Well, I thought that having seen Boku no Pico, I was all done with shotacon hentai, but there was one more to see, - one that seemed to be in almost every way the opposite of Boku no Pico. Where Pico tries to be achingly cute, innocent and even wholesome, Enzai is dirty, gritty and disturbing. Pico is plotless fluff that leads to boys having sex. Enzai is a murder mystery with several scenes of prison rape. And while I can say without hesitation that the two-episode OVA would have been far better without the sex scenes, it’s also true that I probably would never have heard of the title without them.
So it goes like this. In a clearly Les Miserables-influenced revolutionary France, a young gamin named Guys is arrested for shoplifting, but is then accused of murder. Convinced by a corrupt official to admit to the crime, he is locked up and brutally raped by inmates and authority figures alike. However, working with the friends he makes behind bars, who happen to have the specialities he needs to link the clues at the murder scene together, he regains hope. In his clever and handsome lawyer, he eventually finds his path to freedom and, just to cheapen everything else, his true gay love.
Although its production values are far less impressive than Pico’s, it is a much more satisfying watch, for while its animation and much of its art is sub-par, actually having a half-decent plot makes it a far more appealing prospect.
But then comes the necessary remembrance that the rape scenes exist only to titillate, not to inspire sympathy for Guys and the others who get violated, but to turn the audience on, that these same rape fantasies recur wherever there are fujoshi (female otaku, literally rotten women), be it in Harry Potter fanfics or FMA doujinshi. I can laugh at the silly, soft-focus, exaggerated childishness of Boku no Pico and its sequel. But I stop short of rape. I definitely stop short of resultant bleeding. ‘Squick’ is the fandom term – it repels me and starts being deeply unpleasant.
Enzai could have been a very good anime if, like the majority of straight H-Game adaptations, the sex had been taken out to be replaced by a focus on the story, lots of sexual tension and suggestiveness. Porn just makes everything cheap and tacky.
I suppose Boku no Pico works better overall, having set out to be nothing more than straightforward plotless porn. Enzai is a much higher concept and made up of far better ingredients, but disappointing in that it could have been so much more.
And frankly, while the idea of anime boys having sex may have some appeal in principle, as does that of anime girls doing the same, in execution it always becomes a vulgar and ugly display, and deeply silly. Hentai, even fringe stuff like shotacon or lolicon, is just not for me.
(originally written 30.8.07. Impressions of the visual novel the animation was based on here)