This week, a show about murder, gore, and the "other"; a show about ... more murder and gore, and one about luck.
Those who read ANN reviews regularly have noticed how seldom we review hentai. This is for a couple of reasons: First of all, it's very hard to professionally and objectively review a bunch of tentacled monsters committing unspeakable acts on cute girls over and over, especially when most of these titles are very, very similar. Second of all, the talent and production values involved (on both sides of the Pacific) are traditionally so low that we run out of negative adjectives.
But occasionally there's a hentai title that has appeal to an audience bigger than the curious and the chaste-for-life market: one with a certain amount of awareness that there's more to a good title than "insert tab A into slot B. Repeat." Office Affairs offers little new territory to the adult video world, but for anime fans, it's like Pandora's box.
I've often wondered what hentai shoujo anime would be like (yaoi, or homosexual anime notwithstanding), and this is probably the closest we'll ever get. Ono is a young recruit at the newly launched Neo-Economy Magazine, and right off the bat his cute long-time girlfriend Rie is a little jealous. The female manager of Neo-Economy, Sugiyama, is strong, respected, admired, and voluptuous. Ono is secretly attracted to her, but assures Rie (during their many casual hot sessions) that he's happy with his current flame.
But things change after a late-night encounter with the boss while he's on overtime. Keeping up with Rie's cheerfulness isn't as easy as it used to be for Ono, and pangs of guilt creep up on him every time he imagines Sugiyama on top of him when it's really her. An emotional wreck, he starts succeeding at work, only to be invited to the manager's party... and at that party, there will be party favors he can't even imagine. But once submerged in the abyss, there's no pulling out for him.
There's a very obvious undercurrent of Evangelion parody here. The character designs share the same simple outline style as those of Gainax's Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, and Ono's boss Sugiyama has a striking resemblance to Ritsuko. Ono himself could pass as a 20-year-old Shinji.
But the similarities don't end there. At one point, Sugiyama starts giving him felatio in an effort to get him into a planned foursome. Ono freaks out, and getting flushed in the face (shown as very dark areas under the eyes), a close-up with a fish-eye lens on his eyes makes his place in the anime world very well known.
It's well dubbed, which is nothing less than a revelation for hentai. For a genre whose dubs often feature women that sound like a monotonous Lamaze lesson, Office Affairs offers young, gentle female voices that actually sound attractive and beautiful. The result is spectacular... dubbed hentai that doesn't induce vomiting.
Office Affairs is just good, messy fun. It's not particularly well animated, it's over-priced, and it's quite blatant in its sexual nature, but with a tone like this, how can you resist?
+ Best hentai dub job to date. Substantial characters. Wry sense of humor.
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