Swallowtail Inn (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, October 12, 2004
What They Say
Yuriko is in love, but has a secret. She is quite talented at entertaining men. Trapped between a world of lies and a world of carnal pleasure for pay Yuriko must make a decision. Can she leave the world she's entrenched in for the sake of love?
Running an inn after her husband dies, Yuriko does whatever she has to in order to keep it alive.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its English language format. The show is like most other hentai series in that the bulk of it is made up of dialogue and the old moan and groan. The music and effects track is fairly light in this release as well with simple almost quiet instrumental pieces but there's also a good amount of ambient noises, such as birds and other nature sounds to it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2003, the two episodes for this series are presented in their original widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 but are not enhanced for anamorphic playback. With the widescreen style applied to it, combined with the traditional nature of the inn and the outfits of the character, the show takes on a really great feel to it where it feels like it's trying to be more than just another sex show with some fetish stuff but something a bit more. The mood is well enhanced by this and the shows animation really shines through here with its great color palette of greens and purples as well as the flesh tones. Colors look solid throughout, free of cross coloration and there's very little aliasing in general.
From the artwork on the cover of Yuriko in her kimono kneeling down, you will get a very good impression of what to expect from the show. The colors and general style of the character design and setting carry over into the show itself which is sometimes a rarity when it comes to hentai covers and the actual content. The back cover provides another good full sized shot of Yuriko in her garden and a small series of shots from the show itself. The summary is brief, but so is the premise, so the rest of the cover is filled out with the production and technical information. The technical information is sort of correct in general, but it lists the aspect ratio as 4:3. In a sense it is since it's not anamorphic, but the show is definitely letterboxed. The insert uses the front cover artwork and expands the logo section to include the chapters for the two episodes while the reverse side has the usual round of boxart advertisements of other already released shows.
The menu for this release has a really nice image of Yuriko in her kimono set against a lush green garden while the selections are lined down in a traditional style framed piece along the left. It's a really great looking menu since the artwork is so attractive but it's like other recent menus that have no music to it and just sort of sit there. Access times are nice and fast though and the disc is easy to navigate. The disc also correctly read our players language presets and played the show accordingly.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Swallowtail Inn is a title that has one of those very obvious plots that gets the show started and admittedly even a storyline throughout that's pretty basic and not all that different from some shows we've seen before, but it executes it well and with a sense of style to it that helps elevate it up above the norm. There's a real sense of atmosphere and mood to it that gives this two episode OVA series that extra push to make it feel more like it's trying to do something than just show off a series of sex scenes strung together.
Up until awhile ago, the Swallowtail Inn was one of the better inns in the area that had a real specialty to it in both service and its cuisine. Owned by a husband and wife team, it was one of those places where you just knew that you were someplace good. But bad luck hit and the husband died and took his incredible cooking talents with him, leaving his wife Yuriko and sister Fuyuka to mind the inn. Yuriko is left doing most of it due to the way Fuyuka has felt lately and the service and cuisine have simply gone downhill. The inn used to pack them in but now it's practically empty. The only way Yuriko keeps it afloat is by prostituting herself out once in awhile to a group of men with some serious money and she lets them do whatever they want to her so that she can entertain them.
This has kept the inn in a low state and unable to go up at all but at least it's still surviving. All of it changes though with the arrival of a young man who has seemingly lost his memory. Yuriko takes him in to help him get back on his feet and she gives him the name Kenji to go by until he can regain his memory. Kenji does lots of little things around the inn even though Yuriko tells him he doesn't have to, but he eventually stumbles across the session that Yuriko has with the group of men. With a range of emotions over the matter, he tells Yuriko what he saw and offers to help her become a better entertainer so that she can please them better. The two end up working closely together on just about everything in the inn as some of Kenji's talents slowly become apparent and with the help of Fuyuka, the three of them enter a strange and very sexually charged relationship where Kenji does some intense teaching on how to entertain and please men.
Swallowtail Inn is a surprisingly fun and erotic two episode piece, even with some of its more amusing moments such as using her crotch to serve sushi or the roulette session with her hanging from the ropes while the men spin her around and take their turns. There's a number of good straightforward sex scenes as well and both Yuriko and Fuyuka bring interesting moments to their scenes as both are quite into what they're doing and only want to do better. There is a larger plot going on behind much of this that starts to get revealed towards the end but it really just serves as an epilogue of sorts in a way but it does bring a good sense of closure to the show. This is show really surprised me with just how enjoyable in a positive manner it is to watch, even with some of the amusingly weird fetishes.
The animation for the show is quite good as well with some really attractive character designs for the women and the setting for the inn very much an attractive set piece. The widescreen mode for it really helped to give it a much greater sense of atmosphere and mood that builds upon the set design and the clothing worn by the characters. So much of it is just built towards this that it fits beautifully together. This is the kind of show where you don't wonder that the people are attracted to each other and it's easy to get into the scenes and enjoy them.
With little word about it, no extras and a minimal disc release in general, Swallowtail Inn is one of the best hentai releases I've seen in a few months I think. Though the plot is paper thin, the show really works well with its combined mood, setting and characters. There are some amusing little fetishes in there for some of the sex scenes and some of Kenji's training is comical, but it's a good show overall and one that I definitely recommend for couples looking for something new and those that like some good fun explicit stuff that isn't overly twisted.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Kitty Media
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Swallowtail Inn