Brute, fucking freak, wiener, dickhead…the list goes on. These are all names that are thrown at the protagonist of Ishida-sensei’s doujin THE PENISMAN. These terms are used in a derogatory fashion, yet they bear more meaning than this. As cruel as they may be, these names hold an undeniable literal weight.
(this review may contain light spoilers)
Generally speaking, blowing loads on people in public tends to be considered bad manners. Though I have never been so bold to try it out for myself, I am certain that human beings that have done so in real life have been met with undesirable consequences. In the case of Penisman though, one may considered being splooged on as a badge of honor. To be more specific, wearing Penisman’s semen on the face is by all means an illustration of genuine empathy and understanding between two entities. This musky empathy is the feeling which captains the heart and soul of Ishida’s titular hero.
Anyone that is familiar with Ishida-sensei would most likely be able to recognize THE PENISMAN as his offspring — I’d say sometime within the first 10-20 chapters. There are different reasons for me claiming this. For one, the underlying premise of the manga directly coincides with both that of Tokyo Ghoul and Choujin X. All three of these manga deal with external conflicts human beings have with different sentient species: ghouls, choujins (i.e. superhumans), etc. In the case of THE PENISMAN, it is very much the same. Out of no fault of their own, both heroes and monsters are the victims of human discrimination and prejudice.
To me, Penisman is the quintessential Ishida protagonist. Much in a similar vein as Kaneki, he is one who experiences tragedy, carrying the weight of his experiences with him everywhere he goes. In addition, he is an individual who is quite literally unable to communicate his innermost feelings. This inability to express himself is demonstrated through the blotched characters that are scribbled — to the point of being unreadable — in his speech bubbles throughout the course of the manga. No doubt, this is intentional.
Without delving too much into his anatomy and physiology, Penisman’s head is…well…shaped like the head of a penis. I don’t feel the need to elaborate on this, but it should be known (to anyone that happens to be curious) that the hero’s bodily functions don’t operate in the same way as the rest of the human race. Whenever he cries, he splooges. Whenever he splooges, he cries. Throughout the course of the manga, as Penisman faces off with a number of different enemies, coming in all shapes and forms, he inevitably blows his load on them. One may be tempted in the beginning stages that this is to assert dominance, but as the MC’s character becomes more obvious to the reader, it is clear that this is due to his pure heart that weeps for the sake of others.
It’s rare that I am ever very fond of the villains when I’m reading something. Regardless of how well-written the antagonist may be, I rarely gravitate toward them. This is not to say that I find myself unable to understand things from their perspective; rather, it’s usually the opposite. What I love about THE PENISMAN is that it is textbook Ishida — in the sense that it makes the reader keenly aware of the backstories of the different characters involved. The feels are real.
Analbeads Man, Pubey, Fleshlight Man, Cunniman, Lotion Lady, Bigchin, and Mr. Nipple are the tip of the iceberg, as they are merely a fraction of the foes that come in direct opposition with Penisman and sow conflict within the narrative. Being monsters, each of them has their own “fetish.” These fetishes are impulses that captivate them, existing within them by natural law. I appreciated the way that Ishida portrayed the monster race. Though I cannot put my finger on it exactly, but there is a line that can be flirted with but not crossed when it comes to painting a picture of a character’s backstory. The character development in this manga boggles the mind. I feel that there was a solid blend of glimpsing into a villain’s history, while also allowing the reader to rely on their own instincts in examining that particular character.
There are some things about the lore of THE PENISMAN that confuse me. For one thing, the exact nature of the heroes and monsters within the work are a little splotchy for me. It’s difficult to spot what makes one either a “monster” or a “hero.” The dichotomy between the two, the lines which distinguishes one from the other, is not real clear to me at times. It’s not an issue by any means, but it is something that wasn’t elaborated on that I happened to be curious about.
THE PENISMAN is a work where Ishida is allowed to blossom and demonstrate his strength. As bizarre as that claim may sound, it is true. It takes a special talent to make a compelling story of this caliber — especially when the protagonist is a literal dick head. When it comes to the art though, it is a bit of a different story. It’s been about 12 years since he first posting the comic online, so it comes as no surprise that the quality will not be up to par when it comes to his present-day work. People should keep this in mind when if they decide to give this a try. I do feel that, as one delves into the manga, they will be pleasantly surprised. With each chapter, it seems like the art becomes sharper. There are remnants of his early work; it’s a privilege to see the evolution of his illustrating and penmanship firsthand.
I never intend to spoil much, as I would hate to be the source of someone’s ruined experience. That being said, I am compelled to mention a couple things that greatly intrigued me in THE PENISMAN. There are a couple of characters that really bear resemblance with a number of Tokyo Ghoul characters. There a number of different panels where, if the art were tweaked slightly, it would be near indistinguishable from TG. The first traces of the kagune could be found as well. It would not be a stretch to state that this Ishida expounded on these things in THE PENISMAN later on for TG.
All things considered, this doujin is destined to be memed to no end once it picks up more traction on the site. Ishida-sensei is no stranger to comedy and pushing the envelope. From what little I can tell, being a fan and twitter follower of his, I am and always have been under the impression that he prefers to walk to the beat of his own drum. If nothing else, THE PENISMAN is evidence of this aspect of his personality.
Shitposting aside, this is worth reading merely for the sake of witnessing the development of a master of his craft. As humorous as it may be, it really is a joy to read due to the remnants of Ishida’s corpus found therein. I’m not sure if this is something he intended for a wider audience to see, but it sure is fun to read. If nothing else, it demonstrates that his talent and knack for manga has always been present.
This passes with flying colors. Brilliant. Highly recommended.
Originally posted this review on AniList
Not sure if anyone read this, but thanks if you did.