Vanilla Series: My Brother's Wife (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, April 28, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, May 30, 2006
What They Say
All his life, Takashi has been compared to his older brother, Satoshi. Satoshi is smarter. More athletic. More handsome. More successful. But despite the constant reminders that he's "not as good as his brother", Takashi was never jealous because Satoshi took him in after their parents died. But that was before Satoshi stole Miwa, the love of Takashi's life, and married her.
Miwa. Both incredibly beautiful and kind, she captured Takashi's heart long before she ever agreed to marry his brother. And now that she's Satoshi's wife, Takashi sees her every day. Sees her with him. Hears her having sex with him through the bedroom wall. And each day Takashi's jealousy towards his brother grows a little more.
But it seems the tables may turn when Takashi's voluptuous college professor discovers that Takashi scores in one way over his brother: his sexual prowess. Now with the right clothing, the right hairstyle, and lots and lots of hands-on sexual tutoring, she's going to turn Takashi into a ladies' man that even his brother will envy!
Takashi orchestrates an elaborate plan to get back at his older brother for years of issues that culminated in his marrying Takashi's one true love.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The two episodes have a pretty basic stereo mix that doesn't have much in the way of any real directionality other than the music using both channels as most of the dialogue is rather center channel based. This isn't a strenuous mix by any stretch of the imagination but it is solid and without and real problems. In listening to both tracks, we didn't note any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2005 and 2006, the transfer for this two part OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The source materials for this are in great shape and the transfer comes across very clean. Taking place in a standard real world setting, it's mostly interiors with bright colors but not too vibrant while things like clothes and skin tones come across very well. The two episodes are presented in their original format and breaks and are essentially problem free. This is a good looking print with no visible problems such as cross coloration or aliasing while colors maintain a very solid feel throughout.
Though the cover gives a strong bondage feel due to the obvious imagery of the woman in chains, it's actually fairly light on this with only one scene dedicated to it. The cover artwork is however quite attractive and detailed with the wedding dress and the overall design. The colors look great and it really draws you in with the overall layout of it and all the detail. The back cover has a number of shots from the show scattered around with red hearts drawn around certain parts of them that's cutely done. The summary and features are set on a note paper on top of all of it which has a good lengthy summary of the premise. The bottom has the usual small print details that I wish were a bit clearer in how they're listed but this is fairly typical for Critical Mass releases. No insert was included with this release.
The menu layout is nice and light which is a change from how the cover implies it will be as it has the artwork of her in the dress on the right side but the soft backgrounds and big red hearts across the rest of it eases the mood. One of the hearts has some clips playing in the middle of it while some of the music plays along. Similar to most other Critical Mass releases, you can't stop the program in the menu, forcing you to start the show and then stop it. Access times are nice and fast and the disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.
The only included extra is a series of pictures in an art gallery.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the more enduring themes in adult material in general is visited upon here with My Brother's Wife. The allure of the unavailable is always seemingly stronger than what you can get easily so it's little surprise that it makes for good fodder in the adult entertainment world. The anime versions typically have some interesting aspects to it, often playing up the brother/sister material when it comes to having parents marrying someone else with kids, but every now and then it puts out something slightly different.
The setting is fairly amusing in its standard nature. Takashi is your basic student (be it high school or college, take your pick) who is currently living with his older brother Satoshi. This has been going on since their parents died and Satoshi took him in. Satoshi has always been the apple of their parents eyes as he's just great at everything he does and it's bugged Satoshi but he was able to grin and bear it. What he wasn't able to deal with was when his brother married Miwa, a woman he was madly in love with himself but never really made a full play for. He gets reminded of this in an interesting fashion in that his childhood friend is Miwa's sister Misa, a woman who is in the same grade as he is but has such a holier than thou attitude about her being the hottest chick in school. To make matters even more complicated, his teacher at school used to date Satoshi and compares the two men together frequently.
It's little wonder that Takashi is sometimes frustrated and he's come up with a creative way of handling that. He ends up in a bet with Misa about who would score higher on their midterms and he managed to beat her out by a place, which means she's agreed to be his slave for a week. He's actually rather minimal in his taking advantage of her as he just gets her to show him her panties on a camera phone as well as her breasts later on. This is partially due to the fact that he manages to woo his teacher into bed and that leads to some amusing encounters and comparisons. His confidence at this leads to him making a play for Miwa and culminating his desires and long standing love for her while keeping it all secret from Satoshi.
Takashi's ability to juggle three women at the same time is impressive as it plays out because he manages for the most part to handle it one at a time and even sets about to break things off with one of them as the other parts get serious. Takashi doesn't walk around with a mean streak to him which becomes common in a lot of shows but he's definitely got a chip on his shoulder about things. But it was a nice change of pace for him to be not quite so openly evil about what he's doing. The sex scenes for the show are generally pretty good though nothing that just screams out greatness, though if they had actually done a lengthy scene with all three women it would have elevated things a bit more.
The character designs for the show are appealing in general though there's a bit of too much similarity between the three women. In a way, it's not surprising since two are sisters and the third is someone that Satoshi was attracted to himself so there's a particular taste that he may have which is being sated, but it means that personalities have to be the main difference between the girls. That area is fairly well covered as each of them approaches dealing with Takashi differently. Misa's confident but then unsure about how far Takashi will take things, Miwa is afraid of going through with everything but can't resist him while his teacher is interested in comparing how both of the guys handle her, at least for the short term. Each of them have different enough scenes and locations with him that it does at least present some good variety.
My Brother's Wife isn't a standout title but it's one that is for the most part well done and has an interesting and amusing enough of a plot at times to want to see how it all plays out. It keeps in the similar style of animation and design as most other Vanilla Series titles with its good looking but unexceptional animation, mostly fluid artwork and numerous sex scenes. The storyline for this with its culmination in the second episode is one that actually felt like it was going somewhere and you can tell that Takashi certainly enjoyed the journey to get there. This is a good spot of fun and an easy way to pass an hour, especially for those newly acquainted to adult anime or couples.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Toshiba HD-A1 Progressive Scan HD DVD player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, 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: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Critical Mass Video
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Vanilla Series Collection