The main character and "anti-hero," The Rapeman, is a high school teacher by day and dispenses his surreal brand of "justice" at night under the business "Rapeman Services," which is co-run with his uncle, a former surgeon. He uses rape as his weapon. The business' motto is "Righting wrongs through penetration."
"You either die stiff or live long enough to see yourself go soft." - The Dark Knight
Upon reading Rapeman’s synopsis, I became quite amused. The notion of using rape as a weapon to bring about justice is a crazy one—it’s also quite a unique one. As a result, I expected this manga to be both innovative and absurd. Fortunately for this reader, both expectations were met.
Let’s start with the hero of this story: a pusillanimous teacher by day who becomes an enigmatic rapist by night. As unique as he may seem, he’s actually not that different from other superheroes. Consider some of the individuals he
encounters in his various cases. There’s a maniac who violates women using a strap-on, a woman who lures men with the intent of castrating them, and an arsonist who causes all sorts of trouble. These individuals are the closest thing this manga has to supervillains.
As you can probably guess, Rapeman doesn’t have any superpowers. His physical prowess is quite impressive though, allowing him to unarm/overpower his targets with ease. And he’s definitely not an idiot to say the least; otherwise he wouldn’t conduct so much reconnaissance or planning to avoid getting caught in the act. Like any other superhero, he also wears something to conceal his identity. His outfit, however, consists of a mask and regular clothes (this is one thing the anime adaptation does better).
The suit aside, there are some other similarities worth briefly mentioning. The protagonist has to deal with people impersonating his libidinous alter-ego. He has his own tools, one of which is handcuffs akin to Batman’s batarang. There’s even a photographer who tries to capture him on camera. The only thing missing is an origin story—the answer to the question of what causes someone to become a hero like this.
Although this hentai is arguably a parody of the superhero genre, I can’t see it appealing to a lot of people. If you’re someone who was repulsed rather than amused when you learned of its existence, then it’s definitely not for you. As for typical fans of hentai, they’re probably better off reading something else. Most of the pornographic scenes go straight to the sieging of the castle and the firing of the cannon; there’s not much foreplay involved. And while you won’t see much of the female reproductive organ during those scenes, you will see a lot of the hero’s weapon of choice (as well as the next door neighbor).
I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some readers who found Rapeman to be misogynistic. Those that feel that way obviously took the reading far too seriously, thus killing any chance of enjoyment. Said readers probably missed out on all of the humor as well. Despite being a humorist myself, I don’t really understand why some of the stuff I say amuses people. What I do understand, though, is why this manga is able to make people laugh. Everything the central character does is nothing short of bizarre—he’s got his own costume, he does all this undercover work, and he even names his techniques. It's funny because when you put all the pieces together, you get something that doesn’t resemble an average rapist at all.
I’ve touched on both the humor and originality, but neither serve as the highlight of this read; the main character takes that honor. If there’s anything I love to see in works of fiction, it’s the humanizing of criminals. So many works have shown not all people who commit bad deeds are necessarily bad themselves. In Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, for example, the most decent human being is a murderer.
Rapeman is not the devil of fornication you may think he is. There are so many individuals far more deserving of the adjective 'vile' than him: Ed Gein, Nero, and the Jews in the New Testament being a few of them. Despite ravishing so many, it’s very difficult to call this vigilante a cold, heartless bastard. This is because he feel remorse for his actions. He's not like Ted Bundy, a serial killer who felt no guilt towards his misdeeds. He’s a criminal that still has a shred of humanity within him. That alone is enough for me to justify calling him a decent human being.
Up to this point in the review, I’ve referred to the main character as a hero on several occasions. He doesn’t go on some grand adventure like Aeneas after the sacking of Troy. Nor does he perform some great feat like Sigurd’s slaying of the dragon Fafnir in the Saga of the Volsungs. So why do I still refer to him as a hero? Because I believe in Joseph Campbell’s definition of a hero: "A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." As far as I can tell, Rapeman doesn’t seem to care about pleasure, fun, or money. What he truly cares about is the welfare of the people he subdues. He manages to save/help so many people through one of the most questionable methods I’ve come across in fiction. Whether or not what he’s doing is right, however, is a philosophical issue I won’t be delving into.
Philosophy isn’t something you see much of in pornography, neither is the following. Whenever this high school teacher puts on the mask, he’s taking a huge risk. If the police caught him, there would be severe ramifications. Surprisingly, the law is the least of his worries; some of his targets are nothing short of deadly, resulting in quagmires that could easily cost the protagonist his life. Think of Breaking Bad or the Chimera Ant arc of Hunter × Hunter. Both shows are ones in which the characters are in genuine danger and had me thinking someone could die at any moment. While Rapeman doesn’t convey the aforementioned feeling to the same extent, it’s an area in which it’s definitely got the rest of pornography beat.
This might come as a surprise to you, but this manga has gotten several adaptations. You may’ve heard of the anime, but did you know there are more than seven films as well? I’ve viewed Rapeman in all three mediums, and the manga is hands down the one I got the most out of. The anime ended up being mediocre as a comedy, whereas the live-action film ended up being unsettling rather than amusing (and the boredom didn’t help in either case). Is the manga free of boring/unfunny/unsettling scenes? Of course not, but it definitely has less than the anime and films.
If nothing else, this hentai manages to show how interesting an unorthodox character can be. Rapeman is Kurt Gödel, Professor Moriarty, and Saint Augustine compounded into one man—an intelligent but righteous, sometimes villainous hero. Why do the police hunt him? Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A stiff knight.