Masquerade - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Anime 18
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 120
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Masquerade

Masquerade

By Chris Beveridge     September 29, 2003
Release Date: September 11, 2001


Masquerade
© Anime 18


What They Say
From the creative genius behind Tenchi Muyo! Gen hungers for sexy woman, but every time he gets near them he transforms into a monster! Beautiful animation and sexy girls make this show a winner!

The Review!
Providing yet another value release, CPM has put both tapes together for one solid DVD here, giving you all four episodes of one of the more subtle hentai titles available. Longtime readers here may remember when it was reviewed as a region 2 title known as Go Senzo-san-e.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. And this is a good thing, as we checked out parts of it in English afterwards and I couldn't believe how miscast the main character was. The student sounds more like a middle aged man. As for the audio tracks themselves, they're your basic stereo level quality OVA track, with mostly dialogue being used through the center channel with little directionality. The music is the real standout here, with a great score that works well in filling up the front soundstage.

Video:
This is a solid looking presentation. Throughout the four episodes, I found very little to be critical of overall, with only some softness in a few areas that may have been intentional as opposed to something with the transfer itself. Colors are vibrant when necessary and drab when the situation calls for it. The grays and blacks look nicely solid and there was little in the way of macroblocking that I could see, even on my Apex. There's some exceptionally minor cross coloration in a few scenes, but it's so minimal I nearly missed it the first time.

Packaging:
If anything, I found the cover to be the weakest part of this release. While it's not a bad image, it's just too dark. This show isn't filled with a lot of darkness, but something more colorful and something with the brighter cherry blossoms would have worked better. Or I'm just spoiled by the Japanese cover. The back cover provides a few suggestive looking pictures of some of the women and gives a very brief summary of the show. Technical features and credits are clearly listed. The reverse side provides a couple of black and white shots as well as the chapter listings for all four episodes.

Menus:
The menus are the typical CPM style, with some animation playing in the middle of some static pieces. As has happened with a number of releases this year, they use English dialogue in the menus, which just makes us cringe. The menu selections are quick to access and moving around in the menus was a breeze.

Extras:
The only extra included on the video side is the storyboard to animation piece, which we've seen on a few other titles recently. This continues to be an interesting presentation in being able to see the original rough sketches and see how they changed them to the final product.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the draws for many people with this show is the fact that the character designer and writer is Masaki Kajishima, known for his involvement with the Tenchi Muyo series. And with this series being animated by AIC, they've done an interesting job in picking which character designs to recycle for this series.

Suffice to say, this looks like Tenchi and the kid from Dual. If you weren't told ahead of time, you could find yourself being quite surprised. Especially when the women start molesting him.

The story unfolds at the death of Gen's mother. Though Gen doesn't seem all that traumatized, he finds himself now living with a grandmother he didn't even known about. Conveniently, she's the chancellor at a local *cough* college *cough*. This lets her get him enrolled in the school easily and keep a close eye on him at home. The grandmother lives with only one companion, a young looking maid/attendant named Beth. We're introduced to Beth when she arrives at the station to pick up Gen from the train, and she comes across Gen after he finds himself molested by some young blonde American girl.

On their walk to the house, Beth casually reveals that she's older than she looks. She goes on and tells a surprised and unbelieving Gen that she's around 461 odd years old. This doesn't come up again for awhile, but it does start opening the door on the oddities that inhabit the house and its residents.

Gen's grandmother wears a mask on her face at all times, due to a disfigurement years and years ago, so we never truly see her face. She talks kindly to Gen and tells him all sorts of comforting things, but that he's got to get back into the swing of things, so he's got school tomorrow. After some rest and cleaning up, he finds himself in the same room as Beth. Though normally something of a quiet guy, he quickly finds himself desiring Beth to the point where he simply must have her. Suddenly one of his eyes begins to glow gold, and while he doesn't go feral, there's a definitely primitive urge forcing him along there. Beth fights him off at first, but then succumbs to his need.

Then there's the oddities at school. One of the teachers/counselors there looks exactly like Gen's mother. His reaction to this is just disbelief and bewilderment. Part of it may be carried over from his earlier encounter in seeing the school nurse and one of the students engaged in some extracurricular activities. And he also finds himself the target of the young blonde American girl who wants to get her hands on his semen, as it's apparently rather unique and golden now. Tie all of this together with flashbacks to the past when Gen was much younger and came across a woman looking like the counselor and the increasing number of times the golden eye urge comes over him and you've got a weird tale, yet one that really draws you in the more you watch.

The show is fairly hard to describe since it only runs four episodes, talking too much about one thing definitely gives away more. And this is a show that slowly unravels before your eyes, as each instance brings new things to light. It's definitely not a show I expected to see when I got it, and I was very pleased by how it turned out. It's not overly graphic for the most part, there's no tentacles or demons. It's also got a great score to it, tied to the image of the cherry blossom trees. The music really does an excellent job of enhancing the mood without being obtrusive.

If you want to avoid the tentacle anime genre, this is one title I can easily and heartily recommend checking out. Excellent OVA production values, some known quantities in their production side of things, good voice acting on the Japanese side and a solid looking transfer from CPM. Very recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Storyboards

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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