Shusaku Box Set - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: NuTech Digital, Inc.
  • MSRP: 59.95
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Shusaku

Shusaku Box Set

By Chris Beveridge     October 11, 2001
Release Date: October 11, 2001


Shusaku Box Set
© NuTech Digital, Inc.


What They Say
Featuring the voices of adult film stars Asia Carrera and Raybeness!

The symphony of the girls from a prestigious music academy are caught in a trap of the old lunatic man...Shusaku!!

In the girls dormitory of Shukusei Music Academy are the famous daughters of good families. In the middle of the night, the girl's screams echo in the silent academy. Kaori is tied up and at that moment she becomes baptized into disgrace. There is a man whose name is Kato Shusaku who looks down at her with a fiendish grin as she cries in misery...

The Review!
One of the complaints of many hentai fans over the years is the lack of emotion and the general poor acting ability of the men and women in dubs. While the Japanese side generally isn't a whole heck of a lot better, many popular mainstream voice actresses got their start in hentai. So there's definitely some talent involved. NuTech's releases employ the use of US adult actresses to tackle the roles. Aha, a stroke of genius! Or is it?

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The show is mostly dialogue and some rather emotional moments, so most of the audio is center channel based. The music and some of the sound effects make decent use of the stereo channels, but there's little real directionality here. This is a decent sounding track overall.

Video:
Originally released in 1999, this show has some really good looking animation. Of course, character designs are the real attraction here, but the cel quality is quite good, the colors are nice and vibrant and the solidity of the colors overall look great. There's no visible oversaturation here. The only problem I encountered with these discs was the cross coloration that showed up on occasion. It wasn't constant, but a scene would shift and all of a sudden a character would just be filled with it for a few seconds. Other than that, these are nice looking discs. Which I would expect for having only 30 minutes of show per disc.

Packaging:
The packaging has its plusses and minuses. The main negative is the case itself, a type of keepcase that's more boxy than others, and when all three are in the box set itself, they're almost impossible to remove. The individual keepcases themselves have the standard black and yellow warning signs, but the artwork used for the covers are pretty nice. Each of the front covers uses what I believe is the same artwork for the Japanese releases as well as containing a couple of small headshots of the US voice actresses. The back covers provide a number of image shots and decent summary of the show. Technical information is nicely laid out and in general looks good. No inserts were provided with these releases. The box itself uses the cover art from the second disc while the back side of it gives summaries for all three discs and the technical and creative information. Other than the black and yellow stripe, it looks good.

Menus:
The menu layout is the same across all discs. The show plays a bit of animation first from the show itself and then moves to the menu, where you see animation playing in the window of the camcorder. Selections are quick to access and the layout in general works nicely. Selecting languages and subtitles is easy, but make sure you do it right; for some unknown reason, the audio and subtitle tracks are locked during playback, so you can't flip and compare. Boo.

Extras:
The actual anime related extras are minimal/plentiful depending on your point of view. The main extra is a photo gallery for the Shusaku show, showing off various pieces of cel artwork. On the flip side of each DVD is trailers for all the other hentai offerings NuTech has the license to, but not any of their new stuff, just the already released things. There's also two photo galleries of the US voice actresses and a 10+ minute video interview with Asia Carrera in DTS or DD 5.1. This interview was actually used for some other materials before and not for these releases specifically (uh, I believe).

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Shusaku's a bit of an odd story, something of a sort that's not been released here in the past to my knowledge. Each disc contains one episode running about 27 minutes or so, and while there is something of a plot, and it does run through all three episodes, there's little resolution to it. But really, hentai like this isn't about the plot.

The show takes place in a small all-girls school somewhere. It's a very strict school with lots of rules, such as white panties only. This particular rule seems to cause the most trouble, and it's understandable. Realistically, very few women wear only (if any) white panties. These young girls are trying to express their individuality, but find themselves being denied due to the school rules.

The school matron/teacher is the one that catches most of the girls, especially past curfew, and gives them grief over it. She's somewhat sympathetic at times, but she's a stickler for rules. And in the end, the rules are set by Kato Shusaku, the man in charge of the Shusaku Music Academy they all attend. And his rules are the law in essence.

But like any good schoolmaster, Kato Shusaku has a secret. One he uses on each of the girls. One by one, he uses stealth photography and catches them doing things that they shouldn't be doing, mostly naughty in nature. He uses these instances to get the girls to succumb to his desires and then makes them turn one of their friends into him for more of the same, indicating he won't use the photographs. He also makes sure he videotapes each session, and uses that to coerce more from each of them, and shows the other girls the various sessions to his advantage. His big thrill though is to catch them all tinkling on tape.

Frankly, it's a fetish I just don't get. And even more frankly, I don't want to get.

What's surprising about the Shusaku series is that while it's very explicit verbally, in the characters telling each other how they feel and what they want, it's not all that explicit visually. You get the usual shots of the T&A unclothed, but none of the usual penetration stuff, things that are usually done "creatively" to avoid censoring. This show just doesn't have it, so it makes it a bit less offensive at times.

So how are the English voice actresses? Well, this is where part of my problem with this release comes into. There are no translated credits anywhere nor are there any English production credits anywhere. I've no idea who played what character in either language, or who did the work on the English production side. And while I'm certainly a fan of Asia Carerra, I have to admit I'm not good enough to pick her out of this production. But for the most part the dialogue was decent if a bit stilted at times to match mouth flaps, and the English language version isn't outrageously different from the Japanese. If anything, it's just a few bits dirtier than the subtitle script. But honestly, I'd love to know who played who in the English cast here so I can give proper kudos, as some did quite good.

The Shusaku box set is probably the better deal than buying the discs individually. 60$ list versus 90$ separately, makes it an easy choice. Most places offer it far cheaper than that. Considering it's only 90 minutes in total length, I'd look hard for a real bargain if you're interested, as it's definitely worth 30$ or so considering the length, but nowhere near 60$. I'm looking forward to seeing more of the NuTech hentai releases, though hopefully some of the other ones will have some better and more interesting subject matter.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Interview with Asia,Anime Photo Gallery,Stars Photo Galleries

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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