Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga - The Seven Deadly Sins of Manga: Lustby Jason Thompson, Aug 23rd 2012
Episode CXVIII: The Seven Deadly Sins of Manga: Lust
A person I knew in college once told me that, according to some international survey, Japanese women had the worst sex lives of women in any country in the world. She went on to explain how this proved that Japanese culture was messed up, the people were too sexist, etc. etc.…but as a manga fan, I've heard this argument too many times to count, and it just pisses me off. Japan has its problems like any other country, but I'm sick of hearing pseudo-racist arguments and bogus surveys about how Japanese culture is "perverted," how tentacle porn and rape galge are everywhere, and so forth. Just because your country has more strip clubs than maid cafés, you think you can judge, America?
On the other hand, some manga is definitely perverted, so today let's wallow in the world of the sleaziest manga ever translated! Of course I haven't read every kinky manga ever made in Japan, but even among stuff that's licensed in English, there's many amazing Flowers of Evil blooming in the manga gardens. For this article, I'm eliminating straight-up "adult" manga with actual sex; it's much more interesting, and frankly much more perverted, when the perversion is part of a supposedly "teen-friendly" shojo or shonen title. I'm also focusing on manga where the theme itself is kinky, not just action and sci-fi manga that have a lot of fanservice, like Highschool of the Dead, Tenjho Tenge, Seraphic Feather, etc. Some manga are off the list because I already wrote about them—the tentacle-monster Yukio Mishima-esque battle manga Apocalypse Zero, the just plain dirty Baron Gong Battle, or pretty much any Kazuo Koike manga. And there's a few that almost made the list but not quite, like Sundome, or anything by Satoshi Urushihara.
Let's be frank: it's easy to find horrible disgusting adult manga that would make you instantly claw your eyes out. But for this article, I'm focusing on pervy manga that, on first glance, aren't so pervy at all…manga where the perviness acts cute and sneaks up on you, like Akira in Ai Ore. This is the sort of thing that you can't find in American pop culture. Here, then, is my list of the seven dirtiest translated manga that I would put in the Immortality Drive to orbit forever around the planet Earth and scare alien races out of invading.
Imagine a maid manga, like Mahoromatic, Hanaukyo Maid Team or Indian Summer, where the hero has a maid who acts like a surrogate mother figure, cooks and cleans and wears sexy French dresses. Then imagine a shonen manga like Pokémon or Yu-Gi-Oh! where the hero has a bunch of monster servants and the moral is to be kind to lesser life forms. Then imagine a manga about how important it is to study and do well in school. Then imagine a manga about a fetish for Eastern European women. Mix all these manga and you have Takahiro Seguchi's Enmusu, a manga about a boy who gets a sexy maid whose mission is to help him study and achieve academic excellence so he can pass his tests and become THE RICHEST BOY IN THE WORLD!!! The hero, Gisuke, is a loser kid until he meets Sonya, a cheerfully cute Russian mail order bride maid who shows up to give him a magic omamori (talisman) which makes him eligible for the super-secret school tests of awesomeness. The winner will inherit all the money of a super-wealthy maid-loving businessman. Unfortunately, he must also compete in the tests against other kids, most of them totally rich, spoiled, evil brats who also have sexy maids whom they callously abuse, unlike Gisuke who only uses his maid for the purposes of good (although they do take baths together). Like any truly dirty manga, in Enmusu, it's all about context; if there was maid sex in some 18-and-up adult manga, who cares, but imagine maid sex in A MANGA AIMED AT 14-YEAR-OLDS! In the later volumes, it gets even weirder, with a sort of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory mentality in which the good kid is rewarded and the bad kids sexually abuse people and then are punished. "I have no idea who is supposed to be reading this," wrote baffled reviewer Tom Spurgeon. This manga is so dirty it makes He Is My Master look like Maid in Manhattan. To me, the fact that only one volume of Enmusu was translated is the saddest thing about the death of ADV Manga (despite the terrible lettering, rumored to have been done by unpaid ADV interns).
6. Ai Ore
Mayu Shinjo is one of the dirtiest "mainstream" shojo mangaka. Sensual Phrase is a masterpiece of lurid shojo-with-sex, the kind of thing that made Shōjo Comic the least favorite manga magazine of the Japanese PTA. Then there's Haoh Airen ("Despotic Lover") which Viz licensed, announced and almost published, until they realized it was full of, well, bodice-ripping scenes. Aka nonconsensual sex. Aka…well, anyway. Haoh Airen was considered too disturbing for the American market, but Viz still licensed Ai Ore. The plot: cute young Akira is a fan of Blaue Rosen, a band famous for its handsome members and especially its manly, ravishing lead, Mizuki. The twist: Akira is actually a boy and all the members of Blaue Rosen are girls, only they all look like members of the opposite sex. Furthermore, Blaue Rosen go to A Girls' school where all the girls have the hots for them, and Akira goes to a boys' school where every guy wants to get in his pants. But in his heart of hearts, cute little Akira is a dirty dog who wants to do bad things to Mizuki (even though he's a foot shorter than her), and Mizuki is secretly a sub so she's just fine with that. This manga mixes yuri and yaoi tropes into a four-car gender-bender comedy car wreck, flipping Shinjo's usual sex-hungry dominant-guy trope by making him…well, he's still sex-hungry and dominant, he's just really pretty. The moral of the story: you can get away with more bodice-ripping if the guy looks like a girl. (See also: Minari Endo's Maria Holic.)
