Countdown Conjoined - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Critical Mass Video
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Countdown Series

Countdown Conjoined

By Chris Beveridge     March 16, 2007
Release Date: February 27, 2007


Countdown Conjoined
© Critical Mass Video


What They Say
Alimony Hunter: When sexy, young Jun runs meets the busty Chizuru, she sees an opportunity for one hot night! Plus Chizuru's got a cute stepson that may serve as a dessert for her main course!


Seek: When rescuing a princess doesn't provide a heroic adventurer with the stimulation he'd hoped for, he looks to find it in the princess herself! However, this little lady might be more stimulation than he'd bargained for...


Virgin Road: Young, blushing bride Akemi is busily preparing for her impending wedding, but she needs the proper send-off... and who better to do that than Jun!


A Play on History, Hooligan Boy: When a madman begins to abduct the city's luscious ladies, Mai and her gay robotic partner Kuma are there to put a stop to it! But can they resist the lure of the madman's incredibly tempting technologically-enhanced body?

The Review!
The hermaphrodites are back in a newly repackaged release with a first-time dub that allows newbies to be exposed to vintage hentai.

Audio:
Unlike the original release, Countdown Conjoined has received a brand new English language adaptation to complement the original Japanese dialogue. Both tracks are presented in a standard stereo mix but it's pretty much a full on center feeling. Outside of some bits of music that are kept to either the left or right, there isn't a lot to focus on here in terms of directionality. The audio tracks do serve the material well though as they don't require any sort of heavy mix to them. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout both of them and we didn't have any troubles with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released back in 1995, the transfer for these two OVAs is essentially the same as we saw with the SoftCel release. For a traditional animation show, it turned out pretty nice and avoids the big stumbling block of cross coloration by having practically none. There's some aliasing during some panning sequences as well there being some small amount of grain throughout the program. There is a fair bit of noise throughout it but considering the show, quality of materials and other factors it doesn't impact it much. Colors look good without any over saturation or bleeding. The dark blue skies and other darkened areas maintain a non-blocky look throughout.

Packaging:
Akemi takes the front cover once again with this show as she's in a very skimpy top with nothing else on as the wind blows her hair. A background image of another woman from the show adds a bit of mystery and allure that works out nicely. The main character is the real draw though and she looks good here with the way the colors look and the way the clothes basically fall off of her. The back cover uses the character artwork from the original release while laying around it a number of shots from the various shows. The summary covers the basics of each of them while a solid technical grid is along the bottom. With a serviceable good looking cover, this incarnation of the show looks a good bit fresher than it has for awhile. No insert or reversible cover is included with the release.

Menu:
Going with a simple approach, the main menu uses the character artwork from the front cover with a static background that seems to remind me of wallpaper in a hotel. The logo looks good with the heightened lighting on it and the selections are all quick and easy to access while a bit of vocal music plays along. The menu is a pretty average effort but it works and gets you to the show quickly. Access times are nice and fast and the disc read our players' language presets correctly.

Extras:
The original release had only one extra and that's been ported to this one plus a few new ones. The original extra was the string of comments from the staff about the show that ran about ninety seconds. New to the release is a brief but good looking art gallery with some high quality pieces and some outtakes from the new English language adaptation. While a US trailer is included, a trailer for the second volume of the release is also included. The English dialogue for it is just priceless at times. "Please, screw me." never sounded so unintentionally funny.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Critical Mass has dug into the dwindling list of titles that SoftCel once put out and has given Countdown Conjoined some new life. As we've seen with their other titles, the actual presentation of the show is essentially the same yet quite different. The show itself looks like it has, albeit with a touch more clean-up with more advanced authoring since the original release back in 2003, but it sports some new audio options. With many fans wanting to hear the men and women in the show in their native tongue, the new dub presented here makes the show far more accessible. And with more shows not having dubs for adult releases, the new dub helps it stand out a bit more against the crowd.

