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Princess 69 -- The Dark Gymnastics

Copyright 2005 by Pat Powers

Some hentai are nasty, disgusting and depressing, like City of Sin. And some hentai are nasty, disgusting and fun, like Behind Closed Doors.

Princess 69 is nasty, disgusting and fun, in fact, it may be the most nasty, disgusting and fun hentai I have watched to date, and that's saying something!

The difference between the nasty and fun, and nasty and depressing, is mostly whether or not the bad guys win and how much fun we have getting to the end of the story. I hate it when the women get nonconsensually raped repeatedly then the bad guy walks off to a happy ending, perhaps killing the victim, perhaps not (see "City of Sin" and most of the Isaku series.)

However, a little comeuppance for the bad guy at the end of the story doesn't necessarily make a hentai watchable, just not depressing. There has to be something more ... some kind of interesting characterization or twisty plot or raunchy sex to make the hentai worth watching.

Princess 69 (The Dark Gymnastics) has some nasty and disgusting elements, but it does have some interesting characters whose behavior shows unusual psychological insight for a hentai (i.e., "any") which propels it along, and some really raunchy sexual bondage scenes as well, and the villain gets totally comeuppanced.

The villain, Tomomi, is not a happy camper, though by all appearances she should be. She's the apple of her father's eye, and he's the chief of police. For some reason, this gives her great clout with everyone she meets, as if police chief is a combination mafia boss and law enforcement agent ... sorta like a small-town sheriff in the South.

Tomomi is also the leader of the local college gymnastics team. (Now I'm making a point of saying it's a college team because in the US we associate gymnastics with very young girls. But this story is set in the Japanese equivalent of a college, so don't get weirded out on the age thing -- besides, there'll be plenty else to weird you out in this one.)

Tomomi's also a gorgeous redhead and very limber, like all the other gals on the gymnastics team.

The coach of the gymnastics team is a greasy-looking middle-aged scumbag named Nikusuke. Nikusuke is clearly and obviously a pathetic, overweight perv who's hot for his young gymnastic charges, a fact which they openly discuss in front of him, generally while calling him names.

Nikusuke has made a habit of collecting mementos of his charges, i.e., their panties and other things, for reasons that probably don't bear looking into. His habit costs him big time when the cops raid his apartment and find his stash of stolen panties and whatnot.

But Tomomi, as the daughter of the police chief, goes to Nikusuke and tells him she'll intercede with her father (whom she has wrapped around her little finger) to keep the bust under wraps -- meaning Nikusuke won't lose his job at the school and get publicly identified as a perv -- if he'll just help Tomomi with a little project of hers. (Kinda makes you think the raid was a set-up engineered by Tomomi. As developments will show, she's fully capable of such things.)

Tomomi's project is the Dark Gymnastics, a secret adjunct to the regular gymnastics team's workout that gives them abilities that will let them defeat their rivals.

The first person to be initiated into the Dark Gymnastics is Miku, a prototypical Sweet Young Thing who's always happy to make friends and get along with people, always willing to forgive a slight and never prone to slight others. Harmless, inoffensive and kinda needy in that she REALLY wants everyone, especially Tomomi, to like her.

Miku's invited to try out for the uber-secret Dark Gymnastics team. Miku, being a friendly and trusting sort, agrees, and winds up in the gym after hours, with Tomomi and Nikusuke. She discovers that training for the Dark Gymnastics is extremely rigorous in a new way, since it seems to consist entirely in being tied up naked in ways that tests her body's limberness while servicing Nikusuke both orally and otherly, while Tomomi watches. There are also tit presses and electric nipple shockers and clips and vibrators involved.

Like I said, rigorous.

Miku is quickly and easily converted to the Dark Gymnastics, as much of it seems to involve having Nikusuke's genitals in her mouth. Miku really seems to like having people's genitals in her mouth, especially Nikusuke's. In fact, shortly thereafter we see a scene of Miku and Nikusuke doing it in Nikusuke's apartment, clearly with her full consent. Miku is OK with the Dark Gymnastics. Miku is OK with anything that involves her having sex and gaining the approval of others in some way.

