Cowboy Bebop Remix Vol. 1
I don’t feel that I need to say much about the latest edition of Cowboy Bebop on DVD; if you’re any fan of anime, you know the plot and the characters already. If not, then feel free to educate yourself by the various synopses and reviews already online.
This volume contains the first five episodes of the TV show. While that’s nice to see in a three-to-four episode world, the previous DVD edition also had five episodes. Bonus features include commentary from Japanese and English voice casts, an interview with voice actress Wendee Lee, and trailers, so nothing spectacular in and out of itself. Fans will probably pick up this version of Cowboy Bebop because they’ve never gotten around to buying the series until now or because of the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. I will admit that the infamous “Ballad of Fallen Angels” was pretty impressive in surround sound. Still, nothing really new here. Move along. --JC
Debts of Desire
This is yet another hentai from BISHOP, the mind behind Private Sessions 2, featured in last month's anime briefs. The setting is still a hi-- college, but this time it's co-ed, and the naughty professor has been swapped out for a pervy male student. This is your standard release from Critical Mass, which means little to no special features, but that's okay. It's hentai.
Rich playboy Masaki is in trouble with his father, who is the president of a major corporation and of Masaki's school. He risks being disowned from the family unless he can collect on some large debts owed to his father and prove that he is a worthy heir to the family's fortune and to the job as president. Luckily, all of the debtors have really sexy daughters attending the same school as Masaki, so you can guess how he decides to collect on the interest owed.
Breaking the cardinal rule of threes, Masaki only has two girls -- brunette Mizuki, who wants to become a nurse, and blonde cheerleader Mai, who had a crush on Masaki even before he showed her the debt note. Sex acts are rather tame in Debts of Desire, mostly restricted to vibrators and bondage, although there is a watersports scene, as well as usage of an enema. Happily, the scene cuts away before we see anything. There is a scene with quasi-medical instrument usage; it had to happen with Mizuki's desire to become a nurse, but I've seen a lot more... intrusive acts in hentai. Despite the obvious porn mathematics, there are no threesomes in this hentai, but I am happy to report that the standard virgin blood spill in Debts of Desire is minimal.
There is a little twist at the end, where Masaki and his father are made to eat a little humble pie by their blue-haired maid Riko, which I enjoyed, but overall, this is a rather average hentai with a little fetish action tossed in. --JC
Girls Bravo Vol. 2
The addition of a few new characters makes Yukinari’s life even more interesting, since it seems like one might take Miharu back to her home planet. Koyomi is a member of the Seiren Space Management Bureau who was told to bring back Miharu after being gone for a month and her sister putting in a request. After this story wraps itself up, we get another episode to introduce a new character and a stand-alone episode. The second character introduced is a little kid, and that almost always means bad news, with this not seeming to be any different.
Girls Bravo for some reason actually seems to have a few more serious moments in this volume at times, getting away from what the show really should be about and what makes it enjoyable: the wacky comedy. The serious moments don’t seem to work. While one or two moments are alright, any more is unnecessary. We should all be thankful that Fukuyama is a character, because he can manage to turn anything around. With such great lines as “By memorable, I mean nasty,” “They’d still be here if you weren’t such an asexual waste of space,” and “My back is breaking, but the warmth of Kirie’s firm, taunt buttocks against mine leaves the rest of me throbbing with pleasure” makes him always good for a laugh. His sister does take a very small role in this volume, but at least his role remains large.
Hopefully Girls Bravo won’t spend as much time trying to be serious in the next volume. It’s been moving at a decent pace with some nice humor. It also manages to keep the level of fanservice very high, making it stand out from other fanservice shows. --JL
Piano Vol. 1
Piano is the heartwarming tale of Miu Nomura, a young girl whose love of the piano has faltered since her old teacher moved away. She has a passion for playing the instrument, yet she can’t seem to put forth her feelings any longer. So when good things begin to happen to her, her music becomes more beautiful.
The animation for this series is a wonderful mix of serene colors and textures. It feels very life-like and at times calming. As for the characters and character development, it runs smoothly from one episode to the next. There aren’t too many characters to get acquainted with during the three episodes on this disc. I haven’t seen many anime where the parents of younger people are actually involved in the story, as they are in this one, which I found refreshing. I was able to view this one both in English and Japanese. My preference is the Japanese cast. The English dub isn’t too bad, but there are a few characters whose voices sounded a little off to me. The only real complaint I have is that there are only three episodes, whereas most discs nowadays have four or five. Other than that, this was a great first volume.
There were some added bonuses this time around. The extras menu includes Right Stuf trailers, a textless opening, character bios, a line art gallery, original character sketches, and the special epilogue 1, which is an interview with Ayako Kawasumi, the voice of Miu. Even better is the booklet and reversible DVD cover. The booklet is just an insert with production notes and a side story. --MB