Vanilla Series: I Love You -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Critical Mass Video
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Vanilla Series Collection

Vanilla Series: I Love You

By Chris Beveridge     July 04, 2004
Release Date: July 27, 2004

Vanilla Series: I Love You
© Critical Mass Video

What They Say
From producers Shiyuuta Biwajima and Chikara Niki (ENDLESS SERENADE / GIRL NEXT DOOR / MEIKING) and with character designs by Aoi Kimiduka (CAMPUS) comes I LOVE YOU, the story of one man, three sisters, and their longing for love!

True love or just true lust?

As one of the most handsome guys on campus, Jun has never had any trouble finding a girl who wants to have a good time, but while the sex is always hot, something just seems to be missing... love. Jun?s search to find that special someone leads him to the Shinbashi sisters, his good childhood friends! Should he go for Reina, the gorgeous blonde who overflows with kindness? How about Lina, the perky and agile sports girl who?s had a crush on Jun for years? And then there?s the mysterious Mina, the fiery redhead with a sharp tongue and a hot body who?s just reappeared in his life...

Three very different sisters, but all have the same needs and desires. Will Jun ever be able to pick just one?

The Review!
The Vanilla Series proves that even when they do something eerie they can do sweet at the same time.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Both language tracks feature a straightforward stereo mix that's mostly center channel based for most things as the show is very dialogue and moaning heavy. The music makes good use of the stereo channels though and give the show a nice full feeling when it rises above the whisper of background material. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions.

Presented in its original full frame aspect ratio, the transfer for this show looks fabulous. With only two episodes and a solid bit rate, the look and feel of this show is bright and vibrant and free of a lot of the usual issues. Colors are very solid and cross coloration virtually non-existent. There's some brief aliasing going on during a few panning scenes where you'll see things like eyebrows flicker when they should be steady but that's about the extent of it. Like most hentai shows, the colors used here for the character animation is bright and shiny and it looks really good.

Going with a real classic image, the young redhead in her school uniform, complete with a flash of panties, is set against a series of beautiful cherry blossom trees with leaves flowing around her. It's an image that just screams hentai and any number of mainstream fetishes but it works and it works well. While I'm no fan of the 18" logo placed where it is here, Critical Mass' hentai covers are still miles ahead of NuTech's with their ugly banner or the way CPM and Kitty push things with their not for children labeling. Since the chances of these things even making it into a normal retailer are slim, I wish they'd focus on keeping the product looking good and less on the warnings. The back cover goes for a couple of small shots from the show while the overall background is a nice image from the beach sequence that has a good summary of the shows premise alongside it. The shows features and extras are all clearly listed and look good though the runtime is very hard to find. Like previous releases, there's no insert included here.

Using an expanded shot of the front cover, the menu looks really nice with the soft imagery and all the pale pinks and blues for the background. Selections are lined down along the left and the layout is pretty standard with no surprises. Access times are nice and fast and submenus load quickly. The players language defaults were also correctly read which earns it a few more points.

The included extras are minimal but interesting. There's the standard art gallery that showcases various scenes from the show, but the fun extra included here is a series of dub outtakes, a real rarity when it comes to hentai releases. Though short, these are amusing and I hope to see more in the future.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When it comes to the Vanilla Series of releases, it can be hard to tell sometimes exactly what you're getting into until you actually see it. Some of the more innocent looking releases have some really nasty things in them while others go in the opposite direction. For I Love You, you have the real simple image of the cute schoolgirl to go by along with the shows title. Are they out to trick me this time or is love really in the air?

Surprisingly, it's in the air and it's a rather sweet tale all told. While we have some good sex scenes and a fair number of screamers, we're getting some good relationship material (within the context of it being a hentai show) as well. The two episodes focus around stud about school, Jun. He's got a reputation as a womanizer and has plenty of women he's fooled around with. We get introduced to him by way of Hijiri, an attractive classmate with green hair who is quickly disrobed of her archery outfit. She's not exactly a conquest of Jun's but rather a really good friend with benefits, so the two know each other well and what the other likes. She teases him about his reputation and his strong need for sex but the two are good together.

For Jun, he's got someone else in mind that he'd rather be with. We learn that he's grown up with a trio of sisters, or rather, a duo of sisters after one of them left some years before with their father after a divorce. Reina's a bit older than Jun but suffers from being blind. She's an attractive blond though and has some strong feelings for him. A few years younger is Lina, a spunky brunette who does all she can to get into Jun's pants but never seems to get too far. What sticks in Jun's mind though is the middle sister, Mina. The fiery redheaded girl is something he's kept in mind all these years and is carrying something of a torch for even though they never really had anything going on.

So it's little surprise that she's returned to school and ends up running into Jun on the train, though she does it after he pats her ass and she calls him on it, not realizing who he is. The two are somewhat adversarial for awhile which leads Jun to trying to forget about her and his idealized version of her and instead re-evaluate her sisters instead. That only sets Mina against him more and leads to some amusing encounters. Added into the mix is Jun's good friend Ryotaro, a fellow classmate who has the hots for young Lina and is always talking dirty about the girls in general. But that's just his own front for the young girl he's fallen madly in love with.

Mina's return to the family after her fathers' death seems to be nothing out of the ordinary, but something sticks in Jun's craw and it only gets more interesting as he learns of the circumstances of her leaving with her father. The tales told to children in those days aren't the same tales told now, leading to a light and curious change of events that affects how you look at Mina. Jun's own changes from it are interesting as well, resulting in a very nicely told little tale of love.

In Summary:
Good sex scenes, attractive character designs, decent enough animation throughout and a nice romantic style plot results in a very fun little show. This one doesn't contain any of the nastiness of other titles that I've seen in recent months so this was a nice change of pace. Heck, even the dub is pretty decent and I had no problems listening to it while writing up the review. While not the most noteworthy release from the Vanilla Series archive, this is a great couples disc and one that most anyone should be able to watch without worry of getting ill.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Dub Outtakes

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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