No Money Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • 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: Kitty Media
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: No Money

No Money Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     November 03, 2007
Release Date: October 30, 2007


No Money Vol. #1
© Kitty Media


What They Say
Because Tetsuo has to pay off his debts, he hands over his cousin, Yukiya Ayase, to a Yakuza group. Yukiya is auctioned and sold to Kita Kano, who owns a finance business. To regain his freedom, he and his cousin must pay two million, including the auction fee and their debt. But Yukiya, of course, doesn't have such money. So, Karino gives his suggestion instead...

Contains episodes 1-2.

The Review!
Suffering from short term amnesia, Ayase finds himself now in the hold of a man who paid the princely sum of 120 million yen for him and seems to know and desire him intimately.

Audio:
This release has gone the route of a single language, which isn't a surprise for a boys-love title as the market there is still small and hard to grow with dub fans. The included Japanese mix is pretty good even at 192kbps as it provides a good forward soundstage in its design. It is mostly just a dialogue piece but there is some good placement and sense of depth along the way that adds to a couple of scenes. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and the opening and closing songs are some of the stronger moments. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released in 2007, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. No Money has some solid production values to it and it shows in the transfer here. It averages in the high sevens for the bitrate and has a very clean look to it. Outside of a few instances of line noise during panning sequences and some background noise in solid colors that are often difficult, this is a very attractive and smooth looking presentation. The animation isn't exactly active often so there is an advantage to that but the colors and solidity of the program really works well here in presenting something that stands out. Interestingly enough, the original end credits are given a constant bit rate of eight and maintain a very theatrical feel to them with the scroll. When the English credits roll afterwards, it drops down to four and looks horrible with how fast they go by.

Packaging:
While the cover may not scream yaoi at first, a bit of examination will show just that. Ayase isn't exactly effeminate but it may not be apparent at first glance. The pairing of him and Kanoh works nicely here as money floats around them and Ayase's outfit is soaked, something that plays nicely in with the fact that he's wearing a collar and his hands are bound to it. Kanoh has a certain menace to him which balances out the innocence that Ayase has. The back cover is fairly traditional in that there are a few pieces of character artwork shown softly in the background while the foreground has the usual summary material and a few shots from the show. Not unusual for a Kitty release, at least one character name is spelled differently here than within the show itself. The extras are off as well as it lists a clean opening as available but it's not. The bottom portion is rounded out with the standard production credits and an accurate technical grid.

Menu:
The menu design is simple enough as it uses the money theme to good effect. Thousand yen notes are spread out across the background while the logo itself has some coinage to it, all of which is set to a portion of the opening song. Though it's a static piece and it doesn't feature any of the characters from the show, it works well since the money is a major issue within the show. No setup menu is included and everything defaults to Japanese with full subtitles. No sign/song subtitle track is included. The extras are also accessible from the main menu which is a plus in navigation for a show like this.

Extras:
A couple of really good extras are included in the form of omake shorts. These take place after the two main episodes and serve as a comedic follow-up to events. The first couple are well animated for shorts but after that it shifts more to stills. They still have some good moments to them though as it gives us an idea of how life progresses for the characters.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based off of the manga with the same name that's done by Hitoyo Shinozaki and Tohru Kousaka, No Money is a four part OVA series that's out this year. It's actually somewhat rare to get a four part adult series done these days and even more so to get all four parts done within the same year. It started in February 2007 and the fourth episode is scheduled for December 2007. What's even more unusual is how high quality the animation and design of this is which speaks to how well regarded the source material must be in Japan.

The series is a bit awkward at first as it introduces us to Ayase, a very wispy and small young man who has big deep blue eyes. He's being auctioned off in front of a number of very disturbing older gentleman who want this pale young man in chains to be theirs for the taking. The bidding gets high right from the start but it's all outdone by a man named Kanoh who drops a hundred and twenty million to buy Ayase. As it turns out, Ayase had rescued him in some way awhile ago and the two have been together closely since then. But when Ayase was abducted and thrown into a car after falling into an issue caused by his less than reputable cousin, some of his memory went out the window and he has no recollection of Kanoh at all.

The disparity between the two man is fairly standard as Kanoh is tall, broad shouldered and has those dark smoldering looks. His profession of loan shark has him involved with unsavory types but he carries it off with well tailored suits and an air of respectability around him. Getting Ayase to his residence and working to get the drugs out of his system, he's caught in a problem by wanting to carry on with Ayase as he always has yet not being able to because Ayase is scared to death of him. Even worse, Ayase can only talk about his cousin and wanting to try and make things right there. That sends Kanoh into an angry fit which doesn't help the situation at all.

The show moves through the awkwardness of their relationship while also touching upon Ayase and his cousin's relationship as well as that of the business itself. Everything is tied together in some way and that leads to the big men working things out in a way that involves gambling and huge sums of money. All the while Ayase is pretty much dragged along as he doesn't know what to do or who to trust. Toss in a pair of twins that work for Kanoh and a transvestite client who comes across as quite familiar with all of them and it's a fairly amusing and interesting cast of what are essentially stock characters. They're given enough personality with the brief bursts of humor but also plenty of emotion when required by the scenes.

No Money features some very strong character designs to it that has a real sense of presence. Though it does use the normal shortcuts of stills and pans in order to create mood and movement, this is the kind of show that you can get away with it since it fits into the way it feels. Each of the characters has a good memorable design for those among the leads and the animation itself when it comes into play is pretty good. The strongest area tends to be that of Ayase's eyes as they really do seem like little worlds within his sockets. Unlike some other shows, you don't mistake who is who here (except for the twins maybe) and the lack of female characters really doesn't come across as unusual or out of place.

An area that's certainly important to cover is just how explicit the show is. Similar to other yaoi shows, it goes only so far in actually showing you what's going on. There are sex scenes to be sure, but it plays more to the idea of the sex than the actual visualization of it. It's similar to the idea of regular porn made by women for women in that it's the feelings that are conveyed in the characters rather than seeing the penetration. You may have Kanoh spending some time suckling Ayase's nipples but you won't see either of them sucking hard on anything, well, hard. Shadows provide for key moments and there is often a focus shift to the expressions on their faces and their thoughts at the time.

In Summary:
No Money wasn't a title that I knew was a boys-love one until I saw the logo on the back of the cover as I unwrapped it. What surprised me the most about it was that it feels like a rather high budgeted yaoi OVA with an opening and closing sequence. It's rare that you see opening sequences in adult material these days and even less so ones with vocals for it. The series has some really good production values to it across the board and the end result with the release is probably the strongest and best boys-love/yaoi OVA that I've ever seen. While it may lack the explicitness of regular adult anime, it conveys more reality in its situations and better mood and atmosphere than most. While there are two more episodes to go, this volume has a good sense of closure to it but you'll still want to see more of these characters. Very highly recommended.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Omake Theater

Review Equipment
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.

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