By Andrew Osmond.
Let’s think about sex; let’s talk about sex; let’s obsess about sex. Shimoneta has sex on its brain. And so it visualises the ultimate nightmare world, where the mere concept of sex is fast becoming a thought crime, porn is burned on sight, naughty words have police battering the door down, and spreading filth is a revolutionary act.
The good thing about regulators, though, is they give filth free publicity. For example, Britain’s own respectable BBFC has given Shimoneta – which is the uncensored, too rude for TV version of the show – an “18” certificate. Ker-ching!
So… in Shimoneta’s future, Japan is the most pure-minded nation in the world (stop sniggering at the back) – the full title of the anime in Japanese is “A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist”. Citizens are tagged with metal collars – no, the collars won’t blow your head off, but they do ensure that any sexual misdemeanour is followed by instant arrest. At least that’s the idea – but mysteriously there’s a female “terrorist” running around, spreading the dirty word. She’s called Blue Snow, and she hides her identity by wearing knickers on her face. She also screams dirty jokes, throws porn pics and tries to give Japan an education in the birds and the bees, the cucumbers and the suspiciously-shaped cave entrances. (Seriously, look out for the cave.)
Blue Snow is clearly the protagonist, but our viewpoint character is Tanukichi, a schoolboy trying to escape his disgraceful background – his daddy was another smut terrorist, now in jail. As the show begins, Tanukichi is starting at a morally upstanding school and he’s crushing madly (but chastely and purely) on Anna, the angelic Student Council President. Another girl on the council, Ayame, offers to show Tanukichi the ropes… and then reveals she’s Blue Snow, and has the knickers to prove it. She’s disappointed Tanaukichi lacks his dad’s fighting spirit, but still ropes him into her terror campaigns, codenamed SOX.
And then… Smut happens. For the first few episodes, much of the shock is just in hearing the filth from Ayame’s lips, mostly about the size, use and receptacles of Tanukichi’s privates. Fear not, the series soon become physical and, well, fluid. But while one of the girl characters will end up as a berserk nympho – and we suspect you can work out who – it’s refreshing that other females are allowed to be scene-stealingly funny without soiling or removing their clothes. (Well, hardly ever.) With apologies to Ayame, perhaps the best Shimoneta character is Hyouka, a scientist obsessed with the mechanics of sex, utterly clinically. Show her a naughty tentacle, and she’d whip out a tape measure.
Where does Shimoneta come from? Ayame could supply a long and moist answer, but the series seems rooted in the fifty year-old smut strips of Go Nagai. Ah, good old Go Nagai. Between seminal – stop sniggering – robot manga and bloody icons like Devilman and Violence Jack, the artist also drew naughty comedies, starting with 1968’s Shameless School. Part of the first line-up in Shonen Jump, the strip featured a school of perverts, teachers and pupils alike, and brought down the opprobrium of Japan’s PTA. Heaven knows what Britain’s establishment would have made of it.
One of Nagai’s successors to Shameless School may be remembered by readers. His Kekko Kamen featured a naked female superhero wreaking havoc in another school of perverts. Again, it originated as a Shonen Jump strip (1974), though you’re likelier to know the brief but memorable video anime (1991-2) or the later live-action films. Shimoneta stands in the Kekko Kamen tradition, though it’s more tasteful to Western eyes simply by not having a scene of a girl being tied to a rotating swastika while a Nazi dominatrix throws knives at her. If you simply must know more, try 35 minutes into this clip, presented by the anime’s English translator.
Meanwhile, Shimoneta nicks its knicker-masks (there are hundreds of them by the end) from yet another Shonen Jump strip, Hentai Kamen (1992-3). For once this wasn’t by Go Nagai – it was by Keishu Ando, and became two live-action films by the 2010s. Meanwhile, Shimoneta’s scenario of an ultra-censorious world draws on Psycho-Pass and Fahrenheit 451, but also reflects the contentious 2010 revisions to Tokyo’s “Healthy Development of Youths” bill. The revisions were aimed at trying to curtail the kind of “harmful” manga which made Shameless School and Kekko Kamen innocuous. But for the record, the Mayor supporting the revisions also seemed to want fewer gay characters in manga – a demonstration of how censorship laws can have hidden agendas.
But really, Shimoneta owes more to Go Nagai’s dirty-joke book than to any contemporary politics. We don’t think the series is a revolutionary call to arms… though if you’re driven irresistibly to the cause, please remember: wash your knickers before wearing.