Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 18 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: SoftCel Pictures
- MSRP: 29.98
- Running time: 60
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Virtuacall
By Chris Beveridge
September 12, 2003
Release Date: September 23, 2003
What They Say
© SoftCel Pictures
Emily has a problem. It�s her big brother Hasegawa. Well, he�s not really her brother, he�s just another boarder in the condos where Emily lives, but he�s always treated her like an older brother. Trouble is Emily doesn�t necessarily want a big brother.
However, when Hasegawa develops woman trouble, Emily decides to help him improve his confidence and his chances of scoring with the woman of his dreams by introducing him to Virtuacall, a virtual meeting place for men and women where you can see, hear and, most importantly, touch your dreams. The Review!
The virtual reality route is once again explored in the hentai realm, though this series is more a relationship comedy.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, and due to the fact that it�s the only language available here, we listened to this show in its original Japanese. The two episodes sport a decent sounding stereo mix that�s generally center channel balanced while music and some incidental moments make use of the stereo channels. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no dropouts or distortions.Video:
Originally released back in 1997, the transfer here looks good. Done before Pink Pineapple went fully digital, the show maintains some of the charm from the traditionally animated shows here. Colors look good though a bit dull in some areas, but mostly done in real-world style outside of the hair. There�s some very light cross coloration in a few areas but nothing really distracting.Packaging:
The front cover provides a nice shot of the lead character and the virtual character together in cute outfits and some really detailed artwork. The back cover provides a few more accurate shots on the back cover as well as the basic premise. The discs basic technical information is fairly easy to find, and thankfully they at least here list the language and subtitle formats available. The insert provides a new shot of Emily in her schoolgirl outfit while the reverse side is chapter stops.Menu:
The main menu is a nice little animated piece with some catchy music playing along that has three panels across it, the left and right ones rotating between different girls just like in the show while the center panel has all the selections. With nothing really on the disc outside of the show itself, the menus are fairly minimal but access quickly and load fast due to no transitional animations.Extras:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The virtual reality side of the hentai genre has had a fair amount of exploration in the past, some good and some bad. Virtuacall manages to actually slide right into the middle of that range.
The two episode OVA series revolves around Emily, a young woman just finishing up her schooling in Japan and is about to return home to her country where her parents are the rulers. Naturally, she never tells anyone about this as she wanted to go abroad to learn and deal with things as a regular girl. And being something of a regular girl for so long now, she�s fallen in love with her next door neighbor.
In his fourth year of college and getting closer to finishing, Hasegawa lives by himself in his small apartment and has basically looked out for Emily since she arrived there. The two get along like brother and sister to the point where she even calls him brother. Since Hasegawa is far from the ladies man type, he�s spent plenty of time with Emily in going to the movies, shopping and more. They get along well, though he sometimes feels pressured into doing things he doesn�t want to. Of course, he�s completely oblivious to how she feels about him.
He�s hooked on this cute girl named Suzune and really wants to get with her, as Emily eventually discovers. One of the things that ends up getting thrown into the mix after Emily finds out is the fun little device called Virtuacall. Basically an oversized helmet with an antenna, it allows the user to log in and go through visuals of various people who you can then talk to and interact with privately. Everything you do feels as real as can be as Hasegawa discovers after having sex with one young woman.
Hasegawa doesn�t exactly get hooked on this, but he ends up checking it out a few more times, one time at the urging of Emily as she wants to try and be with him. He instead comes across a drunk Suzune on there and does his best to take care of her, causing a relationship to start after she realizes that he�s one of the good guys. This turns Emily into the third wheel, all the more eager to leave now.
The two episodes move back and forth between real and virtual sex scenes and plays up the romantic comedy side nicely. The characters are all pretty much easy to relate to and to watch, with only some of the minor secondary characters needing to be smacked. The character designs are decent, less so for Suzune and more so for Emily, but that�s just me. Virtuacall is a decent couples show for first timers since it�s all consensual and doesn�t really offend much. It�s a good way to test the waters with your significant other. Or, if you�ve just finished a few days of watching nothing but hardcore hentai, this will seem like a sitcom you�d enjoy.
Japanese Language,English Subtitles
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.