The world has changed. Mankind now lives in Grand Cities above cloud level. No one knows what's happening on the ground or what abominations are being bred there, but it seems that monsters are infiltrating the humans' cities and attacking women. Only one person can stand against them: the superheroine Angel Blade.
I picked up this show because I'd heard it was a hentai parody of Cutey Honey and Kekko Kamen, which boggled my mind since those shows were both Go Nagai sex parodies in the first place. Well, we all make mistakes. Admittedly it's true that they steal from Go Nagai. You'll see Kekko Kamen's school setting, story structure and glowing-crotch attack, plus Cutey Honey's heart-shaped choker and transformation into a sword-wielding superheroine. There's even a theme song played whenever Angel Blade confronts the bad guy. It's a godawful techno atrocity that at first I hated with a passion, but in time my brain sprang a leak and it grew on me. There's even perhaps a touch of Devilman in the monster designs.
The problem is that word "hentai". Buttobi CPU was a charming show that barely qualified as pornography, but the word "hardcore" hardly begins to describe the horrors to be found in Angel Blade. I don't mind the freakshow element. There's fellatio, anal insertion, sexual torture, ball gags, urination, rape, dripping hot wax, boob fucks and of course multiple dick girls, by which I don't mean sloppy seconds. That's not so bad. Far more disturbing is the Rape Victim Who Finds Herself Enjoying It. It's bad enough that we as the audience are supposed to want to watch rape. Personally I'd classify even that much emotional disconnection in your sexual fantasy as psychopathic. However saying "they enjoy it really" is absolutely fucking vile and I'm going to point out that Japan isn't a particularly safe country for a lone woman to go wandering in the countryside.
Apparently rape is common in Japanese pornography, although it could have been worse. At least Angel Blade doesn't have paedophilia. The rape is also less offensive than it might have been, given that it's mostly SF silliness that wouldn't happen in the real world. This show has hardly any male characters, so it's chicks with dicks. Only one of these six episodes is built around a man raping a woman, although that one episode is enough to ensure that I don't want these discs in my collection.
Disturbingly though, the show's US licensees seem to have regarded that as the best episode. The three episodes of the first OVA series were released across two discs, under the titles Angel Blade and Angel Blade Returns. Guess which episode was deemed to warrant an entire disc all to itself?
But that's enough about the porn. What about the show?
It's pretty boring, unfortunately. Its problem is that sometimes it's a regular anime, albeit with more tight tops and panty shots, but then everything grinds to a halt for the sex scenes. I'd prefer to see an edited version of this show with less sex, not for the usual censorship reason but simply to make it less tedious.
Admittedly an edited version of the first two episodes does exist. It's on the Angel Blade Returns disc and it's an episode-length recap of the story so far to cover up the fact that you're buying an entire disc just for part three. Unfortunately they've edited out the non-sex bits, not to mention mysteriously deleting the Japanese audio track. The only good thing about that compilation episode is that it reminded me that some non-sex scenes had also deserved snipping. If you tried to edit a passable story out of all this raw footage, you might have enough for three episodes out of the original six.
Episode one introduces the cast, but they're hard to tell apart. They're all saucer-eyed anime girls with little to distinguish them beyond breast size (either huge or terrifying). I can only remember two of them offhand: (a) the bar owner who could hide children down her cleavage, and (b) the hyperactive one who's kinda fun, even if the first time we see her she's blathering on about wanting bigger boobs.
However there's also Angel Blade herself, though as a superhero she's rubbish. They didn't want to waste too much money on the non-porn scenes, so the sword fights and violence feel like an afterthought. Secondly (and more amusingly), she's always late. She rescues women from horrible fates... eventually. You can't rush these things. Maybe she needs her coffee? Maybe the traffic's bad? She'll always get there in the end, but never in time to prevent a good five minutes of deviant sex. It might have been funny to have Angel Blade show up and get chewed out by her gooey and ungrateful would-be rescuees. Whoops, bit late there, darling.
Her costume's unflattering too. You'd think it would be hard to go wrong with bare boobs, but no. However her nude transformation sequence is hilarious, since her civilian identity isn't particularly buxom and so we see her boobs and bum get bigger and bouncier. Amazingly she herself doesn't know that she's Angel Blade! There's an extraordinary moment at the end of part one where her heart-shaped choker is broken and her normal personality returns, whereupon she freaks to find herself dressed like a stripper and stacked like a hentai character.
Episode two is quite good. That bar owner flops 'em out and there's more action and story (not to mention lactation porn, simultaneous front and rear entry, etc.). However episode three has that rape scene I was talking about. It's loathsome, it's repellent and it's not even erotic. On a simple "dick in hand" level, it could only work if you turned off every brain function except the visual cortex. A brief consensual sex scene is far more effective despite being lesbian porn (of which I've never quite seen the point... it's a sex fantasy that isn't, unless your idea of a fantasy means "it couldn't involve you"). The reason is that there's emotional connection there.
This episode has things I'm happy to say I don't know the name for. What's the term for going on your knees and drinking a woman's golden shower? No, on second thoughts don't tell me. Another bit was actually disturbing, although maybe I just haven't seen enough "chicks with dicks" shows. However on the upside this episode also has a brief but decent fight scene, not to mention an entertaining sequence in which the concept of the superhero city chase is given the hentai treatment. Mmmm, that's an energy blast attack I hadn't seen before.
Surprisingly though, the violence is tame. They cut away from a killing, showing just a few little splashes of blood. Well, I suppose they didn't want to put off the children in their audience.
The sequel series, Angel Blade Punish, dumps Kekko Kamen and all things Go Nagai and strikes off on its own. Part one is boring, despite some nice horror ideas like clay she-monsters. Part two is actually quite good, with actual characters and a plot. Wonder of wonders, there's even a consensual sex scene! I also quite enjoyed part three, which taught me things I didn't know about spider-mutant tentacle molestation and How To Smuggle Important Objects (although I'm still unsure exactly what it was that she'd shoved up there). It even has actual gore shots! Violence! Blowing out brains! I approve.
The ending is sequel-hunting, though. Gee, I can hardly wait.
There's still rape in Angel Blade Punish, but with a weird semi-consensual element that makes it less offensive. By this point I'd started wondering if the villains didn't have some kind of mind control powers, which would have explained a lot. In fairness these OVAs apparently have far more story and character than usual for this level of hentai, but it's not nearly enough to make them worth watching. Softcore hentai like Buttobi CPU can be sweet and charming. Angel Blade has its moments, but more often it's just nasty.
The tragedy is that I think the basic idea (feminist Go Nagai heroines in a hardcore porn parody) has potential and I'd love to see it done properly some time. Unfortunately Angel Blade undermines the empowering message of Cutey Honey by being such an incompetent superhero, not to mention being the star of a porn show where women enjoy being raped. I've probably exploded a few heads by judging this hentai on feminist grounds, but it's perfectly possible to create hardcore porn that's not sinister misogynist trash. Something like Cherry Poptart is wholesome, entertaining and a gazillion times more worthwhile than this.
I'm sure that compared with similar hentai, Angel Blade is quite good and even mild. However that's a creepy, scary benchmark. Absolutely not recommended to anyone.