Class Reunion: Yesterday Once More (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, July 07, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, July 08, 2008
What They Say
After years of being apart, the Sakura Tennis Club come together for a reunion. Some things have changed over the years, some have not. Old friends pick up where they left off. Old passions are rekindled as long lost loves come face to face again, while new passions ignite. Not all of
these relationships will end happily, but the opportunity to come together again and reminisce might make it all worthwhile.
Reuniting during college, a group of high school friends find that passions and loves still exist and some they didn't know about.
Unlike almost all of the adult releases that Kitty Media puts out, this one didn't merit a dub which is unfortunate. The stereo mix encoded at 192kbps is standard fare for hentai so there wasn't much surprising about it. Dialogue is good and clean and generally center channel based. There's some use of the stereo channels for music and some of the moaning and grunting as they get creative once in awhile, but otherwise it's the usual routine. We didn't have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released to video back in 1997 and 1997, this four part OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The shows colors are from a rich vibrant palette that's well used here and manages to avoid problematic things like cross coloration but there is a fair bit of aliasing during the various panning sequences, something that goes back to its traditional animation origins. Class Reunion has a very appealing look to it and with a high bitrate throughout it avoids noisy backgrounds in general and is a very pleasing release outside of the aliasing issues.
Class Reunion has a decent looking cover to it, though it's a tease since it features Midori partially undressed and that's the most we see of her in the show. Damn Kitty for teasing me with green haired girl goodness. Midori in her bra while getting dressed with a surprised expression is certainly cute but I don't know that it works well to sell the show too much, not that there's much inside to really appeal to the hentai crowd. With a lot of white space and a really nicely done logo with the graduation hats flying, it appeals to me but it's not something that will grab others I suspect. The back cover is heavy on the pinks with a lot of shots from the show to show off the character animation and some of the mild hints of nudity as well. The summary covers the basics as best as it can without giving away much while the remainder is given over to the standard production credits and the technical grid which lists everything clearly. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.
With a bit of bouncy music to it, Class Reunion has a fairly standard menu design in that it takes the cover artwork and uses it to one side while the basic navigation is along the lower left below the logo. The colors are used the same here as the background from the cover and its reworked nicely to fit into this frame with the additional pieces. It's a bit brighter and a little more appealing looking in this form than on the cover but it's not one of the better pieces overall for a Kitty release. Submenus load very quickly and with nothing on the disc besides the show and trailers, it's easy to get around. Due to it being a monolingual release, player presets were basically useless.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The prequel to Class Reunion Again which was released initially by NuTech Entertainment and rescued by Adult Source Media, Class Reunion is a surprising release since it's a Pink Pineapple title and they've not been letting much out in the last few years. Kitty Media's acquisition of this release is quite welcome as it's good old school softcore hentai which focuses more on plot and emotion than sex. It's unfortunately not dubbed however which holds it back from being a bit more accessible to some who would enjoy a show that' about the characters but goes "a little bit further" than your standard TV show.
Seeing the series in reverse order is a bit odd, but you don't need to see the Class Reunion Again in order to enjoy this, and in fact you should see this first. The story is one that deals with a group of friends who have grown apart after high school and are now in college or getting on with their lives as they're all just around twenty years old. With it having been a bit of time, they've decided to get back together for a reunion at a hotel/mansion and reconnect with each other. But as could be expected from a group of friends like this, there are passions and interests underneath that have been kept hidden which are ready to surface. That surfacing is what's so much fun because the characters often feel more defined than many of those you see in a standard romantic comedy TV series.
Ostensibly, the series revolves primarily around Tatsuya, a generally good guy without any particularly stand out qualities who finds himself interested in quite a few women. His reason is because he's a guy. Well, there's more to it than that though, as he's looking for one former classmate who left him some daisies in his locker in high school during a period where he was horribly depressed with his tennis playing and unable to perform as he wanted. The daisies gave him the boost he needed to keep going at it and it left a strong impression on him, one that he's wanted to follow through for a couple of years now. There's the hope that it's one of the girls in this group he's with since he's close with most of them and wouldn't mind being something more to any of them.
Along with his musician friend Yosuke, they head off to the gathering and begin the journey of getting involved with most everyone from different directions. The gaggle of girls involved are quite a lot of fun all told, but not all of them get into things in a sexual way. Yosuke used to date Midori but the two of them broke up recently and Midori is now apparently off limits in general. She shows up to the event with Mizuho who is a bit weak physically and has a huge crush on Tatsuya. She's another one that keeps her clothes on entirely, not even providing the tease that Midori does at one point. Both are entirely cute girls however and though we don't get an in-depth look at them, they provide some light and friendly airs to them that helps to balance out the show. They feel dimensional in character which goes a long way.
The remaining women are a lot more fun however. The arrival of Makoto kicks things off as the former library assistant is now an up and coming model who carries herself slightly superior and has the fashion to back it up. That causes some problems with the other girls but she's intent on getting in the sack with Tatsuya since she's always loved him and proceeds to tell him rather quickly. Tatsuya's childhood friend in the slightly boyish Ayu is there as well and that brings in plenty of potential since she's had a crush on him for ages and is doing her best to try and woo him without hurting what they've had for so long. While those two pine for Tatsuya, there are other girls going for some of the other guys, such as the cute pink haired lass whose interested in another classmate and Shizuka, the fiery redhead who wants to go to America for her music but will shag Yosuke before she goes.
With a pretty varied cast, there is a lot of potential for where it all can go. Unlike adult shows of the last few years however, it's far more intent on telling a story first and the sex second. In fact, the sex can be considered incredibly tame and softcore as all you really ever see are some naked buttocks at times and breasts with nipples. The characters all get engaged in sexual activity, but it's often obscured lightly in some ways and isn't done in a full on explicit nature. That's not a bad thing since I feel that it serves the material well and it provides for some more engaging situations. The characters are searching for love and connections, not just another roll in the hay. The softer approach to the sex lets it have that feeling and it makes a stronger story overall.
The traditional animation also helps to give this a very different flavor as it's a bit softer in color and design. There's also the added benefit that I find more traditional animation to feel warmer and richer than a lot of modern shows since they exude a different kind of feeling. That only helps here as the character designs have more details, a different kind of fluidity to them, which makes them feel more real. Each of the girls is unique in their design and that plays out well here as they stand apart and have their own kind of dynamic. This goes for the guys as well as they aren't just cardboard cutout designs for the most part. But a lot of that comes back to the idea of story first and sex second so they have a richer feel in general.
I really liked Class Reunion and the kind of atmosphere it's trying to put out there. Some of it is a bit forced at times and it's a title that's hard to really classify as hentai considering how tame it is, but it's the kind of show that's wonderful for bringing in couples and those new to adult material. The emphasis on romance, feelings and connections is paramount here but it does tie strongly into the actual sex itself which is an expression of it. Perhaps it's coming into this after watching one of the most explicit shows out there, but Class Reunion is exactly the kind of show I wish I could see more of out there to help balance it all out. This is good stuff and it's definitely recommended to people trying to get their significant other to try out something.
Japanese 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: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Kitty Media
Running time: 120
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Class Reunion Again