Girl Next Door (2001)
By: Michael McQueen on September 5, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Siren Visual (Australia). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English 2.0, Japanese 2.0. English Subtitles. 66 minutes
The Movie
Director: Sky High Media Starring: Steve Rassin, Ron Jeremy, Fifi Barcelona, Natalie Fiori, Michelle Thorn
Screenplay: Sky High Media Music: Sky High Media
Tagline: "Could you hold out?"
Country: Japan
Welcome to the tawdry world of hentai: Japanese animated hardcore pornography. If you are offended in anyway by any of those concepts then I strongly suggest you turn back now. Hentai is, to mildly understate, something of a unique taste; one that requires an equally unique viewer with particular preferences and a 'specialised' cinematic palate. I've stopped short of calling it an 'acquired' taste as one does not simply refine one's senses towards appreciating the subtleties, delicacies and nuances of hentai: if you dislike pornography, you will hate hentai; if you dislike anime, you will hate hentai; even if you enjoy pornography and anime you may still hate hentai. I will admit that even as one of Digital Retribution's hardened critics – whose gastronomic constitutions are reputed to be cast iron-clad and whose notions of 'good taste' are long-dead lumps, rotting in the morgue – I found myself a tad unsettled by all the animated humping, pumping and poking. I have a feeling that this to do with the idea that hentai is not real pornography – or at least, a traditional notion of it. The characters in hentai are not real people: they are denaturalised, disembodied ciphers for human lust, unemotional, one-dimensional and devoid of anything but animalistic primal urges. "Ah…" you say, "but isn't this the fundamental nature of all pornography, albeit even animated pornography?" Well, yes it is. However, the unsettling sensation in my stomach won't go away, even with that pre-text in mind.

I think that my confusion lies in the animation – not what is being depicted (although that is also unsettling), but rather the intrinsic notion of animated pornography, as a concept in and of itself. As a dedicated fan of anime, I frequently praise directors and animators for their spectacular visuals. This is because I recognise how much effort goes into producing anime: there is no camera involved, no improvisation, no instantaneous capturing of movement, or space or mise-en-scene: everything is painstakingly drawn from scratch. This puts the brilliant cinematography of, say, Ghost in the Shell into perspective, as one appreciates the painstaking time, effort and attention to detail that goes into crafting such sublime imagery. It also makes hentai as a concoction of porn and animation all the more disturbing. These people aren't real actors, these bedrooms aren't real places, and this sex isn't real sex: somebody – or a whole team of somebodies – crafted these scenarios from scratch, in sketch books, production houses and animation studios. As all this dawns on you, the effect is a little stomach churning. This isn't the singular vision of a solitary pervert, a moment of love, lust and anatomy captured in a brief instant, but a calculated collaborative effort realised through months of planning, production, storyboarding/pornoboarding and animation. David Michael Brown may have been right when he said 'it was only a matter of time', but my God – what an effort! This is not to suggest that hentai is an unpleasant viewing experience, but enjoyment is contingent that one can fully accept the premise that these are cartoon characters engaged in wanton sexcapades and deviant debauchery. Those of us brought up on the muss-free platonicism of Disney romance and the violent delights of Warner Bros. may feel a little apprehensive about stepping into this X-Rated cartoon network. Given that cartoons are predominantly associated with childhood innocence of this kind, hentai is already pushing the buttons of a western audience. If you can't bear to part from your childhood, or simply don't want to subject it to undue trauma, now is the time to click off…go on, then, off you go. You're still here? Good.

Girl Next Door was created by Sky High Media and is imported to Oz courtesy of the Siren Hentai Collection as part of their 'Vanilla Series'. The possibilities of anime mean that hentai can cater for any type of fetish on the planet (and some completely off it) but, in this case, all the sex is non-fetish, human-only, garden-variety humping; just like Grandma used to do. To correct a common misconception, not all henati features young girls being raped by a giant tentacled squid monster; that particular sub-category is called ero guro (erotic/grotesque) and is not characteristic of all hentai. Got it? Cool…moving right along.

Masahiko is a troubled teenager – troubled by lust, that is! The boy can't seem to get his mind off sex, but relief isn't coming up on the horizon any time soon. See, Masahiko carries a candle for a childhood memory; a girl who helped him when he scraped his knee (sounds like mummy issues to me). Till he is reunited with that girl, whose face and name he doesn't even remember, he's holding out in abstinence. Not that this helps his hormonal obsession with all things carnal; Masahiko regularly finds himself fantasising over his friends, his boss, his friend's sister (sometimes both of them at the same time)...he's like a lust-loaded rocket just waiting to explode with sexual frustration. It certainly doesn't help that everybody else is getting some, either! And when an attractive American girl, Fong Lee, moves into Masahiko's house to learn karate, all his fantasies and repressed desires threaten to boil over into a horny holocaust of naked school girls and amorous passion.

Like most anime, Girl Next Door oscillates between the humorous and the bizarre. The humour is absurd and the sex is…well, absurd. Animated sex is inoffensive and reasonably mechanical, but is unintentionally hilarious when coupled with a poor English dub that makes a mockery of dirty talk: "I want you to rape me like a madman!" "Wow! Can I really?" "More! More! You must pleasure me more!" Even without the aid of cross-cultural confusions and bad translation, Girl Next Door is still bizarre; witness the scene when Masahiko is being fellated by a girl who turns out to be a ghost! "With your help I have exorcised the evil that has been haunting me for such a long time!" exclaims the supernatural nymphet with man jam covering her face – the look on Masahiko's face is priceless!

Like most pornography, Girl Next Door isn't a lavish financed or elegantly crafted production. The animation is of an obviously cheap third-rate standard, and many scenes aren't animated at all: dialogue is simply dubbed over still frames, and many of the same sequences are repeated two to three times. This isn't much of an issue; the focus on storytelling is, as you might imagine, negligible in a porn film and it's obvious most of the attention has gone into creating arousing sex scenes. Girl Next Door also features a cameo voice appearance from the Sultan of Smut, Ron Jeremy! It's unlikely to suit everyone's tastes, but Girl Next Door is a fun and curious little film about lust, desire, restraint and…ghosts into oral sex, I suppose. Guaranteed to raise a smile, not to mention a few other things.
Presented in 4:3 non-anamorphic aspect ratio, the visual adornments on display are minimal. The picture quality is clear but the animation is third-rate and cheaply produced, a fact painfully underscored when sequences are repeated two to three times and most of the non-porn action consists of actors talking over still frames. The sex scenes are obviously the best thing on offer here, so I doubt anyone will lose any sleep over the rest of the story.
Workmanlike and unspectacular Dolby 2.0, with both Japanese and English options available. I recommend the English dub as the off-beat humour comes off much better when you don't have to focus on subtitles, which defeats the purpose of buying a porn film if you ask me.
Extra Features
An animated art gallery, just in case you missed anything the first time around.
The Verdict
So, there you have it: it's not for everybody, but DR readers would rarely identify themselves as 'regular' movie viewers. You're a special lot, and we love you. Now, go get yourself some juicy animated porn: you have nothing to lose but your inhibitions!
Movie Score
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