5. Voyeurs, Inc.
This seinen manga oddity by Hideo Yamamoto (better known for his later manga Ichi the Killer and Homunculus) was one of the main titles in Pulp, Viz's failed seinen manga magazine of the 1990s. The plot: three guys, Ken, Smile, and Cho (not to mention their frequently pooping dog, Husky) run a private detective business out of their van, using Ken's expertise with surveillance technology to spy on cheating husbands, runaway children, etc. While it starts out with a relatively predictable story arc about Japan's favorite 1990s crime wave, schoolgirl prostitutes, in the second story arc it turns into total sickness as the protagonists match their wits against a perverted stalker who has a crush on an elevator girl. The twist: the stalker has a cockroach fetish, and can't get off unless he covers the object of his desire with crawling cockroaches. (It must have been nice for Young Sunday readers to think that there was actually someone out there with a kinkier fetish than the ones they already have, even if he's fictional.) Doggie sex, cockroach porn, incest, Yamamoto's blocky art, copious jerking-off scenes, and a generally sleazy attitude make this softcore-Scooby Doo detective story the embodiment of all that was unsaleable about Pulp magazine, as well as of a whole world of Japanese seinen titles that nobody ever translates.
It's a technicality to list this title, as Kaworu Watashiya's Nymphet—better known to fans by its original name, Kodomo no Jikan—was never actually published in the US, being canceled prior to release due to public outrage. Seven Seas Entertainment announced the license in 2006, translated and lettered the whole first volume, and started sending out review galleys, but no sooner did the press start to review it then people started saying "WTF!!! THIS MANGA IS ABOUT A NINE-YEAR-OLD GIRL SEDUCTIVELY TAKING OFF HER PANTIES!!!" This wacky school (romantic?) comedy is the story of Daisuke, a 23-year-old elementary school teacher, whose first classroom assignment is complicated by a classful of lovably troublesome third-grade girls, especially the firebrand of the class, Rin, who falls in love with him and decides that a 14-year age difference is nothing. (Well, it's not quite as big as the age gap between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, but they didn't meet when Katie was in elementary school, either.) Rin is constantly looking at Daisuke and thinking "If only I were older…" Furthermore, she's also constantly sexually harassing him, lifting up her skirt, writing "I want you to come inside me" for school writing assignments, and teasing him that if he doesn't molest her, she'll just tell everyone he did and get him arrested. ("Sensei…what do you think would happen if I were to scream 'help' right now…?") It probably doesn't make this any better to point out that Nymphet also spends lots of plot time on Daisuke's earnest struggles to be a good teacher, making lesson plans, dealing with problem students, talking to big-breasted lady teachers in the students' lounge, etc. Incidentally, this kind of stuff is controversial in Japan too, where on the one hand you have artists like Mimei Sakamoto proclaiming "This fetish you call 'moe' is pedophiliac…In other countries they'd call what you're fantasizing 'child pornography'!" (in Shukan Bunshun, 2006) and on the other hand you have Kaworu Watashiya, the creator of Nymphet, defending her work on her blog and remarking bemusedly on the cultural differences between America and Japan. I guess we're just not ready for sexy single (-digit) women.
3. All Nippon Air Line
It's not easy to pick a dirtiest Boys Love manga. In terms of sheer porn, there was some really explicit stuff published by Media Blasters and the now-defunct company DramaQueen, although nowadays publishers seem to be playing it much safer. (Although, even though it's not Boy's Love, some fans of dirty, manly BL might enjoy the upcoming first ever English edition of the bara manga of Gengoroh Tagame.) In terms of ick factor, there's the "lock you up in a room and rape you repeatedly" romances of Eiki Eiki, and all the "young boys" yaoi manga, such as You & Harujion, or Lovely Sick, or Almost Crying, which led to a lively debate on Christopher Butcher's blog when he called it "shota" and a (now-former) DMP employee threatened to sue him.
But if you're rating Boy's Love by how perversely self-parodying and self-aware it is, there's only one choice: Kei Azumaya's All Nippon Air Line. This Boy's Love parody involves a very special airline company—sort of the Soul Plane of yaoi—whose employees entirely consists of handsome gay men. It's a wet dream at 30,000 feet as the men of A.N.A.L. entertain their soon-to-be-gay male passengers and their soon-to-be-heartbroken wives with sexy muscle shows, special "happy ending" airline service, and lots of accidental splashing with "milky white" Calpis water. Not to mention the owner of the company who hires all his employees on the casting couch, the steward who has a fetish for bald men, and the announcer whose sexy voice makes men climax when they hear it. All of this takes place in short 8-page chapters, so there's not really any plot or character, and that's just fine. It's completely ridiculous, completely cheesy, not sexy at all, but so so funny in all the wrong ways. If you've read too much yaoi and you love double entendres, let the staff of All Nippon Air Line sooth you. Note the use the word "staff."