It's unclear whether the Dark Gymnastics turned her into a sex zombie, or merely provided an outlet for sexual wildness that was already in place (her voluntary blowjob for non-handsome Nikusuke would be an indicator in my book.) This is just one of the subtle bits of characterization that occur in the hentai -- Miku is absolutely the best choice for Tomomi's first vicarious rape victim (because that's essentially what's going on - Tomomi is raping her friends using Nikusuke as a surrogate) trusting, noncomplaining, the last person who would raise a stink over how she's treated.

Bondage, Fetish and Adult Toy Superstore !

But Tomomi is not satisfied with vicariously raping Miku. In fact, Tomomi is one hard to satisfy little princess. She's the character who really makes the whole series of 4 episodes interesting. Although she's a young girl, she shows every sign of being mentally an impotent old man, from back in the day when most impotence wasn't curable so a lot of older guys got really crabby about it (not that I blame them) and did all sorts of strange things to make up for the inability to get it up.

Tomomi never actually participates in sex, but she finds it necessary to force others to, very much against their will, while she watches. She gets turned on while she watches. And that makes her angry. And that makes her want to do more watching of more people. She's quite the twisted sister. Despite the fact that each new bit of nastiness only increases her levels of unhappiness, she is driven to find new recruits and subject them to ever more intense training methods (although it's all the same, really -- bondage, sex, body fluids and mild SM).

Mostly, the recruiting occurs by inviting the victim to a special late night session of Dark Gymnastics training. The gym team members, unaware of what really constitutes Dark Gymnastics, show up, where they're psychologically overpowered by Tomomi and physically overpowered by Nikusuke, so they wind up naked and tied up and being molested by Miku and Nikusuke, while Tomomi videotapes for blackmail purposes (and surely, for her own pleasure later on).

(Now, I have to admit, this whole "blackmail the victim" thing makes no sense to me, so when I cite it, please don't think I am supporting it or even that I understand it myself. It's a meme that shows up over and over again in hentai. The idea is, I think, once the bad guy has the good girl in her powers, he photographs or videotapes her being raped, bound, naked, playing dirty parcheesi or whatever, and she will be so shamed by the prospect of those images being made public (sent to the media, mailed to friends and family, posted to their favorite Internet sites) that they'll do ANYTHING to prevent it, including letting the bad guys do more -- a lot more -- of the very same things they were doing to them before. And worse.

I strongly suspect that this hentai meme does not reflect any ongoing reality in Japanese society, it's just a convenient meme for hentai that allows the bad guys to easily secure the compliance of their victims. It's kinda like the notion in US XXX porn that the ring of the pizza delivery guy has a Pavlovian effect on housewives, turning them into Horny Housewives who shed their clothes and go fishing for pizza delivery guy trouser snakes as soon as they can drag them into the house.)

In most hentai, Nikusuke would be the central motivating person in the Dark Gymnastics, as in the Isaku series, wherein a sleazy looking old scumbag janitor blackmails, kidnaps and otherwise forces attractive college girls to do his sexual bidding. Nikusuke even look like a slightly younger, much fatter version of Isaku. But Nikusuke is a clown, a hapless type who knows how to teach women gymnastics (he was a gymnast himself back before he grew the paunch) but not a heck of a lot else. Except that he knows he likes the thought of his hot students chewing his knob.

He is the perfect tool for Tomomi, who does not have the physical strength to overpower her classmates, but is so driven by frustrated lust that she easily turns Nikusuke and Miku into her slaves, whose main task is to help her get more slaves ... because she just can't get enough of whatever she's getting from watching her fellow gymnastics students get tied up and raped. A lot.

