Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: C
- Packaging Rating: B-
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: D
- Age Rating: 18 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Anime 18
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 80
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Sprite: Between Two Worlds
Sprite: Between Two Worlds
July 19, 2005
Release Date: February 13, 2001
For our primary viewing, we listened to this the original Japanese audio track. The dialogue is crisp throughout, and the voice acting is on par with what one would expect from an anime of this type. Sampling the English dub showed that the localization was fairly accurate when compared to the subtitled version. The English voice acting was quite good.
The video is rather grainy and jolts a bit from time to time, but it is a notch better than many other hentai available at the time this DVD was released, and it the video is relatively clean throughout, except for certain scenes which appear a bit blurrier than others. The palette is not very extensive – a number of pastels, especially pink, are used throughout. In all, the video is decent, but has an overall faded quality to it.
The DVD packaging more or less mimics the DVD menu. It has a single-color theme on the outside and is clear on the inside, a packaging template used in many other single-volume hentai-lite DVDs released during this period of time. In this case, the thematic color is pink, which is a prominent color within the show. The inside cover offers a standard chapter listing as well as a cast list and some still images from the show.
The menus are presented in a logical manner and are easy and quick for navigation. The aesthetic layout of the menu mimics the DVD packaging – it is mostly pink, and the menu options are framed in hearts. Snippets of the English dub play while navigating the main menu.
Other than a "Meet The Cast" section and some DVD-ROM content, there aren't really any extras on this disc.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sprite: Between Two Worlds is the tale of a young college student, Manami, and her childhood friend Toru. The four-episode show begins with Toru coming to stay at Manami's house while his mother is in the hospital for some unnamed reason. Manami is a very shy but attractive girl. During certain stressful events, a completely different persona emerges, quite the opposite of Manami's normally quiet, shy exterior. This separate personality names itself Nami and, as the show develops, we understand how Manami split into the two personas, and why. It is this mystery that serves as the plot throughout the show.
Overall, the show is somewhat of a mixed bag. On one hand, it is quite easy to dismiss Sprite as nothing more than a hentai, which would be a fair assessment as there is much gratuitous nudity and a number of semi-explicit sexual encounters.
The sexual encounters, however, do more to further the plot in Sprite than to serve as the plot (which is the case in many hentai films). Gratuity is an obvious function of this show, but there is the underlying plot which ties directly into the sexual encounters and how they draw out Manami's alter ego, Nami. As we learn later in the show, the personality of Nami was actually created as a result of what could be inferred as childhood sexual trauma. It appears that Manami was an introvert, even as a child, during which the Nami personality was created as a coping mechanism – a personality that Manami could retreat into when her surroundings pushed the boundaries of her shyness. Of course, this is all inferred during the final episode which attempts to unravel the mystery of Manami's fracture into two halves.
What leads one to think that Sprite tried to focus more on plot than other hentai or ecchi shows is that the sexual encounters are a bit more sentimental than other films, and they always further one's understanding of Manami's character and her relationship with Toru. The most explicit scene (between Toru and Manami) is, in a way, rather tender. There is obvious emotion between the two characters. In addition to this, during a very awkward scene in which Manami's two personalities interact, we learn that Manami has feelings for Toru and is willing to give her virginity to him, but that also does not happen. There is even a brief scene of attempted rape, which ends in disaster for the attempted rapist. In a way, the sex in Sprite is often used to offer a hidden level of morality to the viewer, while still maintaining the surface level of gratuity.
The other theme running throughout the show, which has nothing to do with the sex present, is the survivalist trait in the Nami persona. Nami's existence is tied directly to Toru's presence, and has lain dormant all these years since Toru and Manami had last seen each other. Nami is frightened that she will cease to exist if Toru tries to fix Manami's psyche. Much of the show is spent trying to unravel the mystery of why Manami split into two personalities to begin with, and the Nami personality implies that she knows why in the second half of the show. She fears that revealing the reason would cause her own demise. She understands that she is technically the same person as Manami, but as she is not the dominant personality, if Manami is able to reconcile her issues, the Manami personality will likely swallow the Nami personality rather than the other way around. During the sequences in which Manami and Nami interact with each other, one does not see the same survivalist trait in the Manami personality – it is almost as if she takes her dominance for granted, even while she lies dormant and Nami controls her body.
As the show is only eighty minutes long, a number of questions are left unanswered, such as whether the current "Manami" is Manami's true personality, or if that is as opposed to the true Manami as Nami's personality is. We can interpret, from the title, that even the dominant personality – the quiet, reserved Manami – does not necessarily reflect her true, complete self. We are left with the sense that she will someday become whole with Toru's help, but that is up to the viewer's interpretation. In a different venue, or perhaps with a few more episodes, the show could have had a more conclusive ending, though endings of this sort are par for the course. The show raises a lot of interesting philosophical questions related to sex, personal trauma, and the intricacies of multiple personality syndrome. As such, if one is willing to sit through the sexual content (this is a light hentai, but the 18+ rating is well deserved) to get at the mystery hidden beneath, the lack of finality is the show's only true flaw.
Sony HDTV 46" connected via HDMI, DVP-NS975V, Sony STR DE-945 Receiver, Acoustic Research 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker Set