Celluloid Wunderkammer: Call Me Tonight – 1986 / Director: Tatsuya Okamoto

Rumi is the boss of a phone sex business. She is informed by one of her employees of a peculiar customer asking for help. Every time he masturbates or becomes aroused he transforms. Not in the per usual way men transform physically when this happens, but actually transforming into a tentacle creature straight out of Urotsukidōji. But this is not hentai. In fact he wants this to stop just for the fact his clothes are continually ruined each time, and Rumi, far from embarrassed with her sexuality like some anime heroines, is going to help him out. Allowing him to enjoy his sexuality without hulking out in a porn theatre and making things awkward. The female boss of a gang, after her older sister spies on the two with a camera, has her eye on the guy and fancies a night of illicitness, even against his will, to see if he’s a real beast or not.

Part of a series of short straight-to-video works by Pink Noise, this is a slight anime. Not a grand critique of hentai anime. It’s just as interesting in salacious hand drawn female nudity. But the only thing close to conventional tentacle porn is a film within the anime characters see, and the premise, while not allowed to grow because of its thirty minute length, sneaks in a tit bit of something far more mature than most anime. Its partially a peculiar sex comedy, part body horror sci-fi, part edgy anime, part softcore. Thirty minutes makes it impossible to expand it on the idea, but it is memorable. Significantly, while not allowed to be only a metaphor but expanded into actual sci-fi, it’s still quite a kick in the teeth to hentai that the timid, sexually hesitant male’s ability to become a tentacle beast is his distorted id. Of his inability to embrace his sexuality. He’s even unable to stop this from happening when Rumi shows him a sexy magazine. He’s also completely bland and over quiet for most of the work, who wouldn’t say boo to a goose, while the other reoccurring male character is dwarfed by his female love interest and is easily frightened. In contrast, the key female characters, despite the short length of the anime, are open, tough and/or open in their sexuality. Rumi enjoys her passions, able to go from being a high school student, as briefly mentioned, to this night time job she has. Even with a slight characterisation because of how long the anime is, she at least gets to be a strong minded character in presentation.

One of the key reasons, by now, I’ve been enamoured with anime, for all the crass garbage and artistically bland fan pleasing, is that even an obscure straight-to-video work like this, alright, way too short, can both have ideas or images you don’t see in what usually seen in animation, or rarely done in stories, and are memorable for intelligence or being unconventional. Hentai as we know of it now came to being in the early eighties when the straight-to-video market came into being too within the same decade. Alongside the potential for more time to make exquisite looking works, and experimentation, less restrictions allowed for animated pornography to be made, and since its animated, it unfortunately meant that some really questionable content could be done. And within this same decade, a year before the first animated adaptation of Urotsukidōji was being released, this openly mocks the notion of mean, sexual violence as titillation, calling a man who becomes a tentacle beast perverted, and between the lines, pathetic too because even being aroused by a woman leads to aggressive brutality. Yes, even when its having fun with the female nudity, and gets a bit more edgier as the climax is set up, it makes this metaphor of male bestiality a case of pathetic heterosexual masculinity lashing out at women. Just because they cannot simply enjoy their desires for the opposite sex, for women just as sexually voracious and charismatic, without some fear of femininity or guilt existing to ruin it. This is not only something with Japanese anime either, considering the animated “monster porn” being made in the West. Rather than run and embracing the wave of strong femininity, it’s like the usual male of now is like a frightened little cockroach. Even for such a slight anime work, it manages to find itself into this sort of idea.

On this site I actually reviewed a censored version of a tentacle porn hentai – Alien From The Darkness (1996) – and I brought up that, more bluntly than then, sexuality from my perspective is becoming somewhat fucked up, despite the apparent liberation of it from decades before I was born. In Call Me Tonight it is indeed screwed up to turn into a violent beast unless its agreed on by both parties. Even the trope of the nose bleed, used in anime and manga to represent sexual arousal (or a literal erection), is used brilliantly in a prolonged scene where the more blood there is the less funny it becomes and more disturbing it is for you and the characters. I wish that this sort of critical idea, even in a sex comedy like this, was more common in general stories let alone anime.

Tags: Anime, Celluloid Wunderkammer, Japan, Tatsuya Okamoto