Then there's Miku. Throughout her "initiation" into the Dark Gymnastics, she kept asking Tomomi and Nikusuke if they are still friends. She is so desperate for their approval that she is willing to put up with all the stuff they put her through, for the sake of their "friendship." Miku is clearly someone who has some self-esteem issues.

Tomomi, being the aggressive freak that she is, recognized Miku's desperate need for affection as a weakness and immediately played on it, saying yes, she and Miku are still friends (even though the sight of Miku having an outside-the-gym consensual fuck with Nikusuke is his apartment makes Tomomi furious). At the same time, the fiend in Tomomi won't let her just be nice to Miku. She explains to Miku, "You're so naive. You think there's just one kind of friends. When really there are different kinds of friends."

(Like, the kind of friend you invite to parties and such vs. the kind of friend you tie up and hang naked from some rope and let a middle-aged perv molest. THOSE different kinds of friends.)

Miku is a classic emotionally needy woman, so needy that she lets people whose approval she wants do whatever sexual things they like to her -- in fact is GLAD for them to do those things to her -- so long as she gets their approval. At one point we hear Nikusuke giving Miku an award of 82 points for very good blowjob, and at another point Miku shows up at his place naked but for an apron, with all sorts of clamps and buzzers in place, wanting sex. Well, asking for sex, but really seeking Nikusuke's approval, both of which she gets.

Then there's the dynamic of the group rape. It's not JUST that everybody is frightened of Tomomi. The former victims then turn around and torment new victims. This is a VERY familiar phenomenon, as former victims change their "victim" status by victimizing newcomers. Every frat rat who's ever been through a hazing and then hazed new pledges knows EXACTLY what's going down in Princess 69, other than the gymnasts.

This is all fairly subtle stuff for a genre that routinely has as its protagonists guys who're not far from being psychopaths and female characters who turn into doormats once they get laid, no matter the circumstances under which they get laid. In fact, it's fairly subtle stuff for almost any genre.

ALSO FROM PAT POWERS
Problem is, the subtlety of the story does not match the subtlety of the characterization. Which gets us back to the plot - all this hell the gymnasts are going through in the Dark Gymnastics will make the team into super gymnasts, right? That's what Tomomi and Nikusuke claim, but I don't buy it. Miku demonstrates the moves that her participation in the Dark Gymnastics has allowed her to make, and they are AMAZING-ly feeble. It's nothing that a horny middle-aged housewife who doesn't work out at all couldn't do. I mean, I was expecting some gymnastics moves with raunchy elements added, but this was really ... pathetic.

It's not the point of the story anyway. I'm about to reveal the point of the story, so if you don't wanna know about the way it ends, stop reading now or you'll be all pissed at me, and I don't want that. I'll clue you in when the spoiler is over.

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OK, so eventually, we come to a scene where Tomomi has actually got six different people who don't want to have kinky sex, having kinky sex while she watches, including a couple who is engaged to be married .. and of course, they're not having sex with each other, though they are having sex, and kinky sex at that. And may I say, Tomomi's ideas on how a bride should wear a wedding dress would certainly liven up many a wedding, not to mention her idea of how the groom should be treated and, well, everything else.

Now, the problem with having half a dozen people forced to have sex for you at once, several of them under duress of just blackmail as opposed to physical bondage, and your two chief henchpersons (Nikusuke and Miku) also blackmail victims of sorts (OK, Miku is not that much of a victim, then again, she's not that much of a persecutor, she's just an emotionally needy, horny woman who likes to have sex) is that, rather than turn you on, they might just turn on you. Eight of them, one of you. Very poor odds. Apparently, it occurs to them at some point (not shown) that if they tie up Tomomi and videotape her while she's naked, bound and getting raped, they'll have something on HER and she'll no longer have power over THEM. Plus, they'll get to tie her up and rape her a lot. Also, Tomomi is the only one who hasn't been "initiated" into the Dark Gymnastics.

