Reviewby Theron Martin,
Netsuzou Trap -NTR-
Episodes 1-12 streaming
Yuma and Hotaru have been close friends and neighbors forever, with the taller and more sociable Yuma often looking out for Hotaru. But starting in middle school, Hotaru outpaced Yuma romantically by dating a succession of boyfriends leading up to the stern Fujiwara in high school, while Yuma's first relationship is more tentative with Fujiwara's gentler friend Takeda. Despite this, Hotaru has also started to make advances on Yuma. She passes off her fondling and kisses as innocent playfulness, but Yuma is left unsure how to feel about Hotaru's motives or her own affections. Can she actually feel that way about another girl? And at what point does this become cheating on their respective boyfriends?
The most dedicated fanservice series of the Summer 2017 season was undoubtedly My First Girlfriend is a Gal, but it's nowhere near as salacious in content as this adaptation of Naoko Kodama's yuri manga of the same name. Over the course of a dozen nine-minute episodes, NTR spins the tale of a girl who becomes increasingly confused about her sexuality after her best friend makes advances on her, all the while providing the girls plenty of opportunities to get in compromising positions. In other words, there's nothing particularly sensitive or delicate about this girl-on-girl love story.
At its heart, the series is a standard teen melodrama, where the main character finds herself torn between two potential lovers and spends most of the story in a conflicted state over who she actually wants to be with. The only difference here is that one of the choices is another girl. Takeda represents the safer and more conventional option: a handsome guy who seems to be genuinely in love with Yuma and is decent enough not to push Yuma into sexual situations she's not ready for. The “bad boy” in this scenario is Hotaru, who is far more sexually precocious and physically aggressive despite her deceptive appearance. She doesn't hold back until she's pushed Yuma to a breaking point, then plays her advances off as if she's just teasing without ever being honest or direct about her actual intentions.
Framed this way, the story is less a conventional yuri romance and more about Yuma questioning her own preferences. When she pauses to wonder if she's physically attracted to Hotaru or not, she claims to be contemplating whether or not she could be interested in girls, but she's also considering whether or not she's more enticed by the danger of Hotaru's naughtiness or Takeda's more safe demeanor. It's never made clear if Takeda's personality marks him as friend-only material for her or if it's his gender; it remains unknown whether Yuma might be bisexual or a lesbian. Ultimately, Yuma comes across as too emotionally immature to handle a sexual relationship yet.
The series also has a darker and edgier side to it. Most of the series is from Yuma's viewpoint, so we never truly know what Hotaru is thinking. Some of her behavior suggests that her seduction is a power play, trying to assert herself in a friendship where she's long been the protected one. Her choice to forcefully outpace Yuma on the dating scene certainly looks like a response to that complex, and nearly every action she takes toward Yuma feels calculated. There's also an abusive boyfriend in the picture in the form of Fujiwara, who professes to dislike girls but still enjoys sex with them; he isn't shy about physically abusing Hotaru when she isn't cooperating with his whims. A revelation near the end of the series indicates that their actual relationship is pretty twisted, though its complexities doesn't excuse the abuse of course. Hotaru's constant excuses for Fujiwara after Yuma finds out about the abuse further muddle Hotaru's feelings and motives.
There's also the name of the series to consider. Netsuzou Trap translates as “fabricated trap,” but the more significant part is its NTR abbreviation. This is also the common abbreviation for netorare, a particular subcategory of doujinshi that focuses on stories of cheating, usually involving a woman cheating on her significant other with another man. Given that a variation on this scenario is happening here, that leaves little doubt about the intent of the piece; whatever else its story might aspire to, it's meant to be titillating first and foremost.
This comes through quite clearly in the production values. The minute-long opener, which uses one of the season's better songs, is laced with fanservice including a final scene of the two girls sitting naked as they prepare to kiss, and nearly every episode has at least one sexually explicitly scene or the implication of one. (This is one place where the shorter episode format makes a big difference, as with regular-length episodes, this would be happening at an overkill rate of three times per episode.) The technical merits beyond that are pretty decent for a short, though the way some shots are framed suggests that the director might have been aiming for an eroge feel. Musical support errs on the dramatic side, though the score avoids becoming overbearing.
While the series occasionally hints at some deeper point in its storytelling or characterization, Netsuzou Trap -NTR- works best as merely trashy fun. It does have some complexities, but the show doesn't dwell on them long enough to properly examine its potential themes, clearly selling itself more on girl-on-girl sex appeal than anything else.
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : C+
Animation : B-
Art : B-
Music : B
+ Lots of sexy scenes for yuri fans, some hints at actual depth, good character development for Yuma
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