2. I Don't Like You At All, Big Brother!!
East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet, at least if you're talking about incest manga, which in Japan is a fairly accepted kink, but in America, is a fast way to get your book removed from amazon. Both shojo and shonen manga fans seem to love stepbrother-stepsister scenarios, and it's not all porn either; there's sibling romances in Shōjo Manga like Cherry Juice, Marmalade Boy and The Devil Does Exist, and seinen manga like Koi Kaze, not to mention all the incest in yaoi and yuri.
It's gotten to the point that brother-sister romances are a whole subgenre of "forbidden" romance, a commercially accepted type of tender, delicate angst…which is why it's nice to have something like I Don't Like You At All, Big Brother!! come along and tear the genre's heart out through a sucking chest wound. Originally published in the online site of Comic High! (www.comichigh.jp/), and now translated by Seven Seas (god bless, you, Seven Seas, for staying on the cusp of weird fetish manga!!), this is the story of a teenage girl who has a crush on her big brother, despite the fact that he is an internet-porn-addicted, neurotic pervert. Nao's greatest pleasure is "accidentally" exposing herself to Shuusuke ("To see him get all hot and bothered after his peepers get a full dose of my blossoming womanhood, well…a nip slip or two every now and then is well worth the price!") and going through his porn collection, throwing out everything but brother-sister romances. ("I know that at 12, he secretly started to look at porn. I also noticed the dramatic attrition rate of tissues in oniichan's room only!") But then, Shuusuke's ex-classmate who has the hots for him shows up, and it's time for a SUPER-OBSCENE LOVE TRIANGLE. This could almost be the plot of a 'normal' love-com manga, except that the dialogue is so over-the-top and everything is so raunchy. ("I've memorized countless mathematical equations and historical milestones that I think about whenever I see Nao's panties, just to help me from getting hard!"' ) There's actually no sex and really not that much visual fanservice at all, which is a good thing, because the art isn't its strong point—but in what other 16+ manga will you see a girl doing masturbation air-guitar? "I am well aware that this is an incredibly vulgar and stupid manga," writes Kusano in the afterword for volume 1. Yes, Kusano. We know too. Only in manga could incestuous romance be a big enough genre for artists to parody.
Seiji Matsuyama's Eiken is like a punch in the face to everyone who likes shonen manga love comedies. Shonen love-coms, from DearS to Pastel to I"s, are all about mixing fanservice withemo; for every scene of some girl's panties, there's a scene of the hero acting sensitive so that the girls think he's a nice guy. Sometimes there's more perversion, sometimes there's more love, but technically you're supposed to take it all seriously and sympathize with the characters somehow.
Eiken, on the other hand, is like a shonen love-com as directed by John Waters; you're just watching these awful people do awful things and you know that eventually, someone's going to eat something disgusting. Published in the world's most twisted shonen magazine, Weekly Shōnen Champion (which also published Mai-Hime and Enmusu), it takes the love-com formula and cranks the fanservice up so high it's a pornographic parody of what love-coms are "supposed" to be. The plot involves Densuke, a typical sensitive loser who ends up in the school's "Eiken" club, surrounded by girls. However, all the girls are freakish anatomical mutants with breasts so big they look giant testicles. Every possible "the guy trips over and stumbles and grabs the girl's breasts" cliché scenario is exploited to the most obscene extreme. There is also a notable food fetish, with plenty of scenes of the female character sucking on hot dogs and things, or covered with natto, porridge, sauce or any imaginable kind of suggestive liquid.
When I first saw this manga, I didn't know what to make of it. Was it a bad-taste parody, an attempt at creating the world's awfulest manga? Or was it possibly for real? I think I got my answer back in 2008 when Matsuyama very graciously (amazingly, even)consented to be interviewed in Otaku USA magazine. His answers were evasive, playful, even a little teasing (Otaku USA: "How old were you when you started reading fanservice manga?" Matsuyama: "About the same age that you were.") Then came this question:
OTAKU USA: Who is your biggest artistic influence?
MATSUYAMA: Hayao Miyazaki. I'm influenced by the way he uses food and eating scenes to show the emotional connection between the characters.
SEIJI MATSUYAMA=EVIL GENIUS. I can't actually recommend this manga; it's so gross it's unreadable. But if you dare to peer into the twisted pervy heart of shonen love-coms, with all the love and emo stripped away, then you might want to read this manga. As H.P. Lovecraft might have said, we live on a placid isle of ignorance in the midst of black seas of dirty manga, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. These are my choices of the seven dirtiest non-porno manga ever translated. What are yours?
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