The powers that be here at Colony Drop decided that since my post about the apocalyptically terrible Lolita Anime happened to be our most-viewed article (you sick fucks), I should once again submit myself to the terror of horrible hentai and write up my experience to share with you ungrateful bastards.
Unfortunately for them, I decided to watch Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend largely because of its reputation as the king of tentacle cartoon pornography. Despite a large amount of slime-covered prehensile pseudo-penises wielded by demons of the netherworld and a fair amount of gore, it turns out it isn’t that bad. Sort of.
I’ll fully admit that I started watching Urotsukidoji expecting to hate it. It’s reputation had proceeded itself, and my experience as an anime fan being told over the years that this was the most offensive, terrible and disgusting cartoon the Japanese had ever made caused me to believe that it actually might be. It was known in the 1990’s as the most despicable of those Japanimations from the far east, conjuring up images in my mind of some terrifying affront to all that humanity considered good and decent that had the power to break me as a person through extensive employment of tentacles and detailed cartoon vaginas.
I am by no means a fan of tentacles – they remind me far too much of my most hated of all foods (seafood) – but I will say that I find tentacles roughly five trillion times less offensive or revolting than over-sexualized underage cartoon girls. While it isn’t hard to draw a line between questionable real life perversion and lolicon, the origin of tentacles is (oddly) a bit more innocuous. Toshio Maeda, author and artist of the original Urotsukidoji manga, claims that introducing tentacles into his work was a way to get around Japan’s censorship laws:
“At that time, it was illegal to create a sensual scene in bed. I thought I should do something to avoid drawing such a normal sensual scene. So I just created a creature. [His tentacle] is not a [penis] as a pretext. I could say, as an excuse, this is not a [penis], this is just a part of the creature. You know, the creatures, they don’t have a gender. A creature is a creature. So it is not obscene – not illegal.” [source]
The most common misconception people have about Urotsukidoji is that it’s pornography. Admittedly, there is a lot of sex, but most of it features gross monsters that couldn’t possibly be viewed as anything other than celluloid boner-killers, not to mention that at least half of the sex scenes end in at one of the participants ripped to bloody shreds. There’s also the problem of the sex scenes being sandwiched between long sex-free portions of the “story.” So while some of it might be arousing (I guess), I can’t buy the idea that Urotsukidoji was intended for the express purpose of masturbation, and in my book that means it isn’t straight up porn (although it sure is pornographic).
Semantics aside, Urotsukidoji is really just your average 80’s OAV, but with absolutely no inhibitions. You couldn’t throw a rock at Blockbuster’s anime section in the mid-90’s and not hit an OAV of this era that didn’t toss in gore or nudity just because this wasn’t on TV and they totally could do whatever the hell they wanted. Urotsukidoji takes that experimentation with a video-only format devoid of TV or movie limitations and pushes it to the extreme. Despite the rampant obscenity, it still manages to have a coherent (if not particularly original or engaging) story, which means it’s a fair amount better than the loads of crap that came out around the same time.
The story is so uninspired and uninteresting that I won’t bother to spend more than a paragraph describing it: It turns out there’s a demon realm parallel to our own human realm, inhabited by incredibly horny demons who spend most of their time having sex. Sometimes, this sex is with female-demons that have four boobs. Every 3000 years an Overfiend appears and causes the realms to merge and makes life miserable for everybody. It just so happens that this time the Overfiend is housed in the body of college horndog Nagumo. Nagumo’s crush Akemi gets raped by a tentacle-packing demon and everything starts spiraling out of control from there.
What’s interesting about Urotsukidoji is that it’s a unique by-product of the OAV industry. Thanks specifically to the freedoms of the format and the tastes of the fans at the time, the creators of Urotsukidoji were able to make a violent cartoon about demons with a lot of sex, that wasn’t exactly porn, and have it sell well enough to justify a bunch of sequels. Urotsukidoji could be viewed as the pinnacle of an era of excess and freedom when hardcore fans wanted big cartoon boobies and lots of gore and kickass battles between demons and who the fuck cares about the plot anyways.
It isn’t hard to understand why Urotsukidoji was considered so terrible and grotesque at the time, but in this post-9/11 world of Internet horrors it doesn’t manage to offend in the same way. If anything, the absurdity is endearing, and it’s not nearly as painful to sit through as some of the other crap Japanese animation studios were slinging out on VHS. For your average anime fan it won’t offend in the same way it did 15 years ago, and I found it far less traumatizing than my soul-crushing experience of watching Lolita Anime.
Aside from the excessive sex and the gore, Urotsukidoji‘s a fairly average OAV and won’t offer the same kind of laughs that a proper trainwreck anime could. The plot isn’t disorganized and confusing, the design work is decent and the animation is consistent. If nothing else, it’s fairly clear the people behind Urotsukidoji knew what they were trying to do, it’s just that without the shock value there isn’t much to it. Even as a crappy anime to throw on and laugh at with friends, it fails because the novelty of the gore and tentacle sex wears off and there isn’t the necessary kind of blatant stupidity to make it worth watching. Ultimately you’re better off watching something with a dub by Streamline Pictures or directed by Koichi Ohata.