WARNING: Psychological triggers ahead.
WARNING: Mentions of rape ahead.
Mentions of incest ahead.
I DO NOT CONDONE THE RAPE OF ANYONE IN REAL LIFE.
Recently I discussed Gengoroh Tagame's "Arena", how it centered on the the fall and degradation of the main character, from karate master to sex pig. This is a recurring theme throughout Mr. Tagame's works, where the super-dominant male becomes completely sexually submissive to other dominant males, through force, threat of force, and/or deception. Some examples are when the straight rapist character is reborn as a beautiful gay butterfly, or when the ultimate BDSM top discovers and embraces that he is the ultimate BDSM bottom. Force is not used in all cases, where the character is willing, like the police commissioner who needs to have a strong orgasm that triggers his psychic powers. The cases where rape occurs when the character has been so inculcated with socially-constructed masculine values that he has lost touch with his sexuality, and he has shouldered the burden of being male and all that entails. Initially, the hero is punished for stubbornly clinging to that belief, and this punishment becomes an initial, brutal awakening, followed by continued brutal, or sometimes less brutal, liberation from the strict constraints and burdens of the old masculinity, and then embraces a new masculinity, where the hero becomes a completely open, indiscriminate receptacle.
The receptacle role is one traditionally reserved for female characters, but the male occupies it and reclaims it, returning to his sexually primal roots. In Mr. Tagame's stories, the feminine male characters and the female characters are in the background: some have already experienced subjugation and in some cases, liberation. This also applies to the awakened masochist character.
In a few of Mr. Tagame's stories, there is no liberation, but only punishment, and the punishment is usually permanent shame. This occurs in the political works, like where the Japanese soldier has been made into an American soldier's whore-- initially it's a tool to make him reach an epiphany about how his brother's(?) sister felt for whoring herself out to pay for his surgery, and for satisfying his own secret feelings for him (OO). But the American soldier doesn't stop and keeps on visiting the Japanese soldier, and the Japanese soldier becomes abject and pitiful When his brother's(?) sister sees him he snaps out of it and it's left open if he forgives his brother(?) or if he remains sullen, sad and angry for the rest of his life, or even if he kills his brother(?) for making him go through that.
Another one is where the son of an alleged Communist is made into common property for the town--this seems to indicate the mass hysteria rather than individual punishment, epiphany, or liberation.
And another one is where a fervent Japanese patriot who joins the volunteer army becomes the receptacle for the officers and soldiers.
None of the rapes in Mr. Tagame's stories result in two-sided romance--where there is romance, there was some kind of attraction to begin with. This is unlike in rapes in straight hentai, where the rape bewilderingly serves as an entry point to a traditional, fluffy romance. I mean, what? OO -_- Rather, the rape serves as an entry point for further sexual training to transform the male hero into a new type of hero, one who is scorned by society but has broken through the shackles of expected masculinity.
And finally, a word about animal references--- There seem to be three main animal characteristics in Mr. Tagame's works, the most often is dog, cow, and pig. When the other characters refer to the other character as a dog, he is raped and humiliated and physically punished, and sometimes plays along, but retains his resistance. In some cases flees his confinement, and other times is confined and humiliated permanently. These are the political stories where the sex does not look like liberation, but a living hell.
Cow is where the male character takes on the physical characteristics of a woman, such as developed breasts and giving birth. It is terrifying and incomprehensible to the character but the context is a holy birth where the god is giving birth to a cow.
When the character is called a pig or communicates (like with a tattoo on his stomach) that he is pig, he becomes the superhero submissive, able to receive practically the whole world in his mouth and/or butt--not the whole world, but you get the idea. oO Not every pig is happy at being a pig, however--for Ohashi, the main willing masochistic character of Pride, it's a long and brutal process before he is transformed into the perfect masochist sex slave. For Kazuki, the main character in "Army of Fallen Tears", as you might guess from the title, he is ashamed by his new role. This is a political-military story where there might not be a liberation--so it is more disturbing and sad. For the main character in The Masochist, he has already achieved sexual liberation, but pretends he's unwilling. And finally, as for Nobuaki in "The Arena", his mind gets broken, so we don't know if he's happy or not. But one thing is certain, that he has been presumably permanently liberated from the constraints of expected masculinity. They die as their old selves and are reborn into a new life where they are allowed to be as greedy as they want for sex, they don't have to be stoic or shoulder any ideals of masculinity, they can get taken by any man, anytime, anywhere, outside, tied up, chained up, in the park, on the street, in front of an audience of thousands of people: they become entirely without shame and what ordinary, real-life people can only dream of being.
Obviously, in real life, I DO NOT CONDONE RAPE OF ANYONE.
In Mr. Tagame's works, rape becomes more than a plot device. It becomes an initiation right into a nonstop, anarchistic orgy where a man's potential is fully realized. The man becomes an alternate superhero of an alternate masculinity. Far from being emasculated, the man takes his rightful place as a sexualized being.