Escalayer Vol. #1 (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, June 14, 2005



What They Say
Sayuka Kouenji is an Escalyer, a guardian android powered by a "Doki Doki Dynamo" that gives her super powers when she's turned on. But when lesbian sex with her able assistant Madoka stops doing the trick, Sayuka needs some help to save the world. To make matters worse, the forces of darkness have sent a new android to earth, and she's equipped with some "optional extras" attached. Enter Kyohei, a young student with no shortage of bedmates. Can Kyohei bring Sayuka to new heights of pleasure before her new enemy attacks?

The Review!
When the heroine Escalayer can't get her powers up to spec anymore, they bring in a studly young student to help prime the engine.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The episodes have a fairly standard stereo mix that's a bit more active than your average adult release since there's a good deal of action sequences and battles but it's still a fairly center channel oriented piece, especially when it comes to all the dialogue, grunting and groaning. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout though and we had no problems with either language track during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released in 2002, the transfer for this three part OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Like a lot of series done by Pink Pineapple for the Alicesoft line, the animation and overall quality here is really good with lots of vibrant colors, very few visible cheats in the animation and some very nicely fluid pieces that are relatively problem free. In watching these three episodes, the only area that really came up as a problem, and it varies on setups, is the dot crawl that's visible around characters hair that is more red in its nature than anything else. Sometimes this means Escalayer doesn't look so great but she looks fine as Sayuka. Even still, it's not a constant in each scene but if you're attuned to it you will see it here. Otherwise, this is a very good looking transfer that will likely please most fans of it.

Packaging:
Giving the Escalayer outfit the main shot on the cover, she's there with her outfit and hair all a flutter in the wind so we get a nice panty shot and a bit of cleavage but overall we have a very attractive and slickly colored design here that plays up the uniform and the fanservice just right and isn't an over the top adult cover but rather a nicely restrained one. There's a good level of detail to it and the artwork just catches the eye and is very appealing. The back cover has a small grid layout of various shots from the show that indicate plenty of lesbian action to be found and a cute shot of Sayuka, complete with glasses, in her school uniform. The summary covers the basics of the plot and fits in a decent amount with small print. The rest of the layout is given over to the usual production information and the always well received technical grid. No insert was included with this release.

Menu:
The main menu is a fairly standard piece with a static background that matches in color and tone the foreground characters which is Sayuka in her regular clothes as well as in her Escalayer outfit, which means a lot of white and pink to it. The menu is laid out nicely though navigation is slightly tricky since the cursor doesn't move as expected initially and there's a decent instrumental clip that plays along to the piece. The disc did correctly read our players' language presets though and played them accordingly.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Escalayer's been one of the more anticipated titles to come over and it's easy to see why after taking in the three episodes. Not only does it have plenty of really good sex scenes to it, it's wrapped up with an amusing plot and a fun premise that ties it all together nicely. These kinds of shows are almost always more enjoyable than most other kinds of adult series.

The premise behind this is fairly straightforward. It's pretty much a present day kind of show where we're initially following a student named Kyohei who is the stud of the school. He's got an angle on every woman and pretty much his dick in each of them as well but he's done it well enough that they're all oblivious to his being with someone else when he's not with them. The arrival of a new transfer student named Sayuka, the stereotypical bouncy bosom girl with glasses, has him interested in checking her out but when he's engaged in one sexual situation he sees a woman that looks very much like her suddenly flying by the window.

As it turns out, Sayuka is something of an android that's designed to fight the forces of evil which is presented in the form of a sinister group who have the usual goals of world domination and basically have the feeling of most magical girl series villains. The villains, who are mostly made up of women from what we can see, are continually thwarted by Sayuka in her hyper-powered form known as Escalayer. The forces of darkness are weak against this but they have some plans in motion that will reveal her weaknesses so they can exploit it.

Before that happens though, Kyohei tries to figure out what the deal is with Sayuka and that involves peeping in her place. What he finds there is that she lives with another woman, a very attractive young looking woman named Madoka. It's listening to them that he learns the truth about Sayuka that she's an android that's come to protect the planet against evil and that to use the Escalayer powers, she needs to be "charged up" with the Doki-Doki system. The way that happens is for her to be sexually excited and that's what Madoka's there for, her tool for charging up the android. Only that they've been at it for so long now that Madoka's efforts aren't charging up Sayuka so they've worked things so that Kyohei can overhear them.

Surprisingly, he's not up for at first until he realizes that he gets to get it on with Sayuka on a regular basis. The show kicks into a good deal of fun from here as he gets with her though not in the way he exactly wants each time and she finishes off by going off to fight the villains, who have their own version of the Doki-Doki system come into play as it progresses. The show mixes in a lot of the standard magical girl material throughout it with the designs, costumes and the over the top nature of the forces of darkness, but it pulls it off nicely and really just has fun with it.

The shows character designs are definitely appealing though there are enough of them that go with some fairly typical aspects. Sayuka's actually more fun to watch than her Escalayer form but that'll depend mostly on ones own interests in the designs. She gets some good scenes and the villains have some real fun with their own system. The sex scenes throughout overall are really well done and avoid any real cheap feeling moments or poor animation. Unfortunately, the best character in my mind, Madoka, only gets one really great scene at the end in a threesome but the payoff is definitely worth it. Madoka needs her own series quite frankly.

In Summary:
Escalayer is one of those top level high quality shows that puts a lot of the other things out there to shame and is a reminder that there can be some really fun and enjoyable quality adult series out there. This is the kind that has some good crossover appeal and knows how to play up its origins " both in the mainstream side and the adult side " to work for a much larger audience. With good looking animation, slick designs and some really fun sex, Escalayer is very much an easy recommendation to make.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Kitty Media
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Escalayer