Reviewby Maral Agnerian,
19-year-old Gen's family has a secret that everyone would like to know — the key to immortality -- although it's somehow connected to a strange curse linked to the untimely deaths of many of his relatives, including his mother. As a manifestation of this strange heritage, Gen's...er...'vital liquid' is a brilliant gold colour. An American grad student has been studying him and his family, and is determined on getting a sample of that golden liquid any way she can. But Gen has a mystery of his own to solve: who is the mysterious beauty haunting his dreams? And why has he suddenly started losing control of his desires?
Well, well, well. Imagine that - a hentai with a plot! My otaku posse all enjoyed this one and agreed that Masquerade is quite a rarity in the Hentai world. (Plus the main character looks just like Tenchi, which can make for some fun jokes about Tenchi actually getting some nookie after all this time.) ^_~
The animation is just superb. Clean lines and smooth animation coupled with truly excellent design and layout make this show a pleasure to watch simply on aesthetic levels. The pacing is also very good; it took its time with the story and allowed for many quiet and introspective moments to build a sense of atmosphere. And to top it off, the story they're telling is actually interesting and well laid out. The title refers to the recurring element of masks in the show; Gen never sees his grandmother without a mask, and other masks keep appearing throughout the show. The ideas of hidden identity and mystery permeate the show and make the story quite compelling.
It isn't all broody and mysterious, though; there's a healthy dollop of comedy, especially in the interaction between Gen and the American girl and her attempts at getting that magical golden sample. Then there's the school nurse and her interesting methods of 'vibration therapy'... And of course, there's plenty of sex, and unlike most hentai sex scenes (which tend to either be boring or creepy), its quite entertaining. It is quite a refreshing change to see sexually aggressive females instead of the usual passive rape-victim schoolgirls. Gen gets taken advantage of quite a bit, until his supernatural libido gets the better of him and he starts giving as good as he gets.
There is a freaky, vaguely incestuous bit later on, but if you can with that, Masquerade is recomended viewing. One of the very few hentai with good animation, an interesting story and non-exploitative sex scenes, Masquerade is a winner.
Overall (sub) : A-
Animation : A
Art : A+
Music : A
+ Gorgeous art; interesting story; non-exploitative sex
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