In Hentai Kamen 2, the second film adapted from a manga whose title translates, more or less, to “Pervert Mask,” the Japanese give tired superhero clichés a kinky twist with the heroics of a panty-sniffing deviant who gains superpowers by slipping women’s underpants over his head—the Spider-Man of sleaze, the perverted Peter Parker.
Tony Stark has his Iron Man suit. Batman has his cape and cowl. In these everyman fantasies the clothes make the superman, projecting inner desires into external armor. In this special saga it’s lady panties—used, of course—that unleash the latent powers ingrained in the DNA of an extraordinary hero dubbed Hentai Kamen, a meticulously manscaped crime-fighter in a cock sock.
The first Hentai Kamen, released in 2013, introduced audiences to twerpy teenager Kyosuke Shikijo (Ryuhei Suzuki), a nervous nerd who discovers that pulling girls’ panties over his head transforms him into an uber-confident superhero fueled by his taboo sexual desires. Like many a reluctant hero, he’s a classic Chosen One, his birthright to become a masked vigilante who simultaneously saves and repulses the normative masses of society, a pair of tighty-whities stretched over his shoulders.
Hentai Kamen 2, the first of hopefully many sequels to the original manga adaptation, finds Shikijo in college: a little older, not much wiser, and still wrestling with the great responsibilities that come with his great and unusual power. And let’s be honest: The world has more than enough heroes in fancy flying suits and alien gods on Earth saving humanity every year. What superhero movies need is a hero who fights evil by striking peacock poses, clenching his perfectly toned buttocks, and taunting criminals with his overstuffed package and high-pitched power scream.
The horny sequel finds Shikijo newly sworn off the superhero game to appease his girlfriend, the adorable Aiko (Fumika Shimizu), a good girl troubled by her boyfriend’s all-consuming panty obsession. But true heroes can’t just turn off their yearning for justice; while at work delivering pizzas one day, Shikijo can’t help but shirk his minimum wage duties to nab a band of robbers by sniffing a pair of Aiko’s underoos, morphing into the masked hero to vanquish the bad guys by shoving their faces into his crotch.
A fed up Aiko demands her powerful panties back, triggering a crisis of self in the frazzled Shikijo, who struggles to suppress his most natural unnatural desires in order to live a normal life. Meanwhile, he finds himself in the sights of a sexy biology professor who makes comical attempts to seduce him with her own favorite pair of panties. Unfortunately for Shikijo and the entire unsuspecting nation, an insidious evil is afoot—and it’s intent on destroying Hentai Kamen by stealing all the panties in Japan.
The plot wears thin and scenes start to drag, but the genius of Hentai Kamen 2 lies in its unabashed simplicity and willingness to push one pervy gag after another. It’s a film that knows itself and the limits of its ridiculous premise, even if it exhausts its momentum halfway through. And yet: Movies about flawed but moral superheroes have never been this fun or as self-aware—a charming quality established early on in an opening title crawl clearly cribbed from the Marvel Studios playbook.
The Spider-Man 2 references fly fast and furious, culminating in a sequence of cheap VFX work in which Hentai Kamen swings through the Manhattan skyline like Spidey, flinging from building to building on high-flying bondage ropes. When panties start disappearing from girls’ locker rooms and underwear drawers, the culprit is revealed to be a Doctor Octopus knockoff baddie with tentacle-like arms made of vacuum hoses.
Hentai Kamen 2 also works in a Venom subplot with a pair of cursed panties and a new nemesis in Dynoson, a classmate and rival for Aiko’s affections who transforms into a giant half-man, half-crab intent on devouring all the used panties in Japan in order to deprive Hentai Kamen of his power. “You have no idea how to use panties correctly,” Hentai Kamen scolds when they come face-to-face in a high school gymnasium.
Hentai Kamen’s big bad enemy is a familiar one: a once-vanquished foe who returns as a decapitated head with a new body—a body that happens to be a spindly-limbed metal robot spider. Tsuyoshi Muro steals his scenes as the demented supervillain who twirls his braided pigtails like a mustache and delights in exacting punishing revenge in the most ridiculous ways. But Hentai Kamen’s greatest foe, of course, is himself. Denying the source of his own power leads to his true undoing, and he learns he can only harness his supreme potential by embracing his aberrant fetishes, taboo as they may be, and leaning into the only force more powerful than lust: true love.
Hentai Kamen 2 screened this weekend at Fantastic Fest alongside such eclectic genre delights as The Dwarves Must Be Crazy, a ‘90s-style slapstick actioner about a Thai village of little people possessed by butt-munching demons, and Arrival, the Amy Adams sci-fier angling for Oscars. Written and directed by Yuichi Fukuda, this action-satire succeeds most surprisingly by reminding us of what we never get in American blockbusters, and probably never will: A superhero with a socially taboo character quirk and a penis that can stop bullets.
Suzuki plays his dual roles with committed panache, particularly since as Hentai Kamen he spends all of his screen time in a barely-there banana sling skimpier than the one Borat wore on the Croisette. He plays the nervous student Shikijo with straight-faced neuroticism—even more so in scenes with the over-the-top mother who, he explains in matter-of-fact voice-over, is a professional dominatrix.
He shines as the flamboyant Hentai Kamen, even with his face obscured by underwear, giving a full-bodied physical performance laden with flair and unapologetic bombast. The film’s big climax, a set piece involving a cackling kaiju robot and a spinning-top penis power move, ratchets up the action. But it’s at its best when Hentai Kamen takes center stage, finding power in his preening, striking flamenco pin-up poses while issuing devastating crotch blows with piercing screams of ecstasy.
As Marvel and DC look for exhaustive ways to keep their blockbuster spandex wars marching on into eternity, Hollywood should take a cue from the folks who are really putting a fresh new musk on the superhero genre. “You’re not just a pervert,” one character tells Shikijo just when he’s lost all confidence in himself, the fate of the world in the balance. “You’re a pervert for justice.”