Countdown: Conjoined is made up of two OVA episodes which are then split into a couple of episodes each. Each of the episodes is of varying length, so they're not all say 15 minutes each, but rather all over the map when it comes to running times. This works out well since an episode isn't forced to run longer than it should and the ones deserving of more time actually get it.

The stories here are also what some may consider "vintage" hentai. They're the kind of stories where when they play out, my wife comments on how nobody seems surprised to encounter a hermaphrodite. When my response is, "at least it's not scat" and we both nod approvingly, it shows just how different things have become over the last ten years as the once soft-core hentai market seems to have all but disappeared.

The mix of stories is pretty decent. The opening chapter has us following an attractive woman who is returning from her kitchen coordinating demonstration and comes across two women making out late at night in the park at one of the small buildings. She's surprised by this but also finds herself interested in it. When she's discovered watching, she runs off and eventually catches her bus. While there, her fingers start sliding downward as she remembers the feeling.

Amusingly, one of the people she saw making out earlier ends up sitting next to her and the two chat politely, but eventually it all comes down to making out and getting as crazy as they can while at the back of the bus. As the two women make out, we learn that the previously engaged one is actually a hermaphrodite, which doesn't shock the other at all. So the two get even busier with each other, resulting in a fun little sequence. The two end up going back home together, where Chizuru introduces her newfound talented partner to a younger man that lives with her that's sick. Of course, things get even more intense between the two women and no man is ever sick enough to not get involved in sex, so the two becomes three and lots of sex ensues.

That takes up the bulk of the first episode, but there is enough time for a smaller fantasy oriented story where we have the cynical hero on the horse off to rescue the princess caught by the monster. He dispatches them quickly and the two head off towards her castle. Along the way, they room at a little inn where he pays extra to get the innkeeper to pretend that they're getting the last room available. As he works his plans to take her completely, she continues on her innocent way. He quickly manages to get her mostly naked and starts working her over but ends up running into something of a problem. As she reaches a certain point, her mental state changes and she goes from being the dainty princess to the S&M Queen, completely lording over the hero. And naturally, while he gets inflicted with a lot of pain, he loves it.

The first tale in the second episode brings us to the wedding chapel, the type that have many marriages occurring at once in the building and not the traditional church chapel. Our young couple is quite in love, but the girl isn't thinking too good at times since she keeps picking out the most girly of items for their bedroom of the future, which causes him some grief. That's all minimal stuff though, as both are getting ready later in the chapel only to discover someone from their past has returned. This dark haired young woman turns out to be something of a master of both of them and is determined to make sure the bride knows who truly owns her. This leads to some really good scenes between her and the bride in her dress as she goes about reminding her of their past. Of course, the dark haired young woman is a hermaphrodite, so there's lots of sex to be had here as she dominates the bride. This tale is the kind that hints of more story to be told to flesh things out but they opted to go more for the sex than the story.

The final tale is just insane. Taking place originally in a science fiction setting, then focusing on a feudal style town that's done up as something of an attraction or tourist town, we focus on a business owner woman who continually molests and has sex with her gorgeous female employee. This goes well until a huge robot appears that has started swiping women left and right, including said girl toy. Mass destruction and more sex ensue as the woman goes after her employee while also helping the other women get freed as well. This is the kind of tale that's just all over the map and is played up more for comedy than the actual sex moments, which makes it a good companion piece to the more S&M show that preceded it.

In Summary:
All told, this wasn't a bad way to kill an hour late at night, especially since it has a lot of variety between the episodes. But two hermaphrodites in one volume? That's got to be breaking some kind of rule. It's definitely made up for by the character designs and the excellent bride in wedding dress getting nasty scenes. Critical Mass definitely deserves some kudos for rescuing another of the SoftCel titles from obscurity as well as expanding upon its audience with the new dub. Countdown has never been one of my favorites but it certainly has its moments that at the least make it interesting to watch.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art gallery,Staff comments,Outtakes

Review Equipment
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.

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