Kowaremono (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, October 30, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A series of vignettes and then one strange long episode afterwards makes up the kind of quirky series called Kowaremono.

What They Say
Part 1 - Aki is an "Andmaid" (half android - half maid) created to disguise herself as an ordinary housekeeper. Her mission is to capture samples of high quality sperm from Kenichi, but she ends up with more than what she came for when she is kidnapped and altered. Will she end up as an android that was made just to be a slave doll ?

Part 2 - The erotic adventures of Aki continue. In part two, Aki's sperm collecting days are over, rather than being scrapped, she serves an eccentric professor as his maid, and she can now transform into a super-heroine. A plot more twisted than the last. How will her android heart react to finding love from a new master ?

The Review!
Audio:
Adult Source Media has gone with another good bilingual presentation which keeps this in track with what we originally got from NuTech Entertainment years ago. This release features a pair of basic stereo mixes encoded at 192kbps which serves the material well considering it’s little more than some dialogue and sex sounds. There’s a bit of action to the second half with the giant robots, but it’s obviously not anything that requires a serious sound mix. The dialogue comes across as clean and clear and it’s problem free throughout, leading to an aural experience worth enjoying.

Video:
The transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio and on one disc, which is a nice and welcome upgrade from the previous edition out there. The Adult Source Media release brings both 30 minute episodes to one disc with no major changes in the overall presentation of the show. The cross coloration issues we’d seen before are now pretty much gone and the aliasing is reduced in general as well, though enough of that could simply be differences in setup and decoding between 2002 and 2008. Kowaremono has some good vibrant colors to it and they look solid here without any break-up and hardly any noise at all. Having both on one disc is a definite plus and it’s a solid presentation overall.

Packaging:
If there’s a weak around to be found with this release, it’s the cover art. The NuTech edition wasn’t exactly a whole lot to write home about, but it was much more appealing and vibrant than this piece. The cover art is bascally a shot from the show during the Maid Fight sequence with Aki upside down as her opponent prepares to go down on her. The logo through the center doesn’t cover up anything and the actual character designs come across as rather unappealing, especially Aki’s opponent. The back cover is a bit better as it shows off a variety of things that happens in the show, including some green tentacle action, while the remainder is fleshed out with the story summaries and a rundown of the discs technical features. Interestingly, the reverse side cover is much better as the front piece has Aki in her maid outfit being manhandled by a trio of men in body suits as she enjoys it. The reverse side back cover has Aki in all sorts of costumes with some erotic expressions but no actual nudity. It’s rare that the less explicit cover is far more enjoyable.

Menu:
Adult Source Media usually has some decent menus and this one is no exception as it uses elements from the show well while combining them with rather basic and probably stock designs. The active animated background is a simple piece with digital numbers floating by, but on top of that you have monitors that extend into view to show off a brief bit of animation from the show. A really nice vibrant piece of Aki is along the right side as a still while the navigation is along the left. Submenus load quickly even with the transitional animations and it has a very nice flow to it overall, one that feels more active and engaging than the bulk of regular releases out there these days.

Extras:
The only extra included is a brief photo gallery piece which is made up of shots from the show itself.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kowaremono is actually Kowaremono II, the sequel to Slave Doll which was released previously by Kitty Media. The story of Kowaremono is a pretty varied one. At first, it feels like it’s going to be a series of tales that have little in common with each other, as we’re introduced to Aki, an AndMaid. AndMaids are the big things these days, and people buy lots of them. Aki’s one of the more rare and expensive models. One thing all models have in common is that they must do everything that their master tells them to do. Unfortunately for Aki, her master is one who likes to simply humiliate her, at least for the first two episodes. She’s sent through a train car where she has all sorts of things from other passengers happen to her and then to a private car where she’s instructed to wear a specific uniform and then have even more acts happen upon her.

The second episode takes things in a slightly different direction, as she’s told to go to an electronics district to buy some parts for herself, only to end up kidnapped. But it’s a kidnapping her master has orchestrated, as she’s getting all sorts of new things modified on her. She’s being entered into the Maid Fight underground contests, where she must battle it out with other AndMaids. And, being hentai, the battles are both physical and sexual.

All of this is tossed out the window apparently on the next full length episode, where she’s now the property of some mad scientist and he’s making plans to turn her into a superhero as well as giving her some powers. The links between the episodes are minimal to none for the most part, which means you basically have to take each short tale as it’s own mini story with little bearing on the other episodes. That is, of course, if you’re actually interested in the stories at all.

The sexual adventures of Aki are pretty much in the humiliating department, and she’s usually unsure of why she’s suffering through it other than that she must do it for her master. That gets old kind of quick, but I must admit I was rather intrigued by the whole variation on the catgirl outfit. It’ll certainly add a new spin when I see cosplayers. Kowaremono isn’t an recommendation unless you’re into the humiliation side of things. Aki has lots done to her, and for the most part it’s decent animation and designs, but nothing near the usual Pink Pineapple level..

In Summary:
Going back to this show after six years, like most shows, can be an interesting experience. As life goes on and you experience different things, going back to something that was less than appealing could be very different. Kowaremono still has some basic things that I didn’t care for. While the humiliation/domination aspect isn’t something I generally care for in anime, it’s not done all that well here. This is mostly problematic in the first episode because the stories are short and not enough time is given over to doing it right. When they shift to a full length story in the second episode, it plays out better as she’s really given a workout, but it’s still tame compared to many other shows and it has the offbeat superhero aspect added to it which sort of kills it. Kowaremono isn’t a standout title but at the same time it’s not as bad as I remember it being either. Adult Source Media gets a serious nod of appreciation however for rescuing another title from the Ken Groove mess with NuTech Entertainment and giving it a proper single disc release.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitle, French Subtitles, Photo Gallery

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: C+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C
Age Rating: 18 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Adult Source Media
MSRP: 24.95
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2