This one needs warning labels: Borderline hentai! Outdated stereotypes! Nudity! Sex, mostly gay, some straight, some consensual, often not! Watch at your own risk! So it's an Okizari release.
Okama Hakusho (Okama Report) is a three-part OVA from 1991-1992. It's based on Yamamoto Hideo's manga of the same name about gender confusion and the gay scene in Japan. Because Hachimitsu Scans translated the manga completely, I thought it would be a lighthearted gender-bender. However, as the Hachimitsu team delicately phrased it, "There certainly are some controversial elements in this manga, and it may not be for everyone." Or to put it differently: when you're working on the only "comedy" from the author of Ichi the Killer, you've stepped in deep yogurt.
Okama Shinya is a second-year college student, longing for love but basically drifting through life. At a party, his friends get him sloshed, dress him in drag, and take pictures. To everyone's amazement, Shinya is surprisingly attractive as a girl - so attractive, in fact, that he falls in love with "her" when shown the pictures from the party. In order to meet "her", Shinya's friend (exploiter) Tanaka takes him to a gay bar, Maurice, and has a professional cross-dresser (okama), Yamazaki Tarou, make up Shinya's face and hair.
When Shinya realizes that his love is actually himself in drag, he is both appalled and intrigued. He goes to work at Maurice as an okama, calling himself "Catherine." He quickly becomes a favorite of the owner, Mama-rin, and the customers as well. While dressed as Catherine, he meets and falls in love with a first-year co-ed at his college named Miki, who is almost Catherine's twin.
The two become fast friends, but Shinya wants to be Miki's friend (and lover) as a man. However, Miki already has a boyfriend and is preparing to sleep with him for the first time. Can Catherine sabotage Miki's relationship without giving herself away? Can Shinya, as a guy, find a way to become Miki's new boyfriend? And can Catherine/Shinya fend off Tarou's increasingly aggressive advances?
This summary makes Okama Hakusho sound like a gender-confused romantic roundelay, but there are lots of problems with the show. It starts with the title's use of okama (pot), a Japanese derogatory term originally denoting the passive partner in anal sex, which became a derogatory term for cross-dressers; the closest English analog would be "faggot." (For a discussion about Japanese LGBT terms, see this article.) It continues with the portrayal of gay life in Japan. In Okama Hakusho, every gay man is an okama. Rather than the camp chic displayed by drag queens in the US, most of the okama in Okama Hakusho are portrayed as unattractive. They are also shown as sexual aggressors against unsuspecting or unwilling men: Tarou basically rapes Shinya/Catherine at one point. All this is played as "comedy," which only makes it worse. It's not only bad sexual politics, it's bad comedy too. There are more laughs in Stop!! Hibari-kun!, and a more sympathetic portrait of an okama in Okane ga nai!
dialog also presents issues. A lot of the language is either explicit or
highly suggestive, filled with slang terms and puns for body parts and
sex acts. The argot is dated and hard to parse. For example, how should okama be
translated? The show uses the term interchangeably for cross-dressers, transgender
women, and homosexual men. Three different
translators pulled their hair out about it, and editing it was no
easier. Ultimately, the term was left untranslated.
The controversy actually began with the manga itself. According to Wikipedia,
Its title is a parodic reference to "Gay Report", a report published by the LGBT rights group Japan Association for the Lesbian and Gay Movement (also known as OCCUR), noted as the first large-scale survey of gay life in Japan conducted by gay men. OCCUR protested Okama Report for containing what it argued were stereotypical and inaccurate depictions of LGBT people, particularly its failure to distinguish between gay male sexual orientation and transgender gender identity. In response, publisher Shogakukan ceased publishing collected tankoubon editions of the manga, discontinuing the release of the series after two volumes.
Perhaps that's why the OVA series simply stops, even though the manga had been completely serialized by the time episode 3 was produced.The voice cast is quite distinguished:
- Horikawa Ryou (Shinya) played Shutendou in Shuten Douji, Vegeta in Dragon Ball, Naoto in Slow Step, Anthony Brown in Candy Candy, Reinhard in LOGH, Tadao in Ghost Sweeper Mikami, Kai in Kizuna, and Andromeda in Saint Seiya. He also appeared in Chameleon, Hi-Speed Jecy, Lunn no Kaze, and the first two Sangokushi movies, all Orphan releases.
