Kekko Kamen (1991) is a live-action adaptation by Go Nagai of his own manga series of the same name. Kakko Kamen is both campy and satirical; an ironically erotic adventure movie. Go Nagai’s works have always demonstrated a penchant for highly imaginative characters and scenarios within the context of various exploitation genres.
The plot summary on letterboxd.com helps give one an idea of what Kekko Kamen is: “Kekko Kamen, the fearless heroine who wears red boots, a red mask, and nothing else, she has an uncanny way of destroying her opponents by stunning them with her private parts and proceeding to kick their butts.” Though this single sentence synopsis omits the role of the villainous Big Toenail Of Satan (Paul Maki) and his sadistic teachers at the Spartan Boarding School for girls it nonetheless conveys the paradox of adult sexual fantasies wrapped up in a PG-13 aesthetic.
Director Hikari Hayakawa, who has also helmed a number of anime, emphasizes the juvenile nature of Go Nagai’s source material. The limited budget and straight to video format of the the production also help establish a sort of barrier between the spectator and the barrage of softcore fantasies in the film. The predatory nature of the faculty and staff at the Spartan School is more than a little disquieting but the affects of this are often swept away by the momentously campy performances and the oddly diegetically motivated theme for Kekko Kamen that plays when she comes to the rescue.
Hayakawa effortlessly evokes the style of anime in his direction of Kekko Kamen. This is a unique little cult film that’s worth seeing at least once if one has an interest in Japanese exploitation cinema. Kekko Kamen is arguably Go Nagai’s most famous character so its a good place to start if one is interested in exploring the intersections between video, anime and manga in popular culture.