(I have to tell you, I would personally be extremely nervous about having a video of me raping the hell out of the bound and gagged daughter of a police chief sent to said chief. Even if he was extremely shamed by it, I have to suspect I'd be in for a few undeserved speeding tickets at the very least. In a place like L.A. or some rural towns, my extremely battered remains would be in for an unmarked grave.)

Well, this is a hentai, so it doesn't have to make sense. Tomomi tries to grab her cell phone so she can call Dear Old Dad and have him send some plainclothes goons in to straighten things up for her, but her erstwhile victims have thought about that and already have her phone in their possession. Tomomi tries to make a run for it but they've locked up the gym for their late-night training session, and now Tomomi's precaution against discovery becomes her undoing, and she's run down by the surprisingly spry Nikusuke (must be all the pussy he's been getting lately) and of course, tied up.

They do not strip Tomomi, they just cut convenient holes for her breasts and pussy and anus to pop out of, which they do. Then they suspend her, put the tit clamps, and nose hooks on her, put a vibrator up her rectum and electro-shock suction cups on her nipples (we know they're electro-shock because we see wires trailing from them). And most of all, they put one of those wire dental gags on her mouth ... the thing dentists use to hold a patient's mouth open while they're blitzed on laughing gas and whatnot.

Yes, Tomomi is in for a very special initiation, one that takes up the entire length of the last episode. By the end of it, she will have vigorously excreted almost every last body fluid the human body excretes under normal conditions: sweat, drool, tears, vaginal lubricant, vomit, blood, poop (yes, it's enema time again) and pee. No milk or earwax, but you can't have everything.

This may well not be to everyone's tastes. It certainly isn't to my tastes: vaginal lubricant, drool, sweat and tears are nice, but the rest are major turnoffs for me. I don't like having to fight being grossed out during sex scenes, and with hentai, this is a regular problem.

What's more, all of the initiatees do some major body fluid excreting during the initiation ceremony ... Tomomi adds nothing new to the mix. So if extraneous body fluids are a major problem for you, don't buy Princess 69, because they're there, in quantity.

And I know what you're thinking. If YOU don't like body fluids so much, and YOU don't like nonconsensual stuff, why do YOU profess to like Princess 69, Pat Powers?

Darned good question. Fortunately, there's a matching answer. One, Princess 69 is a cartoon, and I don't respond to what happens to cartoon characters with the same intensity that I respond to what happens to live actresses. I would not want to watch a live actress, however consenting and enthusiastic, spew up all the body fluids that Tomomi and the others do in Princess 69, or even pretend to do so. That would kill a live action film for me right there. But it's a lot easier to watch an animated drawing of someone barfing or pooping than to watch the real thing.

Frankly, I don't want to watch either real actresses or cartoon characters barf, bleed, pee or poop. So why am I willing to put up with the (literal) crap in Princess 69? Because there isn't all that much disgusting body fluid spewing relative to the rest of the hentai, and Princess 69 has about the best-developed bondage scenes I've ever encountered in a hentai. The creators of this hentai really know how to build the intensity of a bondage scene. They know how to make bondage imagery powerful via animation -- showing hands writhing in bonds, torsos rocking back and forth within the ropes, faces filled with emotion, eyes wide with excitement/fear, images that build in intensity as the scene progresses.

So many bondage scenes in hentai start with a striking still set-piece and then offer some mechanical looking back and forth motion repeated endlessly once the sex starts. This repetition is not a bad thing ... the basic motions involved in sex are repetitive, but in many hentai there's no strong development in the intensity of the scene, as there is in Princess 69. Mostly this is because the animation is so cheaply and unenthusiastically done.

