Review

by Bamboo Dong, Jul 2nd 2002

Bondage Mansion

DVD

Synopsis:
Bondage Mansion
When the question of inheritance falls between two men, there is only one way to settle the issue: a contest. The playing field is Reika, the prize is the mansion. Whoever breaks her first, wins.
Review:
For the fans who enjoy watching hentai either for sexual pleasure, or just the purpose of getting a good laugh at the sheer ludicrousness of everything, Bondage Mansion is now available to viewers in North America. With both episodes on one disc, Bondage Mansion also comes with a slideshow gallery. As the name implies, this feature gives viewers access into a slideshow featuring Reika in various bondage situations and positions. The actual episodes themselves, however, carry one major flaw that is their downfall, assuming that there was anything elevated to fall from. The directors and producers tried too hard. It seems as though, regardless of the aspect of the series, be it the story, or the music, they tried to make it more artistic and deep. This, unfortunately, will inadvertently make viewers either puzzled or amused rather than turned on.

Viewers familiar with hentai will most likely agree that for the most part, with the exception of a few longer running series, there is usually no worthy plot to speak of, or if there is, it is usually so outlandish and perverse that it can hardly be called a plot. With Bondage Mansion, however, it seemed as though the writers were aware of this stigma surrounding hentai and forced themselves, unsuccessfully, to insert a deep-rooted plot into the story. The end result is incidentally random sex scenes abruptly followed by a thoughtfully narrated plot insertion, or a revelation faced by one of the characters. Unfortunately, the plot tidbits that are inserted in such a fashion neither flow, make sense, nor carry any trace of significance. All that the end product churns out is two episodes that make people roll their eyes and laugh out loud at cheesy lines to the effect of “Don't you see? I'm not turned on by normal sex anymore!” To make it worse, the scenes shift between flashbacks and present time and even flash-forwards almost constantly, so it is next to impossible to just keep the time continuum straight.

Keeping with the aura of trying too hard to make a hentai into a deep, emotional work of art, the music falls into the same vein of thought. During certain parts of the episodes, the background music would swell to either a romantic string ensemble, or an overly dramatic, grandiose orchestrated work. Though these choice instrumentals would fit in perfectly in any theatrically released film, their placement in Bondage Mansion stuck out sorely. The music shows up in the most random scenes, not fitting the actions on the screen in the least bit. Somehow, it is hard for any viewer to not double over laughing when majestic pieces are played emotionally in the background while in the foreground one of the characters is screaming out maniacally, “No matter what we put into you, you can still come!” while the entire serving staff is watching steadfastly. The most puzzling aspect about the music is undoubtedly the ending theme. For the first few seconds, the music is a slow, torturous, beat that sounds evil and poorly written at best. Meanwhile, part of the screen is showing screenshots from the episodes. Then, after a few moments, the music just stops, while the credits and the screenshots continue for at least another minute. One would imagine that it wouldn't be all that hard to at least play the piece over and over again until the credits were done scrolling.



Not much better, the art and animation also portrayed the same feeling of over-dramatics forced into every possible gap. Every time the writers wanted to interpose a bit of story line or deep reflection, it would be transitioned by a shot of a door creaking open, which one can assume was supposed to be symbolic of the idea of open doors peering into the secret of the family. Another mildly annoying aspect of the art was the job that the color team did on the animation. For some odd reason, all the male reproductive body parts were painted a bright red, which, to the best of scientific knowledge, is highly unnatural. The animation itself was mediocre at best. The sex scenes were heavily overused, as many were repeats, and the body parts that were displayed bounced around in odd fashions while various colored discharges flew around contrary to any law of physics. In any other typical, low-budget hentai, this would be very much expected, but in Bondage Mansion, because the production team tried so hard to make the episodes dark, emotional, and lifelike, the oddities appeared more severe than they would elsewhere. Essentially, by trying to heighten the quality of the finished product, the people behind it inadvertently amplified the negative characteristics. To top it off, some of the acts committed were not only un-sexy, but downright disgusting to the casual viewer. Most would likely be inclined to agree that drinking someone else's urine would not qualify as a turn-on.

The voice-acting for both dialogue tracks was decent, though nothing to be excited about. For the most part, the actors for both parties were largely emotionless. This, however, could be excused as one could argue that the dark, sinister environment of the episodes warranted bleak, emotionless, dank voices. In any case, it is interesting to note that for large quantities of the sex scenes, the dialogue that occurs in the Japanese script was not translated into the English script. Instead of a stream of words that were intended to be erotic, but ended up as only ridiculous beyond hilarity, the English track was replaced with a five minute session of a monotonous chanting “Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah” repeatedly with no voice change whatsoever.

As with many hentai, what was originally intended to be erotic and kinky could inadvertently end up to some viewers as just being plain funny. Hentai fans can often be classified into three groups: those who watch them religiously to turn themselves on, those who watch them with dates to create a kinky atmosphere, and those who watch them purely to laugh at their sheer absurdity and low quality. Bondage Mansion could easily appeal to viewers from any category. However, no matter who the viewer is, that person will likely find it hard to prevent his/her eyes from rolling at the utter lameness of the forced attempt to create a deep story line and an entrancing, artistic, elevated OVA.
Grade:
Production Info:
Overall : C-

+ It's so bad it's funny
The production staff tried too hard to make this good, which is why it's so incredibly bad

Director:Norihiko Nagahama
Storyboard:Katsushi Sakurami
Music:Yoshi
Character Design:Ken Raika
Art Director:Eiji Oubi
Animation Director:Isao Yanagida
Producer:Shinichi Omata

Full encyclopedia details about
Bondage Mansion (OAV)

Release information about
Bondage Mansion (DVD)

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