- Amano Yuri (Catherine) played the title role in The Legend of Snow White, Julia in Daddy Long Legs, Kiyone in the Tenchi Muyo franchise, and Moemi in Video Girl Ai. She appeared as Kuzunoha in Akuemon, Angie in Condition Green, Elthena in Eien no Filena, Kitagawa in Nozomi Witches, Noriko in Singles, and Yuko in St. Michaela Gakuen Hyouryuuki, as well as multiple roles in Fukuyama Gekijou, all Orphan releases.
- Morimura Asuka (Miki) was an AV actress. Other anime credits include Bouken Shite mo Ii Koro and Korogashi Ryouta.
- Futamata Issei (Kouji Tanaka) is best known for his roles as Godai Yuusaku in Maison Ikkoku, Akira (Chibi) in Urusei Yatsura, and Saburo in Sazae-san. He played the main character, Yoshio, in Dokushin Apartment Dokudami-sou and the psychopathic brother, Cross, in Hi-Speed Jecy, and he appeared in Fukuyama Gekijou, all Orphan releases.
- Ogata Kenichi (Inoue, president of a business) played the put-upon father in Maroko, Suzuki in Kigyou Senshi Yamazaki: Long Distance call, the crooked casino boss in Okane ga Nai!, the Hong Kong chef in Yuukan Club, Chichi's father in Chiisana Koi no Monogatari, and the Narrator/Lord of Kaga in Oedo wa Nemurenai!, all Orphan releases. He also played Smee in Peter Pan no Bouken and Gran Torino in Boku no Hero Academia. However, he's best known to me as the voice of Ranma 1/2's Sataome Gemna, whose alter ego - the grumpy panda - is my avatar on most anime forums.
- Shimada Bin (Lily, former pro wrestler) played Ken Nakajima in the You're Under Arrest franchise and numerous other roles, as well as played Konaki Jijii and Wally Wall in the most recent version of GeGeGe no Kitarou. He appeared in Dokushin Apartment Dokudami-sou, Fukyukayama Gekijou, Tomoe's Run, and Sangokushi, all Orphan releases.
- Gouri Daisuke (Mimi, former JSDF soldier) played Yamazaki Hiromi in Patlabor. He had numerous featured roles. He appeared in Condition Green, Bavi Stock I, Hashire Melos, Rain Boy, all three Sangokushi movies (Xiahou Dun), Submarine 707R, Tokimeki Tonight, Wolf Guy, Hi-Speed Jecy, Hidamari no Ki, and Kage, all Orphan releases.
- Yamada Eiko (Yamazaki Tarou), played Syril in Cool Cool Bye and Vee in Al Caral no Isan, both Orphan releases, and Tarou in the Captain Tsubasa franchise, as well as numerous other featured roles.
- Ouizumi Akira (Mama-rin) had prominent roles in Dame Oyaji and Bouken Shite mo Ii Koro.
- Kobayashi Kiyoshi (Keiko, a yakuza turned okama) is best known for playing Jigen in the Lupin the Third TV shows and specials since the inception of the franchise. He also played Sekai in Wild 7, an Orphan release.
- Meguro Kousuke (Banana) appeared in Kage and Izumo, both Orphan releases.
The director, Kogure Teruo, directed the slapstick gross-out OVA Mellow as well as several h-anime. There is no information on the scriptwriter.
The video quality is so-so. The source is used VHS tapes, and there are lots of artifacts. (The show was never released on laserdisc or digital media.) The first episode intersperses live-action scenery shots with the animated sequences, perhaps to convey the locale without the need to animate it.
Okama Hakusho, like many recent projects, has taken a long time. First, it took several years to find all three VHS tapes. Moho Kareshi translated the dialog initially, but it was another two years before Perevodilldo came on board and revised it substantially. I edited and typeset, as usual. The timer, song translator, QCs, and encoder refused to be associated with the result and are anonymous. Because the show includes nudity and sex, gay and straight, consensual and not, it's very NSFW. You've been warned, if the Okizari label was not a sufficient clue.
I'm not going to offer any apologies for Okama Hakusho. I'd like to believe it's a relic of another era, but Japanese anime is filled with gay-bashing to this day. You can get the series from the usual torrent site as well as IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.