Virgin Night (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, April 14, 2002
Release Date: Monday, June 25, 2001
What They Say
Yutaka Tanaka has got to be one of my favorite manga writers, if only for his wonderful Ai-Ren series. But long before he started writing Ai-Ren, he was best known as a writer of sweet, intimate erotic stories about first love. Virgin Night is the first anime to be based on his manga.
The disc only includes the original Japanese language production. This is a quiet show, and the audio is clear and conveys the emotions of the actors well. Some of the sound effects are over-loud, such as footsteps or the rustling of clothes, but this is likely intentional to convey the closeness and intimacy of the actions, and isn't the fault of the DVD production.
The video is good, though there is a small amount of cross-coloration during some of the early, outdoor scenes, and later, indoor scenes are very soft. In general, it's a very nice picture. However, late in the program some of the scenes are not properly framed, with the overscan area of the picture displaying the edges of the animation cels. Watching this on a regular television with normal overscan, you would never notice it, but on a higher-end system or on a PC, it stands out.
The packaging is a keep case with a seductive picture of Azumi on the front and the enticing words, "Tonight, we don't have to say, 'Good night...'" The back contains screenshots and a wealth of technical data about the production and the DVD. The insert is a small (3" x 4") booklet with the full text of the dialogue from the show and screen shots. This is a very nice inclusion, thought I would have prefered actual Japanese subtitles on the show.
Menus are simple and effective. The main menu uses the cover image and plays one of the piano themes from the show.
The only extra on this disc is a collection of six still images done in the style of the anime character design. Even though Tanaka himself did the character designs from the anime, I find his manga style to be more appealing.
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a name like "Virgin Night", you pretty much know what you're in for. The story is quite simple, about two people who decide to sleep with each other for the first time. This is a story of Azumi and Yuzuru who have been dating for a little while, and seem unsure of where their relationship should go next. Yuzuru wants for the relationship to become more intimate, though Azumi doesn't want to rush things. As the show starts, the two are alone and becoming uncomfortable around each other. After Yuzuru's attempts to take things to the next level with Azumi, he suggests they go out and rent a video to cool their hormones.
During this outing, we see exactly how uncomfortable the situation has become for the two of them. The hardly speak a word as they walk all the way out to the video store, both entirely lost in their own thoughts and feelings, and fully unable to express them to each other. The thing that is perhaps most impressive about this show is how it accurately portrays the real reason people often have sex, which is not love, so much as boredom and uncertainty of how to grow closer to another person.
On the way back to the house, Azumi tells Yuzuru that he doesn't have to go home this night. Awkwardly and cautiously, they try to express their fellings for each other, searching out some real emotion from the other. Hearts racing and bodies trembling they stumble awkwardly through the first steps toward their own sexuality. The show features long periods of silence, which will likely strike a viewer looking for a pornographic thrill as boring, but will probably remind older viewers of the innocence of their younger days. In all, it was a nice show, but kind of like the real thing, not really something that you would want to go through again. It captures some of the beautiful realism and sensitivity of Tanaka's manga writings, but this particular story lacks some of the humor and wit of his more recent works.
To say that the anime is based on the manga would be an understatement. The anime is lifted, in totality, from the manga, including exact dialogue and images. Now, this wouldn't normally be a problem, except that the producers have turned a 19 page short story into a 25 minute anime adaptation. This leaves the picture with a lot of idle time. Though I wouldn't have really wanted a faster pace for the story, some additional dialogue or other character interaction would have been welcomed. Or perhaps better yet, shorten the story and adapt another short story to fill the remaining running time.
Virgin Night a little too slow-moving of a show for some of the domestic distributors to consider picking up, so picking up the R2 might be the only way to see it, for now. Though it's a safe and enjoyable purchase, I would recommend anyone interested to pass on the DVD initially, and pick up the Virgin Night manga anthologies instead. The later stories offer more dramatic tension, emotion, and plot than this story. I sincerely hope that someone decides more of Yutaka Tanaka's works are worth animating. This was a good start, but there are many more, and better, stories to animate.
Japanese Language, Script Booklet, Image Gallery
Panasonic Panablack TV, Codefree Panasonic RP56 DVD player, Sony ProLogic receiver, Yamaha and Pioneer speakers, Monster cable. (Secondary equipment, Pioneer 105s DVD-ROM, ATi Rage Fury Pro, ViewSonic A90f, PowerDVD 3.0)
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 2 - Japan
Released By: Takeshobo
Running time: 30
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Virgin Night