Say
© ADV Films
No, that’s not a skin-tight pink costume — it’s her skin! She’s Kekko Kamen, the dynamic denuded damsel who fights injustice in the altogether. Her mission? To expose rampant classroom corruption at the Big Toenail of Satan’s Spartan Institute of Higher Education — all while repeatedly rescuing everyone’s favorite victim, the beautiful (and often naked) Mayumi Takahashi, from the Institute’s terrifying torture chamber!
Will our skin-clad crusader be able to straddle the line between indecent exposure and her desire to win decent treatment for the school’s succulent student bodies?The Review!
When you create so many dark and disturbing series over the years, sometimes you need a change of pace. Enter Kekko Kamen, the defender of all that is good who only wears a mask and nothing more.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix included in this release is pretty decent for an OVA of its age but it is a fairly fully feeling mix in the end. A lot of the show is center channel based with its dialogue and action effects leaving the music and some of the bigger scenes to having a wider feel. Dialogue is clean and clear on both language tracks though and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.Video:
Originally released across 1991 and 1992, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. While this was an OVA release it doesn't have the same kind of high production values as a number of other shows from that period but it comes across looking really good but simply a product of its time. The design of the show looks better than some other Go Nagai OVAs of the time in that it's a much cleaner and brighter looking show but the print has a number of small scratches and some dust and dirt visible throughout. Colors look good and maintain a solid feel throughout and there's little evidence of cross coloration but some noticeable aliasing. While this won't win any visual awards, it's a pretty good looking transfer in general.Packaging:
Set up like an old pulp magazine, the cover here is highly reminiscent of the past with its layout, bold colors and simple designs, though that amount of flesh wasn't always on such periodicals. The covers campy style with the series leads in the center and a cute way of showcasing the villains along the side and keeping them involved in the main image works well here. The back cover goes a bit garish with the red dots over the white background in the rising sun style while mixing some standard super-hero fonts and comic book style pieces to it. There's a mix of illustration work and shots from the show along side a detailed overly wordy summary of the show as well as a clean listing of the production info and technical features. The insert just has some red and white artwork of the lead character while the reverse side is just adverts.Menu:
The main menu has a good looking image of Kekko Kamen running across the screen in static form with the logo above her and a bigger headshot next to her while the background is a heavy red piece with small red dots on it and a brief bit of music looping around. With the heavy focus on the red it can be a bit overwhelming but it fits for the show and the menu overall is very easy to navigate and move about in. Access times are nice and fast and the disc properly read our players' language presets.Extras:
The only extra included is a set of character sketches.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Over the years I haven't seen a lot of Go Nagai material but I've seen just about everything that's come stateside and outside of the Devil Lady series, I've managed to not like just about everything the man has done. It's rare to not like so much material from one person but it happens and while Kekko Kamen is indeed the lighter side of things from him, it just doesn't click all that well with me like so much of his material.
The premise of this is campy to the extreme and that's surely part of its appeal; the setting is the Spartan Institute of Higher Learning where the principal, the Big Toenail of Satan, has such an extreme course running that he's able to bring in S&M dominatrixes that are so completely riddled with Nazi symbolism to serve as his master of punishments. For example, the show opens with a big outdoor midnight cram session in a sports field and the teacher promises the ultimate punishment for the person who comes in last in their score. They don't actually get to that point since one of the students is having a hard enough time staying awake and she gets called on it.
Enter the main victim of the series, young student Mayumi. Throughout the course of the four episode she finds herself becoming the subject of much of the punishments and right from the start when Gestapoko is brought in to take her down a notch and find out why she does so badly. This piece actually goes horribly wrong for the administration as it's when Kekko Kamen arrives, a buxom beauty in a mask and nothing more who swoops in from nowhere to rescue Mayumi and save her from the punishment. Kekkok Kamen leaves a calling card using another students pair of panties though and that sets the stage for the next victim, which they amusing try to draw out by using Mayumi again.
This sort of gets repeated across all four of the episodes here where Kekko Kamen ends up fighting different people that are brought in each time. Gestapoko was amusing as the first one with her heavy dark feel and all the Nazi bits, right down to her having the big boots and hat as well as a number of bodyguards, but then they counter that in the next set by bringing in a big muscleman named Shuwarutsu who flexes left and right to impress the girls who then fall under his sway, making it easier for him to punish them for their poor performance and other deeds. But again, enter Kekko Kamen to fight them off with her special moves, such as swinging through the air with her legs wide open and using a Muf-ocation trick to knock them out. A lot of the punishment material that comes up seems to center around Toenail's desire to see his student body unclothed, particularly Mayumi going by this series, so there's always something that someone is doing wrong that will cause problems.
The obvious draw here is the entire naked hero saving people shtick, which does lead to some amusing trailers like this one had with the black bar covering things up. There is plenty of nudity throughout this show, both Kekkok Kamen and Mayumi, but it's not explicit at all and is really left to just a lot of breast shots that do have nipples, which right there is a selling point for a number of people I know who are reading this. Kekko Kamen's nudity is played with throughout the show but they are up front about it a lot of times but it's really not explicit as anything detailed is obscured by shadows or other items, but the effect is there in that it's a strong tease and it's high appealing to young boys likely. If you've seen other Go Nagai works, you're already familiar with his standard level of nudity in the more violent shows and it's really just the same here but done for comedy.
The designs and layout of the show is rather good for its time and it keeps to Nagai's own style well. Kekko Kamen is actually hard to get into since it's just her body and a mask which only reinforces the belief that there's more to attraction than just a naked body, but that may be my age speaking. Mayumi is an attractive enough character and her designs serve well as the maiden that's constantly threatened and taken advantage of here, though I didn't care as much for some of the other characters that got involved along the way, including the female robot which just wasn't attractive at all even though everyone was fawning over her. Go Nagai's characters aren't typically beauties in my minds eye anyway so this wasn't a surprise at all.In Summary:
Kekko Kamen is a title that's definitely got appeal for several different kinds of fans with its campy style, the outright nudity and just the fact that it's from Go Nagai. While the show does work and is very consistent within itself, it just wasn't all that appealing to me. There are some good chuckles to be found within and a couple of well done action sequences but overall the show just didn't manage to really capture or keep our attention and my eyes kept wandering to the countdown clock for each episode. The presentation here is pretty solid throughout and the show makes out well by finally getting a dub instead of being a sub only release but I doubt it has a really wide audience.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Character Sketches
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.