Imma Youjo: The Erotic Temptress Vol. #4 (of 5) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, December 13, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, November 27, 2007
What They Say
Maya.. Unspeakably beautiful, her body drives men insane with desire. To touch her sensuous curves is to experience true ecstasy..
In a land rife with rumors of witchcraft and evil, Count Pickingel has been charged with the duty of finding and exterminating the witches. With unchecked authority, he and his men move in on villages like a plague, raping women and killing anyone who gets in the way of their perverse "investigations." Only the beautiful and bold Count Mayatola stands in his way.. but Mayatola holds a precious secret that, if uncovered, could destroy them all.
Imma Youjo takes a trip into the past to the darker days of the European countryside when witches were burned at the stake. You think they'd find better things to do with stakes in hentai though.
The original release of this series was monolingual so this one gets a nice bump up by including a new English language adaptation. Both tracks are your basic stereo mixes encoded at 192 kbps so there isn't exactly a lot to work with here. Both tracks are decent sounding forward soundstage mixes which come across as clean and clear but we're not exactly talking much in terms of directionality and placement. The full sounding mix gets the job done and is free from dropouts and distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 1994, the transfer for this release is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Seeing this show back when it first came to DVD, it was like a revelation in comparison to the darker and murkier VHS copy I had. Now some seven years later, things aren't quite the same but this is still a solid release of material that's fairly old with a tiny budget. The bitrate for the forty-nine minute feature is routinely in the fours and fives with peaks going higher and overall it looks good but still has issues. The source material is what it is which means there's some noisy backgrounds at times and some cross coloration as well. These elements don't overwhelm the show thankfully but in combination with some speckling and a few more visible areas from the cel based animation itself, it feels out of place in comparison to so many digital shows put out these days.
Utilizing the same artwork as the original release, a few key changes have been made. The warning borders have been removed entirely which helps the overall layout and the edges in general have been darkened up to give it a more sinister feel. The design here really provides something a bit more classic looking and not quite as rough and raw as the previous versions. The heavy blacks around the edges and the logo go a long way towards making this look good. The back cover uses a lot of black space as well with a few shots mixed in around it and a simple summary in white text. The discs features are minimal and to my surprises there aren't any production credits to be found which leaves a big gap along the bottom. The technical grid gets everything else across clearly and cleanly. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.
The static menu design takes its cues from the cover art and brings it here with the addition of a navigation strip along the bottom along with some basic yet decent framing. Tied to a bit of music, the overall effect is decent enough as the character artwork looks nicely detailed here with some great colors. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is simple and easy to navigate. As seems to be the case with just about every Critical Mass title, the disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.
The extras for this first volume aren't all that surprising in that there isn't much here. The inclusion of the original US trailer and a preview for the fifth volume is pretty standard and we do get a new round of outtakes, which sadly only runs for ten seconds. There must not have been much flubbing going on with this one, or flubs that could actually be used..
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At the time that Imma Youjo came out on DVD, there wasn't all that much adult material out there though it was really starting to hit more regularly. Seven years later, well, you can see just how much makes it out there each month. One of the things that Critical Mass has been doing with the number of titles from years ago that they're bringing back is to create a new English language dub for it. With this series being one that never had a dub, it makes out quite good by this and gives the show a new life and a new audience.
Taking an even bigger leap in character design, Maya in this dark ages European setting is a slightly curly haired blonde. And she's also a he! Well, not really, but Maya's pretending to be a man in order to break a curse an old gypsy woman claims is on her. Her adopted father is an important count, close to death, and she's highly regarded in the military since she's managed to hide her gender so well for so long. This doesn't stop Maya(tola) from being called a hermaphrodite at least once though which is really amusing depending on how technical you want to get with the term.
Things are close to changing though when one of the more sadistic counts, Count Pickingel, is in a big witch hunt mode under the authority of the king. He's grabbing up as many women as he can from various villages, torturing them until they confess, and then burning them at the stake. He's also got the King's right hand woman alongside (and above, and beneath) him, helping his path stay clear.
Of course, Mayatola (male Maya) is eventually found out, especially since she was interfering with the plans for the witch hunts, and is classified as a witch herself for deceiving people for so long. Things take a few odd twists after this, but nothing too out of the ordinary. Originally, the design for Maya wasn't all that appealing but in this new viewing of it I don't find it as off-putting as I did then, largely due to the amount of boys-love material I've been exposed to I suspect. The bondage scenes themselves aren't bad, such as when Maya starts to really feel like a woman as the heat builds in her as she's wrapped in chains, but the torture scenes with the blood just don't work at all. The initial torture scenes aren't unexpected considering what was really done to witches, but it doesn't help to heighten the erotic mood here. While blood may work for some when it comes to their bedroom desires, it just doesn't work for me and that can be a turn off for many.
While I had enjoyed this show years ago when I first saw it and had a much more limited exposure to adult anime material, this new viewing left me a fair bit colder to the material. There is a certain charm to it, much as there is with a lot of Pink Pineapple's work from the mid nineties and earlier, but it doesn't hold up quite as well as some other older shows. The shift away from the traditional Japanese setting is quite welcome for the franchise, but the European setting is one that isn't exactly new either in general. The darker focus and continued supernatural elements fit in well with the previous entries in the series but the additional bloody torture moments and some fairly average bondage scenes simply doesn't elevate the show up any further than previous episodes. It's definitely good that this series is getting some new exposure due to its dub, and that's where all the costs are coming from, but this is one episode in the franchise that just didn't work well for me overall.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Outtakes
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver 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: C
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Critical Mass Video
Running time: 45
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Imma Youjo