Vanilla Series: Endless Serenade -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Critical Mass Video
  • MSRP: 14.98
  • Running time: 35
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Vanilla Series Collection

Vanilla Series: Endless Serenade

By Chris Beveridge     September 29, 2003
Release Date: September 30, 2003

Vanilla Series: Endless Serenade
© Critical Mass Video

What They Say
Yuji can’t deny it – he’s infatuated with Satsuki. She’s the center of his every waking thought, the star of his every wet dream… There’s just one major problem. Satsuki is his late brother’s fiancée. Now, a year after his brother’s death, Yuji is hoping the day has finally come to make his move, but a steamy night with Miki, the shy red-headed girl at work, could change everything. Should he be with the girl he’s always wanted, or the girl who’s always wanted him?

The Review!
The Vanilla Series takes a moment to do a short one-off show that deals with how to handle a grieving widow.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese using headphones. The episodes is done in a solid stereo mix that has a really good use of the forward soundstage with dialogue moving around quite a bit as the characters do. Dialogue was crisp and clear throughout and there were no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released in 1999, Endless Serenade is a decent looking OVA that manages to walk the line a bit in how it looks, mixing what seems to be traditional and digital animation. There’s some background grain throughout parts of this as well as some noticeable nicks and in a few areas while the foreground ends up dealing with a few areas of cross coloration and some minor aliasing. It’s pretty minimal by all accounts, but if you’ve got your face pressed up against the screen, you’re going to see it.

With the style employed here, you’d be hard pressed to think it was a hentai release outside of the 18+ warning label, as the central image is the nice shot of the two female leads and the male lead with a really nice logo for the show, all inside a pink border against a black backdrop. It’s somewhat eye-catching but doesn’t scream look at me. The back cover provides a couple of shots from the show as well as a simple paragraph summary. The discs features and language information is clearly listed as well as the basic technical and production information. There was no insert included in our copy of this release.

The main menu is a really nice piece, probably one of the better looking hentai ones I’ve seen. The foreground is a static black silhouette of two people hugging along the skyline of the city and its trees while the background is made up of the setting sun. The sun itself contains the animation from the show itself to changing colors of the sun, playing out nicely and fairly subtle at some points during it. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is smooth and friendly.

The extras here are minimal, but that’s typical for adult releases. There’s a small 35 second video art gallery that shows off various cels from the show as well as the original cover artwork (this release is much better). There’s also a U.S. trailer for this series included.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a running time of thirty-five minutes, Endless Serenade manages to squeeze in a surprising amount of sex and storyline, especially considering how simple the story is. This is the kind of the show that manages to walk the line between being good for new fans and couples and those moving beyond those titles into something more.

The story centers on a young man named Yuji who works in a convenience store that’s run by the widow of his now dead brother. Satsuki and Yuji’s brother were originally going to start it up together, but he died before they could do that. Satsuki still wanted to, so she could make his dream come alive, and Yuji ended up helping out quite a lot in addition to his college work. While Satsuki is quite good at the customer service side of the business, she’s not that great when it comes to the books and most of the management details. So Yuji’s taken over more and more of those duties.

Of course, Yuji also has a massive crush on Satsuki. He’s in the awkward position of being very close to her now since his brothers death but still trying to honor his memory.

Yuji’s not completely hard up though, as there’s always fellow employee Miki, something of an odd red headed girl whose been working at the store for a bit. She tries hard to deal with the customers as expected, but there’s something in her personality that makes it difficult for her to do so. Yuji naturally has all kinds of naughty daydreams about her, which only causes him more trouble.

Add in a couple more minor characters who provide some simple sex sequences and you’ve got a nice little slice of life show that’s heavy on the nookie. Yuji tries to deal with his feelings and balancing the store issues with regards to Satsuki and the possibilities that may exist with Miki. Through the course of the thirty-five minutes, we watch the pendulum swing back and forth over who he may be right for. Add in lots of wet dreams and this is actually a nice filled show when it comes to sex.

The character designs for it are pretty good, though maybe a bit too angular for some people depending on just how soft and cute you prefer them. The sex scenes themselves are pretty decent though not terribly hardcore. This is the kind of show where certain parts are colored like bright red to avoid the censorship issues. That doesn’t detract from it, but it’s one of those bits that keeps this more in a transitional type show than anything else.

With its low price and short running time, this is probably a good cheap introduction to the non-tentacle side of hentai. It’s got the absurdity you get from all adult shows in the fact that everyone is going at it constantly but it also provides the slice of life feel that a lot of mainstream anime shows do. This is cute harmless fun.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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