Sibling Secret (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, July 30, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, April 06, 2004



What They Say
The Hungry Bear is a restaurant where carnal appetites are satisfied to order. The waitress, Mika, has just uncovered the secret life of her late sister, a woman who would perform any sexual act, no matter how bizarre! But the secret?s all in the sauce, and Mika vows to service her clientele?s insatiable appetite for the exotic!

The Review!
Sibling Secret attempts to produce an art house dominance hentai show that has maids and more.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The show is pretty light on things like music during the actual show, instead giving the vocals and some of the effects pieces most of the usage of the stereo channels. It's fairly minimal with most of it feeling like it's center channel based. The dialogue is clean and clear throughout, though it's amusing to note that in the Japanese track, they self-censored some of the dialogue with bleeps which Anime 18 faithfully reproduced as *****'s in the subtitles. The English side of it carries the actual wording however. We didn't have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released in 2003 under the original title of Unbalance, the three episode OVA series looks great here, although a bit soft throughout a lot of it by design. The shows style is very art house in its intent meaning that there are a lot of multicolored backgrounds and other designs that reflect aspects of what's going on. The color palette in general is filled with lots of soft grays and blacks mixed with an almost overlit feeling to it. There's some good detail to be seen in some areas but with the style used there isn't a lot of it to be really focused on. The colors look great and the digital aspects of it avoid having problems in meshing with the character animation.

Packaging:
Showcasing some of the really attractive digital styled character designs, the front cover provides the two girls in their maid outfits with some interesting ways of showing some skin, set against a fairly oblique backdrop. The characters feature a lot of detail and some great shading with the colors used. Unfortunately there's the continual use of the catchy taglines, such as this one's "She's the twisted sister." Yeah, I'm wanting to associate it with bad 80's heavy metal bands. The back cover provides another character shot, fully clothed, with the same kind of background used as the front cover. The summary covers the basics of the show and there's the standard listing of extras and basic technical information. The reverse side of the cover has one full panel of nice black and white artwork of the lead female character while the other panel goes with the chapter listings, some actual bilingual cast listings and the production information for both sides of things.

Menu:
The menu layout is rather nicely done with a mix of slight animation to the menu itself and some clips playing behind the menu selections set to some rather light and upbeat music from the show. They layout is standard material for Anime 18 selections and access times are nice and fast on the easy to navigate menu. As seems to be standard, the disc did not read our players preset language selections and defaulted to just English language and no subtitles.

Extras:
The extras are some of the usual plus an unusual. The usual is the standard video art gallery and a couple of storyboard to animation pieces. The unusual is the "Dirty Talk Montage", which is where they basically make a music video to the show and use the English "dirty talk" bits as the song lyrics in rap form. While it feels like a strange version of Prince's "Batman" song, it's actually fairly amusing and it works well for what it is. This is a creative if strange little extra.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sibling Secret is something of an odd little duck when it comes to the hentai world. While the actual plot itself, or what you could loosely call a plot, isn't anything out of the ordinary, it's all draped in a visual world that's filled with vibrant colors, strange camera angles and an almost art house sense of direction to it. Taking a standard domination story and playing around with this is almost akin to some of the creative works of Andrew Blake in the live action porn over the years.

The show kicks things off by focusing on a young woman named Mika. She's so completely madly in love with Jun that she's willing to do anything and everything for him. A lot of her passion for him comes from the fact that she was in love with him when her sister, recently deceased, was his actual lover. Now that she's gone she wants to please him and to take over her role for him. Jun actually spends some amount of time internally fighting this idea and tries to dissuade her from it, but her persistence and continual expressions of desire to please him in any and every way possible finally overwhelms him and he introduces her to his world, complete with showing her exactly what her sister did.

Between the training that he offers her personally and the crowds of men that he leaves her with, Mika goes through a variety of sexual experiences that break her down more and more. While she thought she would only be pleasing Jun, she continues to do as he tells her since she knows that doing it will make him happy. Throughout the two episodes that we watch this going on, from moments of her wearing her uniform to others where she's got a few straps of red leather on with candle wax being dripped on her, the show does things in such an interesting art style that it makes the show feel like it's more than it should be. Such as large areas of black mixed with primary colors in sections and a wide variety of multicolored backgrounds bring the focus more on the characters and what they're saying, which is usually in the vein of "do me more!" than anything else. The show certainly isn't deep in the mental sense.

The last episode brings a different girl into play, Ritsuko, and her relationship with her father who sees her as a commodity. Getting involved with the same crowd, she finds herself under their sway and they use her to gain control over the restaurant where a lot of the acts have occurred over time. It's an interesting near-epilogue to the show as much of the shows premise seems to be finished in the second episode and the third one just feels like it was tacked on to milk things a bit more for the meager plot. The character animation for the show is quite good and the animation itself is better than average, especially since there is a real sense of style to it, but sometimes it does too much for its own good and it detracts from the actual acts themselves too much.

In Summary:
Sibling Secret looks to be one of those darker dominating shows but it carries enough style to it that it smoothes out the rough spots and provides a fairly entertaining piece of work. The actual sex scenes are mostly well done and while there is some minor scat included in it, it's on the weaker side of things compared to what's out there these days. In a way, the seemingly standalone episode at the end proves to be the best as it's not as filled with mental mindgames as the Mika episodes are. Plus, Ritsuko's a blonde. Yum.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Profanity Montage, Storyboards

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: Anime 18
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Sibling Secret