Stepmother's Sin (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Luis Cruz
Review Date: Saturday, July 19, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, March 11, 2003



What They Say
In the tradition of the adult classic, Taboo!
A terrifying descent into madness and lust! Yusuke seduces his father’s fiancée, transforming her into a debased slave to his own twisted desires.

The Review!
As a young boy, Yusuke came home to find his mother having sex with another man. His parents soon divorced after; seeing his mother’s infidelity at a young age left Yusuke with hatred for not only his mother but for all women. Now, his father has remarried but is assigned to a distant office. Yusuke decides it is time to get his revenge on women through his new stepmother…

Stepmother’s Sin is a two episode mind-control hentai title that is surprisingly light on the fetish material and tries to have a moral to the story.

Audio:
For my primary viewing session, I listened to the Japanese audio; it is a simple stereo mix with everything coming from the center channel due to the nature of the content. Some spot-checking of the English language track showed that the English cast did a decent dubbing job. The dialogue is a bit stilted at times, but they do a decent job overall. There were no noticeable problems with either track providing for a good audio experience.

Video:
The video ends up being a mixed bag; the transfer itself is gorgeous, colorful, and free of any large problems. The subtitles are yellow and sized appropriately; most of the credits and a few bits of on-screen text are not subtitled, but the core audience is not viewing this title to read the signs.

Where the video falls flat is in the animation itself; the budget must have been tight as quite a number of tricks were used. Some sequences were re-used which is not surprising again because of the nature of the content. At times, the characters did not move fluidly; they moved more like cardboard cutouts being pushed around a background shot. Also, there were a few distracting spots of motion blur.

Rounding out the low points would be the use of some awful computer graphics. They were trying to be clever in some spots, but the graphics just felt tacked on as they did not blend in well with the rest of the scene. It generally served as nothing more than a distraction to the scene.

Packaging:
Presented in a clear keepcase, the cover is dual sided though you are not likely to reverse the cover. The front cover is simple and prominently features Misako and her considerable "talents". Yusuke’s face is muted and blends into the purple background. The title, a brief phrase, and the tastefully sized red box with the message “Warning: Absolutely not for Children” are the only other embellishments on the front. The outside wrapper also contained a yellow warning sticker indicating that you must be eighteen years or older to purchase the disc.

On the back cover is one shot from the show along with the standard boilerplate description and disc specs. Opening the case reveals the cover’s other side. On the inside, the cover is completely black and white. One side contains another full-size picture of Misako; the other side contains a chapter listing and credits for the production staff as well as for the Japanese and English voice actors.

Menu:
The menu is quite clever and features a curtain behind which an English language clip from the show is playing. The curtain is pulled back at certain points in the dialogue to give you a peek at the action. It was an amusing and clever touch that fit well with the show’s content.

Overall, the menus were straightforward allowing you to get setup and into the action. My only complaint was with the language selection menu. When you selected either "English" or "Japanese with subtitles", the movie started playing rather than allowing you to return to the main menu.

Extras:
The DVD is packed with extras including some DVD-ROM content. However, some of the content was duplicated. On both the DVD and DVD-ROM side, there was an image gallery containing shots from the show as well as some shots that were not present in the show. There was also a design sketch gallery for the characters and some of the settings.

The DVD-ROM also contained English language scripts for both episodes, a few hentai related links, a cast list for both the Japanese and English voice actors, and a list of production credits. None of the actors or staff had any biographical details, but most of them were probably working under an assumed name from the start.

Rounding out the extras on the DVD side were five trailers and a three-minute "Anime Artform" short. The short used animation from other Anime 18 titles to explain the fundamentals of anime and answer eternal questions such as “Why is their hair so weird?” and “Why do they have such big eyes?”. If someone were new to anime, it would be a half-decent introduction to the artform. As an experienced anime viewer, it was only mildly amusing.

The best extra contained only on the DVD side was the storyboard section; in this section, you could choose to play four different scenes. While the scene was playing, the storyboards were displayed in a strip to the left of the scene. A cursor indicated what storyboard scenes were still present in the final product and what were not.

Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Stepmother’s Sin is an entry in the mind-control genre that surprisingly focuses less on humiliating the subject through fetishes and more on the actual nature of the mind-control relationship. As much as it tries to be a morality play, the story still falls short and the lack of fetish scenes might make it difficult to please the mind-control crowd but will probably be engaging enough for the casual hentai fan.

The story starts off with Yusuke watching another man have sex with his mother. Much to his dismay, his mother is thoroughly enjoying it and appears to have no remorse about cheating on her husband. We flash forward to the present day, and Yusuke’s father has been transferred to a distant office. Before he left, he married a new wife on paper but not in ceremony; Yusuke now lives only with his stepmother Misako and her daughter Shiina from a previous marriage.

After a brief toy and oral tryst with his cousin Mio, he contemplates his feelings for his new stepmother and women in general. In his mind, they are all filthy nymphomaniacs; they may act innocent, but they will act like sluts if given the chance. This thought and hatred for his mother consumes him and drives him to exact revenge on womankind through his stepmother.

Unfortunately, Misako does little to prove Yusuke’s theory wrong as she quickly gives in to Yusuke’s devious seductions. The first episode ends as Yusuke begins to show his cruelty in their lovemaking. The second episode picks the action right back up with Yusuke coming up with more ways to humiliate his stepmother while gratifying his sexual urges.

From there, the story focuses solidly on how the relationship between Yusuke and Misako deepens into something both of them did not expect. There are plenty of sex scenes but very few fetish scenes. There was only one paddling scene and one urination scene; both were mercifully brief lasting barely a minute together.

Meanwhile, Shiina dreams of making love to her half-brother. Unfortunately, her dream comes partially true as Yusuke forcibly takes her in front of Misako, humiliating them both. What is more humiliating for Shiina is the fact that her mother ends up very aroused and begs Yusuke to take her. Shiina leaves for her grandfather’s place but ends up going willingly with three punks; she lies back as they decide who gets her first thinking only of her mother’s actions.

One last tryst with his cousin Mio ends with Mio making Yusuke think about his actions. As he couples later with Misako, he realizes that he still hates his biological mother but has come to love Misako. He begs her forgiveness for his actions but receives a shock. She tells him that she does not care about his apology; she has grown to crave the rough sex he provides to the point where she cannot live without it.

Yusuke runs off realizing that the true monster is not the woman Misako has turned into or women in general; instead, the true monster is himself, the creator of the beast Misako has become. These thoughts haunt him as he runs through a park eventually stumbling upon a couple making out. He assaults both of them and ends up crying on a park bench until the police arrest him.

When the police bring him home, they find Misako engaged in an orgy; she sees Yusuke and begs him to come satisfy her needs. The scene shifts to the outside of the home as a struggle is heard. The last things we hear are "Yusuke, no!" and then a single gunshot. It is left up to the viewer to decide which monster Yusuke has shot.

Normally, the mind control genre is a huge turnoff for me as it usually features a wide variety of humiliation through bondage, water sports, and other fetishes. However, it was surprising that this title managed to avoid this and concentrated on the actual mental nature of the control.

Yusuke believed the various sex acts in public and private would humiliate Misako and destroy her will. Quite the opposite happened though. Initially, Misako was slightly humiliated by Yusuke’s treatment, but Yusuke ended up finding a kindred spirit, someone who enjoyed the rough sex he liked to inflict on women. In the end, Yusuke was the one being controlled as Misako told Yusuke whatever he wanted to hear as long as it meant that he was satiating her desires.

The character of Shiina felt completely tacked on and could have been eliminated entirely. All viewers will probably cringe at the fact that Yusuke and Mio are gratifying each other sexually despite being cousins; just how close their branches are on the family tree is not stated, but the show did not need this aspect in it at all.

While the show is mediocre, some bonus points were given for trying to have a moral to the story and remaining nearly fetish free. Despite being mediocre, it is probably enough to satisfy the casual fan but will probably not satisfy the hard-core mind-control and fetish fans. For myself, it just was not my cup of cha.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Storyboards,Character Sketches

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Pioneer DVL-919, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and audio cable.



Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Anime 18
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 65
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Stepmother's Sin