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  HK: Forbidden Superhero Knickers In A Twist
Year: 2013
Director: Yûichi Fukuda
Stars: Ryôhei Suzuki, Fumika Shimizu, Ken Yasuda, Shôta Chiyo, Shunsuke Daitô, Narushi Ikeda, Nana Katase, Tsuyoshi Muro, Shun Oguri, Yoshinori Okada, Jirô Satô, Takashi Tsukamoto
Genre: Comedy, Action, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Kyosuke Shikijo (Ryôhei Suzuki) is the son of a heroic police detective and a dominatrix he met while on a case who quickly found they liked something in each other since he discovered latent masochist tendencies she was only too happy to capitalise upon. Now the father is deceased, and the mother (Nana Katase) is still wont to wield a whip, even on her son who she wants to be interested in girls rather than his school books, but Kyosuke is too shy to even contemplate the idea. That is to say, he has contemplated it but lacks the courage to do anything about it, so has enrolled in the school's martial arts course, only he may be over six feet tall and muscular but his personality renders him a complete wimp. What could he possibly do to remedy this?

How about wearing a pair of panties on his head? No, it's not the most conventional advice and you cannot imagine agony aunts nor counsellors providing it as a cure for whatever drawbacks you may suffer in life, but it does wonders for our protagonist, as once the underwear is snugly fitted over his bonce he transforms into a superhero known as Hentai Kamen, which translates as Pervert Mask if you're not familiar with the original Japanese. If that was the case, you'd soon pick up the idea for there was little he liked doing more than indulging in some industrial strength soul searching, carrying out long internal monologues about his pride and shame with what these new powers allowed him to do.

Or were they forcing him to act this way, his signature combat move to push his crotch into the faces of his enemies? Not only that, but his costume consisted of those panties (which offers him further disguise by altering his eyes), a pair of fishnet stockings and underwear pulled up to create a mankini as sported famously by that cultural commentator Borat. Thus attired, he was ready for anything, as we witness when he beats up a room of criminals holding innocent folks to ransom, and more importantly saving a new girl from his class in the process. She is Aiko (Fumika Shimizu), and against her better judgement she becomes enamoured of Pervert Mask, having a spot of self-examination to conduct herself, yet poor old Kyosuke remains an awkward friend who sits next to her in lessons.

Can our hero admit to the object of his affection that not only is he in love with her, but also a sexual deviant? Considering his predelictions tended to be the clichéd opinions outsiders to Japanese culture might have judged them to be obsessed with (BDSM and ladies' knickers, basically) then it was possible to detect a hearty spoof of the subject in director and co-writer Yûichi Fukuda's work, here adapting a manga to the big screen (though you hardly needed me to tell you that detail, it was blatantly obvious). But a superhero is nothing without a supervillain or three to battle, and Pervert Mask got to go up against a criminal (Tsuyoshi Muro) convinced there is a fortune in treasure hidden beneath the school; he has a large reserve of henchmen to back up his schemes.

Most of which Pervert Mask will try to better, including Very Serious Mask who is a stickler for rules and HK's outfit is not the regulation uniform, but more importantly the true nemesis, an arch-enemy who poses as the lead character and sullies his name by pulling up ladies' skirts in a street spree. The identity of this person isn't too difficult to guess, though he proves even more twisted thus lending him more reserves of strength which leads Kyosuke to accept that he is comfortable in himself as just perverted enough without going too far into outright evildoing. The most important thing here was that it was a comedy, and a funny one at that, just ludicrous to be deliberately risible and though the introspection got a bit much over the course of nearly two hours, it was inventive with the absurdist gags to be identifiably of its homeland and cheerfully sending up the clichés of a million comic books and anime. Plus it planted the thought in the mind: these superheroes, with their tight outfits and appetite for physical punishment, who's to say they weren't perverts too?
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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