End of Summer
Wataru is in a quandary. The girl of his dreams, Mai, seems out of reach, and the long hot summer of his youth is drawing to a close. Is he going to give up? Of course not. But then, there is the fact that there are a lot of *other* girls he has to figure out first...like immature, infatuated Miho; the tomboyish athlete Misa; naive, jilted Kurumi; and sarcastic, but secretly sweet Satomi. Who ever said love was easy?
First off, there are a few changes from the original Japanese premise of the series. Though SoftCel and other companies of its ilk desperately insist that everyone is in college and over 19 (to adhere to the societal standards of North America), these characters are, in fact, high schoolers. So while legally sound, the North American version is, in fact, inaccurate and misleading. (Whose morals are we kidding anyway?)
That being said, End of Summer is quite a rarity in the realm of hentai, which is why we're reviewing it. No tentacles, no killing, none of the stuff that gives the entire genre the reputation it mostly deserves. No, End of Summer is about male fantasy wish fulfillment, and so long as one doesn't take it too seriously, it's harmless, and actually pretty good.
The animation is quite well done, which is also a change from the usually downright ugly animation of most hentai. It's glossy, and there appears to have been quite a budget for the series, though not much is really asked of the animators as far as action sequences are concerned. The character designs are attractive, which comes with the territory (of course, dating sim characters are *always* cute).
The most surprising thing about this title is the characterization. Its mere presence is borderline astonishing for any hentai title, but Wataru's motivations, as well as those of the girls he encounters and befriends, are well-plotted and understandable, which is better than a lot of other anime out there, much less anime of this genre. None of the characters is portrayed as particularly vacuous or lecherous (except, perhaps, Kurumi's erstwhile boyfriend), and they're actually likable to the point of feeling a bit guilty you're watching them in the most private of moments. It never feels like Wataru is ever truly taking advantage of the girls against their will - the act is consensual, unlike many (if not most) other hentai out there.
Not to say that End of Summer doesn't have its weak points. This show is certainly aimed at fulfilling the wishes of single, high school or college-age males. No real girl would accept a sexual escapade as consolation for something wrong in her life, and no real guy would follow the path to the girl he loves through bedding a bunch of other girls along the way. Right? Or maybe I'm just a monogamistic prude, but the whole sex aspect, while tastefully handled for the genre (all implied and not, in fact, shown), is still a bit outside the realm of reality.
But so what? End of Summer isn't a pornfest, much less a show for fans of tentacled mayhem. It is a genuinely kind-hearted romance drama (with a heavy dose of sexuality) that really ought to be appreciated as worthwhile anime by those mature enough to understand it. Mind you, if you want to watch hentai to, ahem, enjoy yourself at night, then this title will be a bit disappointing, and those of you who shy away from anything remotely smutty shouldn't even be reading. As a well-told story, however, End of Summer is certainly far beyond anything else of its kind.
If this isn't your cup of tea, of course, don't watch it, but mature audiences might want to give this anime another look. It's not what you'd expect. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: NOT FOR CHILDREN. Older copies of this title have a harmless-looking box cover that may confuse unwary parents into renting (or buying) it for their kids - hence the reputation this title has. The actual deed is never explicitly shown as in other hentai, though ironically enough, the sex scenes are probably the most emotionally charged of any hentai title. Adults who don't mind something racy like this should probably give it a try. But, again, remember, you get what you ask for - so the squeamish and conservative would do well to stay away from this title.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (4/4)
End of Summer © 1994 elf / Pink Pineapple
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