Princess 69's animations are strikingly well drawn and are also imaginative in ways others are not. Frex, Princess 69 takes advantage of the reputed limberness of its gymnast characters to have them tied up in several very unusual poses while being molested. In one scene, Miku is tied with one leg suspended in the air above her, and one leg dangling down. Her hands are tied behind her back. A shoulder harness holds her torso up so that she's almost bent double. Then Nikusuke takes her from behind, pulling her hair and head back toward him so that her torso is almost parallel with his, while fucking her vigorously. With her tits literally in a wringer (i.e., a tit press) they do some major flopping as Nikusuke goes at her. It's visually very striking. It would be painful if a real person did it, but so would Wile E. Coyote's trick of diving off a thousand foot cliff and having a megaton rock land on him.

Yes, this is work for toons, my friend. And that's an important point here. Hentai, unlike live action porn, are drawings. Nobody gets hurt in a hentai. That adds to their appeal, and the appeal of hentai as challenging as Princess 69, as well.

I know, I know, somebody insane may look at a hentai and get some ideas. But I gotta tell you, crazy people have been getting ideas along these lines since way before there were mass media of any kind. I don't buy the notion that any kind of imagery or idea or presentation should be suppressed because some maniac will see it and try it. If we set psychotics as our standard for what we can portray in entertainment, even the fucking Hayes Code was way too liberal. Our entertainment would have to exist on the intellectual level of gruel to keep the crazies from going off. And even that wouldn't help (think "Middle Ages" and "dungeon".)

No, hentai are just fine the way they are, uncensored and taste-free. It's a very direct male expression of sexuality, and the fact that some don't like it is gonna have to be their problem.

That said, Princess 69 is NOT the anime to introduce someone who's unfamiliar with hentai to the genre. It's just too fluid-intensive, and nonconsensual. And as I said, some of the bondage is "only for toons." Far better to start with something like nice like "Darling," "Swallowtail Inn" or "Fencer of Minerva" -- all of which are perfectly fine hentai with plenty of sex and bondage, most of it consensual.

However, if you like bondage, and you're familiar with adult anime, you should DEFINITELY run right out IMMEDIATELY and get this one, because it is one hot hentai, bay-bee. In addition to everything else, the quality of the character design and the animation is topnotch. This is IMPORTANT in a hentai. Because they start out kinda unreal in the first place, it helps if they can get those little details right.

For example, I have seen badly animated hentai blowjobs where the essential action was portrayed by two parallel lines with a semicircle at one end. The parallel lines alternately shortened and lengthened to portray the "in-ness and out-ness" of the blowjob. It was extremely unconvincing, and not at all arousing. Especially since the face of the babe giving the blowjob never changed. Just those parallel lines. Even Clutch Cargo level animation would have been an improvement. It doesn't help that with this poor level of animation, the framing and composition of the scenes also tends to be badly thought out and dull.

Two of the best animated hentai it's been my pleasure to watch have been Viper GTS and Stepmother's Sin, each in its own way. Stepmother's Sin had a soft, almost pastel look to the colors, lots of dark purples and browns in the shadows building up to orange fleshtones that were well modeled with shadow. This had the effect of giving the body of the titular stepmother extra weight and gravity while still keeping her figure sexy. Seen from the viewpoint of an adolescent male, her body is not just ripe and womanly, but also formidable in some ways. Since the story is about an incestuous relationship between a stepmother and her son, this technique adds beautifully to the power of the characterization.

Viper GTS has a more traditional approach, with sharply defined lines and adroit shadowing that beautifully delineate everything from the exuberant curves of a demonesses' body to the subtle swelling of her labia. It has a certain brightness and clarity that goes well with the lighthearted supernatural adventure that is at the center of the story.

The animation in Princess 69 is brilliantly realized through the expressive power of its character designs and the individual scenes. The images convey the emotion and the raw, visceral power of the sex much more effectively than any other anime I've seen. In fact, I'm sure that it's the sheer graphic intensity of the animation in Princess 69, rather than any particular image or act (it's all been seen before in other hentai, and much worse besides) that has caused some reviewers to react very negatively toward it. It conveys the emotional power of Tomomi's little theater of nonconsensual rape, bondage and light SM much more powerfully than other hentai convey ... anything.