2 x 1 Box Set (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Release Date: Wednesday, September 15, 2004



What They Say
2x1 Vol. 1 - The teacher asks Akiyama, a geeky, bespectacled boy, and Ieda, a popular jock, to visit Noriko's house because she's been absent from school for some time. Akiyama and Ieda find Noriko, a pretty girl, alone at home. They assume Noriko hasn't come to school because she has a bad cold, but to their surprise, it turns out that she has another type of illness -- she can't stop thinking about sex. Before Akiyama and Ieda realize what's happening, Noriko demands that they have threesome. This intimate act bonds them as friends.

Encouraged by Akiyama and Ieda, Noriko comes back to school the following week. She enjoys being back and participating in group activities. On the way back home from school, Ieda invites Noriko to his house, where Noriko is introduced to Miyuki, Ieda's sister. Alone in Ieda's room, Noriko asks that Ieda make love to her again. Miyuki, who's very attached to Ieda, hears them having sex.

Meanwhile, Akiyama is tormented. He can't get over the sex he had with Noriko. Masturbating, he pictures her in his mind. When Ieda has to go to a school athletic event, Noriko asks Akiyama to go home with her. Akiyama admits that he's a loner and doesn't like to talk much, and to his surprise, Noriko says she's the same type of person. They end up having sex at Noriko's place. Akiyama wonders what this all means. Isn't she in love with Ieda? But Noriko tells him that she cares about him just as much as she does Ieda. The story ends as Noriko suggests doing the threesome again.

2x1 Vol.2 - The episode begins with Miyuki upset about Ieda and Noriko. Miyuki is Ieda's sister, but they're not related by blood. Secretly in love with her brother, Miyuki asks Ieda what's going on. Hearing that Ieda likes Noriko, Miyuki visits Noriko and witnesses Noriko and Akiyama kissing. Growing even more upset, Miyuki demands that Noriko break up with Akiyama -- and that's when Noriko gets confused and ends up sexually harassing Miyuki.
The next day, Noriko tells Akiyama what happened. Apparently, Noriko told Ieda all about it too, and Ieda told her not to worry. But, Noriko feels terrible. Meanwhile, Miyuki is at home, thinking about Noriko and Ieda, and despite herself, she ends up masturbating, which makes her realize that she's just as horny as Noriko.

At school, the girls are now talking about Noriko, calling her a slut who dates three guys at once. Ieda and Akiyama stand up for Noriko and declare that they're just close friends and there's nothing wrong with that. At home, Ieda has an honest talk with Miyuki, and they make up as siblings.

The story ends with Ieda, Akiyama and Noriko continuing to be close friends, while Miyuki comes to accept the fact that she's Ieda's sister and will never be his lover.

The Review!
Originally released in the spring of 2003 from Anime 18 as Four Play, NuTech picks up the lost license and returns the series to its original title of 2x1.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. Being an older show and with so much of it being dialogue driven it's not surprising that the stereo mix here isn't all that strong or noteworthy. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and the music is about the only thing that really seems to bring any life to the mix. During regular playback we had no problems with dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally released in Japan back in 1998, the look and feel of this show is much closer to an 80's series than anything else with its simple character designs, basic animation and the overall look of it from the backgrounds to the clothing. The transfer itself looks decent enough with no problems in terms of cross coloration or aliasing but there is a fair amount of grain throughout the print. And with this not being a digital production, there aren't any problems with digital gradient painting with the colors either. The show isn't an eye-catcher by any stretch of the imagination but the transfer doesn't look bad considering the source materials.

Packaging:
Released on two discs inside the standard thin cardboard wrapper box, the package looks decent enough but the shows artwork really gives it something of a creep feel almost since they look so small. The back of the keepcases are simple in layout with a batch of pictures through the middle while a surprisingly lengthy plot summary is along the top half. The usual round of production information and the bloated features listing NuTech employs to give the illusion of things being there is along the bottom. As is standard with NuTech releases, no inserts are included in these releases. The thin cardboard box, which is little more than a wrapper really, uses artwork from the first keepcase cover. The back side provides both summaries and a number of the photograph pictures as well.

Menu:
The menu layout uses some parts of the character artwork from their respective covers and has some obscured animation clips of the sex scenes playing in the background to part of an instrumental piece from the show. The layout is standard material for these releases with no surprises at all. The access times are nice and fast and as usual our player preset languages are ignored.

Extras:
The only real extra here is a brief video art gallery for the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
NuTech's almost cookie-cutter like approach to dealing with hentai continues along well enough with this release, in that the way they lay out all the technical and packaging type of elements the same from release to release while only changing the artwork really or tweaking how the menu actually looks but still using the same concepts. It works in general and it's only really noticeable if you see the bulk of their catalog.

2 x 1, which was once known as Four Play here in the US, is a slightly older title that really feels much older than it is. The shows character designs are definitely young looking as well as simply looking small bodied. Not like super-deformed, but there's just something about them that's not quite the same as most other shows these days in terms of body design. When they're all naked it looks even a bit stranger since the women look overly endowed for their body proportions and the men just look weird in general. Design wise, this show definitely feels much like a lot of the shows did back in the 80's when they were of much lower quality in general.

But hey, let's not forget that plot can save the hentai day! The story for this little two part piece is almost a surprisingly pro-polyamory themed show. We're introduced to two male students named Ieda and Akiyama. Akiyama's the studios book worm type with glasses who doesn't really seem to know anyone else that well while Ieda is the good natured athletic jock kind of guy in the class who gets along with everyone. Both are asked to take some paperwork for the teacher to Noriko's house so she can be up to date on it. Noriko's been missing school since the start of this semester due to some illness and Ieda was nervous about going there by himself so he ended up having the teacher get Akiyama to go with him.

Upon reaching the rather luxurious residence of Noriko's, they find that she's not exactly ill in the traditional sense when they meet her and she takes them upstairs. She's not got a traditional sickness or anything but rather some kind of sexual illness that simply makes her want to have sex as much as possible. Before you know it, she's got both guys on the floor with her and they're going to town repeatedly. But instead of it being a wham bam kind of moment, the three end up seemingly bonding more by it and became a trio of sorts. This leads to Noriko coming back to school, being protected by both of them, going home with them separately and fooling around with them separately but also wanting to get back to that threesome kind of thing. Ieda's sister tries to get him to stop seeing her when she catches Noriko kissing Akiyama, but Ieda just goes on about how they're both ok with it and how they feel about her.

Of course, situations like that take all the tension and conflict out of things which is why you won't see too many real polyamory style hentai shows really show up. Where's the fun if the one you love can love you and someone else equally and without reservation or jealousy? 2 x 1 doesn't get deep into this concept but it plays with the willing and non-jealousy aspects of a threesome and the fun that ensues from it while also bringing in some of the dangerous elements of it in how others see the entire situation. Surely there's no message really being broadcast here as the goal is to make money off of cartoon characters having sex, but what it's really trying to say isn't all that clear.

In Summary:
2 x1 is one I missed when it first came out so in a way I'm glad I got to see it instead of it being relegated to the lost license trash heap, but it's not exactly a top tier title by any standards. With some pretty mediocre character designs, an 80's style feel to the entire production and some fairly bland and basic sex scenes, there's not a lot to get excited about here. It's a decently put together release but the content's just pretty average. And just like saying that to a guy, it's almost a death sentence to a hentai.


Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
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: C
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: C+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: NuTech Digital, Inc.
MSRP: 49.98
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: 2 x 1