Abashiri Ikka (The Abashiri Family), directed by Takashi Watanabe. 4 20-minute episodes. May 21 to November 21, 1991.
Cartoonist Go Nagai burst upon the manga scene in the 1960s with several extremely popular series, all very risqué or violent by the standards of the times. PTAs all over Japan denounced him. This was good for publicity, but bad for getting his manga accepted for TV animation.
Then as now, the real money in manga was in getting a comic title turned into an animated TV series. At first glance, this was impossible for Nagai’s titles. They were much too violent, or too erotic, or too “anti-family values” for children’s/family TV. But Nagai, who had incorporated himself as Dynamic Pro, a manga-producing company, got together with Tōei Dōga, the biggest TV-animation producer, and they figured out a way. From 1972 for the rest of the decade, Nagai not only dominated TV animation with Mazinger Z, Devilman, Cutie Honey, Dororon Enma-kun, Getta Robo, and others, he established whole genres of animation and boys’ toys. Mazinger Z was the first Giant Robot with a teenage human pilot. Getta Robo was the first combining giant robot. Devilman and Enma-kun (the King of Hell’s juvenile nephew) were the first “good” demons.
But Nagai wasn’t able to do much in TV animation with his manga hits of the late 1960s that had established his reputation in the first place, Harenchi Gakuen (Shameless School) and Abashiri Ikka. Both were parodies that exaggerated and lampooned the PTA protests. Harenchi Gakuen was filmed as a series of live-action comedy movies and a TV drama. You could pitch live-action movies and TV as for adults, while TV animation in the 1960s & ‘70s was “obviously just for kids”. An animated Harenchi Gakuen didn’t appear until 1996, and then as a Pink Pineapple erotic OAV. By then The Abashiri Family had already been animated by Studio Pierrot, as an OAV in 1991.
More specifically, it was a series of four 20-minute OAVs, released as part of Studio Pierrot’s Anime V Comic Rentaman (this may explain the limited animation; Studio Pierrot usually does better) on May 21st, July 21st, September 21st, and November 21st, 1991. Later the four 20-minute episodes were combined into one 80-minute OAV. The 80-minute version was licensed in America by A.D. Vision on November 11th, 1998. Here’s a summary of what’s on screen:
Act 1: Explosion of Violence!! We Don’t Have Justice! The national police are all busy fighting violent street riots, with maximum loss of life. The Abashiri family picks this time to rob a bank. The family consists of father Daemon, hulking Naojiro, child explosives expert Kichiza, sneaky pervert Goemon, and teenager Kikunosuke. It’s a routine crime for them, until Daemon announces that it’s their last: the Abashiri family is to disband after this. The big secret that Daemon has kept for the last 16 years is that Kikunosuke is really a girl – or since this is her 16th birthday, finally a woman.
The bank robbery, which they consider incidental, is a police trap. The fat bank president taunts them; the tellers who are all ugly women produce guns and shoot at them; and the National Police have the bank surrounded. The Abashiris metaphorically yawn. 15 minutes of nonstop violence ensue. Kikunosuke’s signature martial-arts blow is the unstoppable Abashiri 8 God Attack! Fire God.
Act 2: Hell! Paradise School. Daemon wants the Abashiris to become a normal family. He’s entered Kikunosuke into an exclusive finishing school, St. Paradise School, under the name Reiko Shiratori. Kiku has gone disguised as a boy for 16 years and feels it’s too late to start wearing dresses and girl’s school uniforms, and learn to act feminine; but for her Dad, she’ll try.
St. Paradise High’s policy is that the outside world is so decadent that all students must live in the school. The Vice-Principal, who wears dark glasses like a mask, takes Kiku to where she will live with a roommate, Yukiko Shirane. He tells Kiku that the world is so dangerous that the students must be locked behind bars. That night, a student is executed by the sadistic teachers. Kiku, who has become an expert in death after so long as an Abashiri, senses the death.
The next morning, a special students’ meeting is called. Kiku oversleeps and is late for it. Professor Chidoro says that since Yukiko is her roommate, she will be punished by being beaten or raped. Kiku protects Yukiko by beating Chidoro, who calls himself Bull-killer, senseless. The other students are all horrified.
