Dark Tours - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Adult Source Media
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 30
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Dark Tours

Dark Tours

By Chris Beveridge     September 01, 2006
Release Date: August 09, 2006

Dark Tours
© Adult Source Media

What They Say
Rina was working for a travel agency where she was in charge of the "Onihime-mairi" tour. She would be showing Matsusawa village, famous for its spiritual legends.

Horror loving couples and groups would participate in a spooky day, and it seemed to be a fresh start for Rina. However, this tour was planned by the tour participants.

In a lonely village in the mountains, the girls would be taken to new heights by the sexual desires of the men IN their group. Little did she know the spirits were controlling all of them.

The Review!
Taking over a tour for the Devil Princess Worship event, Rina finds herself caught up in a legend of sex and violence.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for it is a typical adult mix where it's mostly either a center channel based piece or some full soundstage moments with the music or various effects. There isn't a lot of noticeable directionality to this but it sounds good overall. Surprisingly, the English mix for it is a 2.0 PCM track instead of Dolby Digital. We listened to that as well and had no problems with it or the Japanese track during regular playback.

Originally released in 2004, the transfer for this OVA is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The source materials for this looks to be in great shape as the end result we have here is a clean and essentially pristine looking release. There's a slight touch of video noise in a couple of scenes, mostly with some darker flesh tones, but it's so minimal that it doesn't make much of an impact. Colors look great though the style lacks a certain vibrancy to it so we have more earth tones and darker shades in general. Detail looks good and black levels are nice and solid as are other colors.

The artwork for this release looks pretty good as it has Rina being taken advantage of within the tour bus, a scene that does not happen and with a character I don't believe I saw in the show at all, but the design looks good and the character artwork nicely detailed. The "clean" version of it is amusing as they slide a red bra over Rina's breasts but the guy is still there so it looks almost like he's playing with her. The removal of his arm and drawing of her skirt down to cover most of her crotch is also amusing but it also shows just how well they can do this kind of edit and make it seem seamless. The back cover has a brief rundown of the shows premise and a slew of pictures throughout the middle of it. The discs details and technical information rounds out the bottom portion which is a fairly standard matter for Adult Source Media releases now.

The menu design for the show is fairly well in theme as it takes the still image of the tour bus interior looking forward and in the middle places a demonic-like swirl of red wherein various clips from the show play back. The mixture of the legend with the present works well here and similar to other ASM menus, it's very easy to navigate and move about in and the language section is easy to get set up. Access times are solid and due to the nature of the release we had no problems with our players' language presets.

The extras for this is fairly standard as we get some shots from the show in a photo gallery as the only show-related extras. Also included is another of the University Girls specials, subtitled (and with a strange dub that you can select on the fly) that I still cannot find the appeal of.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Dark Tours is an interesting standalone OVA from the people at Milky that brings us a fetish I'm surprised we don't see more of; tour bus guides. There's a fair amount of live action material around these lovely ladies and some of these really amazing buses that are out there that look like you could live in them better than you could an RV. Dark Tours doesn't actually spend much time in the bus though as it's more interested in getting to its destination.

The premise is that we're introduced to new tour guide Rina who finds herself being set up for her first job. The original guide ended up in an accident and she now finds herself as the guide for the Devil Princess Worship Tour. This rather unique mystery-esque tour has a group of customers heading out to the village of Matsuawa. There's an old legend to this village of a woman who lost her guy and found herself being taken advantage of by the men in the village. She had lost her unborn child during the event and it turned her vicious and she killed most of them. The legend is tied to a doll that's part of the house where the woman, Tamiko, had lived up until they were run out. The legend of this woman is a minor draw as it brings out tourists every now and then in buses like this.

Rina's nervous about the tour and it starts off badly in that three of the four groups ended up canceling and when they do get underway nobody pays attention to her. She learns more of the tours mystery herself from one of the regulars that goes on this but mostly it seems like the guys that are on the bus are there to make out with whatever women made it onto the bus. Once they get to the multi-level house though, the story takes some minor but interesting twists as it mixes the supernatural elements that it's tucked into it with the regulars who now find themselves in something much deeper than they though. With the episode being only thirty minutes, there isn't exactly a lot of plot here so the depth of things is kept fairly minimal but it works well enough as a one-shot.

The sex scenes for it are pretty good as well with this being a solid production from Milky. Some of the scenes are cut a bit short for dramatic reasons and most of the others are fairly short but within the context of the storyline they work as well. They're well animated and avoid much in the way of repetition which is a bonus and the character designs are for the most part pretty attractive. Rina in particular stands out since she's older than your typical adult anime girl so she has more of an adult look to her. Some of the other girls are a bit younger but overall it's not a show with high school girls running around in uniforms. I don't think this will stand out in the long run but it's a pretty enjoyable title on a visual level.

The only area that I had a problem with is an area where I actually wanted to praise ASM a bit more than I've been able to. With some of the recent companies that have gotten into adult anime releases, the subtitle tracks have been of really spotty quality " and that's at best. After viewing Maid in Heaven, I felt like they might have been losing ground but figured it was an older release that got bumped. Dark Tours is much more current in both solicitation and release so it's more representative of what they're currently up to. The subtitle track for this is far better than previous releases in such basics as punctuation, capitalization and overall layout.

Where the concern comes in, beyond some of the timing issues that are still present, is some translation choices. Rina's first name is used as the show progresses but initially we know her by her family name which is normal. Except that they give it in the subtitles as "Ann Naka." My Japanese isn't worth a lick but I'd really be surprised if it was that and not something else. It's very awkward and really puts someone like me to questioning everything else on the track. ASM would really benefit from having someone far more experienced in professional translation and subtitling involved in putting out their product. They've made great strides but in this area they're still behind the long time releasing studios.

In Summary:
Dark Tours turned out to be more fun than I expected and fairly different from most of the current fetish releases that are out there these days. With its older crowd of characters and in keeping the storyline self contained to one episode, it doesn't feel like it's drawn out too much. It could easily have had more episodes but what we get here does a decent job in mixing tour guides and legendary spirits. Outside of some minor translation issues, the overall quality of the release shows some good improvement on ASM's part compared to titles released earlier this year.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Photo Gallery,Bonus Episodes

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray 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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