Strange Love - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: D+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 80
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Strange Love

Strange Love

By Chris Beveridge     February 12, 2002
Release Date: February 17, 2002


Strange Love
© Central Park Media


What They Say
Yoshida Chizuru is the sexiest co-ed in her class. Secretly, she's been appearing in TV commercials - despite the fact that students are forbidden from working. But one of her professors has uncovered her secret and hopes to use this information to his advantage. Yoshida's got plans of her own, and has no intention of giving up her acting career....

The Review!
Strange Love is a title a long time in coming for some reason. It was originally announced back in the fall of 1998 and just continually got delayed and delayed. Having now seen it, I have to wonder why.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The two OVA episodes here are basically a decent stereo mix that's completely focused on the forward soundstage. Dialogue and music sound decent throughout though there's little actual directionality across the forward soundstage, but there's little to actually require it. This is a decent normal soundtrack.

Video:
Originally released in 1997, it's a fairly newer show so it's got a better looking transfer than a lot of the older shows in CPM's catalog. Cross coloration is very minimal here and there's little in the way of macroblocking, which leaves the main problem of line shimmering and what looks to be some fairly noticeable edge enhancement in a number of scenes. The line shimmering is noticeable in a number of areas but very prominently during camera panning sequences. Colors look good, but this isn't a very vibrant hentai show.

Packaging:
The front cover provides a shot of the main woman Yoshida, whose character design is just very unattractive (to me) in a towel. The front cover is pretty basic in nature, and the back cover follows suit with just a picture of the two main girls in boxing outfits (something that doesn't happen in the show). Thees a brief summary and a listing of features, but the mainthing that they try to draw attention to here is that Yasuomi Umezu (their spelling) is the character designer, in trying to capitalize on recent releases such as Kite and Mezzo Forte. The reverse side of this cover in a clear keepcase shows several black and white sequences from the show as well as chapter selections and cast listings.

Menus:
The menus are pretty simple but nice with a solid piece of animation at the top and a section playing along the bottom to the shows main theme. Selections are quick to access and the layout is easy to follow.

Extras:
In addition to a Meet the Characters section, we get an extra from the Japanese release that's quite rare for a hentai-ish show. A behind the scenes featurette showing the auditions of the two main actresses, both new to the field, and various shoots from promotional footage and Q&A sessions with magazine reporters. It's brief in being only five minutes or so, but it's so rare to see actresses from shows like these that it's almost fascinating to see.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Strange Love is one of those quirky titles that just feels different from other hentai shows. It's not a hardcore hentai show as there's nothing explicitly seen for the men or women beyond chests. This gives it a cleaner feel than most. CPM makes things confusing though by giving the disc a 16+ rating and then when you watch the show, they plaster their 18+ warnings all over it.

Strange Love focuses on a college girl named Yoshida Chizuru. She's apparently the most attractive girl at this college and has people always falling for her, and she makes good use of them for her own needs. She stays with different people nightly since she's on her own, but it varies as to what she'll do with them. But whatever she does, they end up falling hard for her. Enter a young professor at the college who now finds himself smitten with her but tries to play things right. Sushiaki is one of those nice guys, but has a problem in fantasizing about things during waking hours, such as taking out a yakuza thug or having Yoshida fall for him in ways she never will.

Yoshida ends up taking advantage of him and crashing at his place, where she uses her wiles to mess with his mind and make him think he's going to get lucky, and then ends up handcuffed to the table. This takes up a good chunk of the episode but feels so pointless because it is. It really doesn't go anywhere and only gives a few small insights into her character and her motivations. And then it promptly dumps the Sushiaki character and moves on to the next episode with a different set of characters outside of Yoshida.

The second episode fairs a bit better as we have Yoshida taking advantage of a young rock star who she actually fools around with. This again is temporary, until she meets the new girl next door who goes to her school and she falls absolutely head over heals for. She tries to convince herself she's not a lesbian, but that fails pretty quickly, though she tries to hide it from this new girl, named Ayumi. Ayumi's got the cuter looks of the two, and it's easy to see why Yoshida falls for her. The episode goes on about the fixation Yoshida has and her manipulation of the rock star and his place to get what she wants.

In the end though, both episodes don't really do much and it's easy to see why only two were made. It's hard to see why it got past the first one though. I found the character designs for most of the characters to be really unattractive though, especially Yoshida. There were a few split second moments during the episodes where you could see some of Umezu's trademarked looks and designs, particularly in background characters, but the primary ones here just look awful. Yoshida's character is essentially a joke with the massive mammaries that remind you of Madonna's rocket bra, and they do the whole gag with them bouncing out in front of her while running. It's almost sad.

The show does have one memorable line though, in how it talks about how you too can have virgin hair. Forget the anime, start importing Japanese TV commercials and bill them as comedies.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Meet the Characters,Behind the Scenes Featurette

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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