An aspect of Japanese culture I am endlessly fascinated by is the strength of their folklore. From elaborate creation myths to stories of people having interactions with various Kamis, onis, and other divine Shinto spirits, the country has a wealth of material to fall back on when telling supernatural stories. Many of those exported from Japan, be they found in video games, manga, and anime, make connections to the land’s innate spiritualism that has a knack of sticking with you for a while. At least, that’s been my experience. I credit Monster Musume for getting me interested in stories that offer a slice of life from the point of view of humans living in a world where they coexist with otherworldly creatures, be they demons or anthropomorphized creatures of legend. Thanks to the aforementioned Monster Musume and the more recent Interspecies Reviewer, monster girls have captured our hearts and it is they that create the most drama in Seven Studio’s Shikkoku no Shaga.
Shikkoku no Shaga is a memorable hentai OVA because it combines exquisite and explicit hardcore sex scenes with a narrative that sinks its hooks deep. It scratches the itch associated with monster girl fever but also tells a dramatic story fueled by forbidden love. The hentai takes place in an alternate version of 12th century Japan where mankind lives alongside monsters girls. These creatures are considered a social taboo and are either ostracized or hunted down. One village lives in fear of a mysterious woman who lives in the hills and any man seeking her out are never seen again. The owner of an inn hides his secret shame from the villagers out of love for a daughter whose misshapen form demands sacrifice. Not all of these creatures live in hiding, some use their natural gifts to manipulate powerful men into doing their bidding in a campaign to gain power and gain influence. And at the center of all this is Ushiwara, a young man who happens to be the lost son of Genji (yes, that Genji) who saw his clan systematically wiped out by the lord of the land, a ruthless and power-hungry warlord who wants it all. Ushiwara is routinely hunted by creatures looking to end the Genji clan’s reign and when we meet him in the first episode of the series, he is nearly killed were it not for the intervention of Shaga, a warrior monk blessed with divine abilities. Escorting the boy home, Ushiwara’s mother begs Shaga to take him far away to Europe so that he can live in peace and not have to look over his shoulder or flinch at shadows. Shaga accepts this request and we follow the pair as they make the long trek out of Japan, stopping along the way to conduct a good deed.
Shikkoku no Shaga has got it all: romance, intrigue, action, and hot fucking. The only thing I found really frustrating is that the series is only three episodes long and offers a pretty definitive conclusion. The core story notion – two people wandering the country and encounter monsters and problems along the way – has so much potential and possibility that this could easily be a season-long show. It could easily spend twelve or so episodes fleshing out relationships, introducing new characters and complications, and build on the character of Yorihime, a treacherous antagonist who uses special powers to gain influence over powerful men, benign them to her will in service to her own master. You could easily spend twelve episodes covering Shaga’s and Ushiwara’s journey that’s already punctuated with great encounters and the budding romance between its two leads. It’s easy to snicker when someone talks about pornography having a good story because they really need one. But Shikkoku no Shaga is a totally different kind of hentai, one that’ll have you tuning in to the next episode to find out what happens next.
To be real though, the types of girls featured in this series is going to be the initial draw. Another reason why I want the series to be longer is to see encounters and interactions with more monster types than what is provided. Yeah, I’m being greedy but I’ve got a mighty need for slime girls, cowgirls, and maybe even some catgirls. Unlike the cutesy creatures featured in mainstream anime, Shikkoku no Shaga takes a different approach in its presentation of these women who, when you get right down to it, are depicted as monstrous beings. Yes, their human forms are enchanting and beautiful and sexy but their true forms are more than a little frightening. The first episode sets a great tone: a monk has lost his way in the forest and finds a young woman living in a humble shack in the middle of nowhere. Grateful for the shelter, the monk gives into his lust and begins to rape the poor girl. As the woman is pile-driven into next week, the clouds part to reveal a full moon and triggers the girl’s transformation into a hideous spider creature that bites the head off of her attacker. This episode is as fascinating as it is gruesome if only because it offered a unique take on how to please a spider-woman with a scene I’m probably not going to get out fo my head any time soon. The second episode is less of an extreme as the monster girl in question is half-human, half-bull who finds herself locked away from prying eyes lest the superstitious villagers find and sacrifice her. With the exception of the horny monk and Yorihime’s hallucinogenic manipulations, the sex scenes featured in the OVA’s three episodes are defined by the passionate love the characters feel for each other. There’s lots of forbidden love to go around sprinkled with a few dashes of tragedy as these men and women creatures want to spend their lives together but are heavily restricted by the unpredictability of their unique physiology and behavior. These women are dangerous but that doesn’t stop them from suffering the burden that comes with unfulfilled romantic love.
Shikkoku no Shaga’s animation and art quality are just as strong as its storytelling. Those familiar with the works of Seven Studio, whose credits include Suketto Sanjou, Sei Yariman Gakuen Enko Nikki, and Baku Ane Otouto Shibocchau zo! will instantly recognize their unique depiction of sex as something energic, wild, and often uncontrollable. And this OVA is no different. The animation is clean and with many frames that give each sex scene a lot of energy, life, and extravagance. The women are gorgeous, though no more than Kurenai, the innkeeper’s daughter, who not only looks good having sex but you can tell the experience is incredibly meaningful through her explosive release of emotion and passion. Her boobs are pretty hot too, just sayin’. Seven Studio ensures that not one body part is left untouched, both human and monster, as the characters exert themselves with pleasure while fondling, suckling, licking and rubbing all of the popular and sensitive body parts. The OVA is fantastic, not just because of the hot sex and crazy cute girls (some of which actually blur the line between sexy and terrifying), but because the series marries explicit, hardcore sex with a legitimately compelling story.
There’s not much else I can say about Shikkoku no Shaga other than it is must-see porn TV. It marries hardcore, splashy sex with a story that is hard to ignore. My chief grievance is that the story ends far too soon (despite wrapping up nicely) and I wasn’t ready to leave this world, its characters, and delicious monster girls behind. Shikkoku no Shaga touches hearts as heavily as it encourages you to touch yourself. Don’t miss it.