Wet Summer Days
Wet Summer Days is a loosely related set of OAVs involving romantic affairs set during the mid-summer in an unspecified area of rural Japan.
In the first episode, Kamishiro Souji is a painter who is an apprentice to an art professor named Shirakawa, whose tastes tend towards the macabre. The professor's daughter, Sayaka, is romantically involved with Souji, but the Shirakawa family has a dark secret that may tear their world apart.
In the second episode, Kazama Akira is a university student returning to visit his old hometown. There, he meets his childhood friend, Minase Itsuki, who to his surprise, has become a shrine maiden. Old feelings reemerge, but not all is as it seems ...
In the third episode, Inaba Hiroshi comes upon a mysterious young girl wearing a belled hat, who seemly has no name. Slowly, they succumb to the feelings of young love, but there's a catch.
Well, that's a bit of a corny name for a hentai, but once you get past that, we have a bit of a surprise in store here.
There are actually two versions of Wet Summer Days available back in Japan, from what I've heard -- one of them excises the brief (but explicit) sex scenes present in the adults-only release. Frankly, that's not such a bad thing, because this title could actually stand alone quite easily even with the onscreen sex replaced by a fade-to-black.
Wet Summer Days, to put it simply, is good romantic erotica, which is a refreshing change of pace from the usual parade of exploitative junk and/or plodding nonsense that usually pervades this genre. From the start, it's truly a hothouse atmosphere -- this show feels like a sultry Japanese summer afternoon. The skilled use of sound and background art are extremely effective in setting the tone throughout this work -- I felt like I was walking alongside rice paddies on a summer evening, listening to the cicadas fading into a chorus of treefrogs. Though I must say my own experiences in Japan certainly didn't turn out quite like this!
Of course, there would be no true merit to this show without a plot or storyline, and thankfully, this is fairly well-written stuff. Occasionally, the angst does come off a little over-the-top, but as these characters are young and prone to overreaction, this is not over the line for the romantic genre, especially when there is an air of imminent tragedy that seems to lurk right around the corner. We're not dealing with laid-back thirtysomethings here - think more along the lines of Romeo and Juliet. Also, there is a certain element of the supernatural here, which doesn't seem really as cheesy as it normally is in titles like these.
Of course, this is an adult title, so I should discuss the sex. The actual sex scenes are short, and feel far more like lovemaking than a free-show for the camera, which is also a nice change from the hentai norm. You could take out the sex scenes and this would still be a complete show ... but the sex scenes themselves are actually not bad to watch, as the animation quality of this work is fairly high as far as the genre goes. Bonus points for the realistically-built females, though the girl in episode three looks pretty young. (Granted, other than hairstyles and uniforms, there often really isn't much of a physical difference between eighth-graders and many grown Japanese women. Your mileage may, indeed, vary.)
I rarely get to see any sort of actual skill involved with the creation of adult anime titles, so a series like this is a really rare treat.
It is certainly worth devoting a couple hours of an afternoon to watching Wet Summer Days.
A sultry piece of erotic anime that is worthwhile viewing for adult audiences who value a good story, but those who are into hentai just for the sex may just call it a rental. — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: ADULTS ONLY. Primarily due to explicit on-screen sex, plus some mild violence. However, as far as hentai is concerned, this material is pretty low-key.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual; European digital source, Japanese with French subtitles
Review Status: Full (3/3)
Wet Summer Days © 2003 CIRCUS / Moon Rock
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