Act 3: Riot! A Storm in Paradise. Chidoro blusters that he’ll kill Kiku, but the Vice-Principal says that he’s disgraced himself by being beaten by a student and will have to die. A student tells Kiku that the school is really Murder 101. All the students will die, either by being used as targets, or forced to kill each other, or killed by the teachers. Chidoro tries to escape but he is killed by Prof. Hitokui. Kiku is summoned to the Room of Inner Reflection. The other students warn her not to go, but she’s confident that she is more than a match for them. But they defeat her with a poisoned blowdart from behind. The male teachers decide that she is worth too much as a sex toy to kill immediately. Thy bring her back unconscious to Yukiko, telling her to warn Kiku to be ready to die at any moment.
At the Abashiri’s home, Goemon is going crazy with lust for her.
Yukiko sneaks to the lavatory to get some wet towels to clean Kiku. She comes running back to find Kiku getting ready to fight. She begs Kiku not to go, and confesses her love for Kiku, but Kiku kills her. Kiku has recognized her as an imposter, disguised as Yukiko to get close enough to Kiku to kill her. But the disguised killer recognizes Kiku’s technique as the Abashiri 8 God Attack, which only Kikunosuke uses.
Kiku tries to find where the real Yukiko is, but nobody knows – or cares. The teachers are preparing to rape her before killing her, but they are shocked to learn that “Shiratori” is really Kikunosuke Abashiri. They vow to stop taking her lightly.
Kiku tries to rally the students into an army to fight the teachers, but they don’t listen because she is “only a woman” until the student Leader who is a Man tells them to.
Goemon races to St. Paradise High hoping to see Kiku nude.
St. Paradise’s Principal agrees to kill Kiku, but it’s too late. At dawn the next day, Kiku leads all the students against the teachers, with the Leader as her lieutenant.
Act 4: The Price of Betrayal. The Principal tells the teachers to kill all the students. The students break into the teachers’ offices and find a message challenging them to meet the teachers at the old buildings.
Daemon realizes Paradise School is a deathtrap. He and Naojiro race there to rescue Kiku.
Kiku tells the students to break up into small groups.
Goemon breaks into the school and finds Yukiko chained. He “perverts” her until he is captured by the teachers as an additional hostage.
Most of the student groups are killed by the teachers. Kiku’s group is attacked by Mademoiselle Honey, the only female teacher. She kills everyone except Kiku, who she attacks with wild sweet honey that makes Kiku more feminine and dissolves everything. Kiku uses the honey to dissolve Mademoiselle Honey.
The Vice Principal kills all the students in the Leaders’ group, but he reveals that he has secretly trained seven students to be loyal only to him. He kills the Vice Principal.
Daemon and Naojiro kill the teachers until the Principal orders them to stop. Daemon recognizes him as Danjuro Nabakuri, an old enemy with supernatural powers over his hairs. Daemon tells Nao not to fight him, but Nao does and is killed. (Except he’s a cyborg and is only blown apart.)
The Leader has taken over Yukiko and Goemon as his hostages. He intends to become Paradise School’s new Principal with his seven followers as his new teachers, while Daemon and Danjuro kill each other. Kiku can’t fight back while Yukiko and Goemon are hostages. Danjuro’s head distracts them long enough for Yukiko to run to Kiku, but Leader kills her and threatens Kiku. Leader prepares an inauguration feast to take over the school, but Kichiza appears and kills all te new teachers with his explosives. He leaves Leader to be killed by Kiku with her Abashiri 8 God Attack. Daemmon and Kiku go off alone, leaving Nao’s cyborg head calling them to reassemble him and Goemon calling to be untied.
In an epilogue a generation later, Daemon as a white-haired old man watches his grandson, also named Kikunosuke practice the 8 God Attack. Kiku appears as a demure mother. The boy asks why he and his mother have the same name. She and Daemon say that it’s a secret.
Post-Script: The Abashiri Family has become better-known in Japan as a 75-minute live-action movie (trailer below), released on November 21st, 2009.
Next week: Forgotten OAVs #56.