Shusaku The Letch (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, February 05, 2008
What They Say
At a prestigious music academy, famous daughters of respectable families reside in the girls dormitory. But their lives are about to take a turn for the worse. The dormitory has a new manager, a letch named Shusaku. And he has plans for these girls — disgraceful, humiliating plans. The girls‘ screams echo throughout the dormitory halls as Shusaku forces the girls to submit to his fiendish fetishes. For Shusaku, breaking their will is only the beginning. Where it ends, one dares not dream.
It's back to the past as Kitty brings out another NuTech Entertainment license rescue to please its hardcore audience.
Retaining its original Japanese track as well as the original English language dub that was done, both tracks are presented in their original stereo form at 192kbps. Being as old as they are now and the kind of material it is, it's little surprise that they're pretty basic stereo pieces that are more center channel based than anything else. With it being dialogue and vocal driven outside of a few musical cues here and there, it serves the material well enough without getting the way or standing out. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 1999, the transfer for this three part OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. When these were originally released by NuTech Entertainment, it was one episode per volume with a decent bitrate to it but there were still issues with it. Those issues are still here though they feel less pronounced due to the changes in hardware and setups since then. The cross coloration issue in the source material is still strong but not as strong as it was back then, leading to a more appealing experience overall. The cross coloration really remains as the only issue and it is still a problem, but it doesn't detract quite so strongly. Colors in general look good with some very nice vibrant scenes here and there and a solid looking experience in general with only some mild noise in a few backgrounds. The upgrade to having all three episodes on one disc alone is worthwhile.
While the original release was a three disc set in a flimsy box, Kitty does it up right here with a dark and evil looking cover with lots of black. The logo, at an angle, provides a good balancing point as the top portion features a close-up of Kato's face and the ominous image of his shadowed form in a doorway. Below the logo is the attractive image of two of the girls in their uniforms in positions that hint at some fun without actually showing anything really naughty. The designs look much more up to date than they do in the show which certainly helps to sell it. The back cover continues to use a heavy amount of black for shadows which works well as the character artwork is bright and clean. One large character shot offsets the text and there are a few revealing pictures through the center as well. The summary covers the basics without much flourish and the remainder is given over to the production and technical information. This is a rare case where orange text actually works for a release. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for the release is pretty straightforward as it features the artwork from the cover of Kato and Kaori but zoomed in a bit and with more visible detail and color vibrancy. With a light bit of music to it that works well to set the ominous mood, the menu works well in covering what it needs to do while not showing anything really naughty. The menu navigation is simple and I like the addition of the play the movie now feature in the language selection section. With nothing else on the disc besides the show and a few trailers, it's easy to move around and is problem free. Access times are nice and fast but the disc defaulted to English language with sign/song subtitles.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Please note: Portions of this review were also published in our original review of Shusaku.'
Part of the original launch slate from NuTech Entertainment, the Shusaku series finally gets some of the treatment it deserves by coming out on just one disc. This happens after Kitty Media has released a few other Shusaku series in the last few years which in turn lets them finally get the entire brand under their label. For fans of the show, this is definitely a good thing. This series got its claim to fame when several famous voice actresses participated in the dubbing which really didn't add a whole lot to it but made it easy to market to adult stores. That may have helped the market some for awhile and got hentai into more stores but it didn't help the show itself. Honestly, if I wanted to hear Asia Carrera climax, I'd watch one of her movies.
Shusaku's a bit of an odd story, something of a sort that's not been released here in the past to my knowledge. Each disc contains one episode running about 27 minutes or so, and while there is something of a plot, and it does run through all three episodes, there's little resolution to it. But really, hentai like this isn't about the plot. The show takes place in a small all-girls school somewhere. It's a very strict school with lots of rules, such as white panties only. This particular rule seems to cause the most trouble, and it's understandable. Realistically, very few women wear only (if any) white panties. These young girls are trying to express their individuality, but find themselves being denied due to the school rules.
The school matron/teacher is the one that catches most of the girls, especially past curfew, and gives them grief over it. She's somewhat sympathetic at times, but she's a stickler for rules. And in the end, the rules are set by Kato Shusaku, the man in charge of the Shusaku Music Academy they all attend. And his rules are the law in essence. But like any good schoolmaster, Kato Shusaku has a secret. One he uses on each of the girls. One by one, he uses stealth photography and catches them doing things that they shouldn't be doing, mostly naughty in nature. He uses these instances to get the girls to succumb to his desires and then makes them turn one of their friends into him for more of the same, indicating he won't use the photographs. He also makes sure he videotapes each session, and uses that to coerce more from each of them, and shows the other girls the various sessions to his advantage. His big thrill though is to catch them all tinkling on tape.
Frankly, it's a fetish I just don't get. And even more frankly, I don't want to get. And now some seven years after seeing this originally, I still don't find it appealing in the slightest. I've been exposed to more of it in the years since but that just doesn't do anything for me.
What's surprising about the Shusaku series is that while it's very explicit verbally, in the characters telling each other how they feel and what they want, it's not all that explicit visually. You get the usual shots of the T&A unclothed, but none of the usual penetration stuff, things that are usually done "creatively" to avoid censoring. This show just doesn't have it, so it makes it a bit less offensive at times.
So how are the English voice actresses? Well, this is where part of my problem with this release comes into. There are no translated credits anywhere nor are there any English production credits anywhere. I've no idea who played what character in either language, or who did the work on the English production side. And while I'm certainly a fan of Asia Carerra, I have to admit I'm not good enough to pick her out of this production. But for the most part the dialogue was decent if a bit stilted at times to match mouth flaps, and the English language version isn't outrageously different from the Japanese. If anything, it's just a few bits dirtier than the subtitle script. But honestly, I'd love to know who played who in the English cast here so I can give proper kudos, as some did quite good.
Kitty's release of this series is definitely the best deal out there. When it first came out in 2001, you could get the singles for $30 a pop or the box set for $60. Now you can get it for $30 list and a fair bit cheaper through discounts and the like and still not take up anywhere near as much space as the original release. Kitty didn't change much here beyond dressing it up a bit in the packaging and menus and probably cleaning up the subtitles a bit here and there. Shusaku is still a show whose appeal is minimal for me and that hasn't changed over the years. The animation improves over the course of the three episodes and there are a fair number of girls who are given over to Kato and his devious plans. At this point Shusaku feels quaint after taking in the various sequels, especially the ones that only Kitty released. From a completionists standpoint, this is a no brainer especially if you like rewatching it. Avoiding the nasty disc swap alone merits an upgrade if you're a fan, as does the slightly improved video quality.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
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: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Kitty Media
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2