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Nightmare Campus Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

8 min read

When the seal is broken and demons return to the world, it’s not going to be pretty. It’s going to be sexy and violent.

What They Say:
From the creator of Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend!

Masao stumbles upon a bloody occult rite that opens the gates of Hell. He escapes with his life, but a demon possesses his soul… and his college campus! One by one, Masao’s peers degenerate into lustful fiends, and terror ravages the student body!

Contains episodes 1-5.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release is straightforward with a pair of bilingual tracks that are in stereo encoded at 192kbps. The show is very simple considering its age and budget so it’s a standard forward soundstage mix that doesn’t have a lot in the way of directionality or depth to it. It covers things well enough with a full feeling to it all but there isn’t much that separates it from the pack, leaving it to be a basic but expected presentation that lets the shows design come through easily enough. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released starting in 1996, the transfer for this five episode OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The release uses the same materials from the previous Anime 18 release from Central Park Media with new wrappers around it for logos and warnings, so we get the same encoding we had before. And that means five episodes spread across five discs with each episode running about forty minutes each on average. The series is one that wasn’t high budget to begin with and the materials used here aren’t the best either as we get a whole lot of cross coloration throughout the five episodes, though it’s not a constant. That also brings in a fair bit of line noise as well which results in the familiar jaggies and the like. There’s a bit of noise to be had as well which isn’t a surprise with middling bitrates and old, dark looking animation but it’s not as bad an impediment as the cross coloration. The show is one that will never look great and what we get here is what we had before..

The packaging for this release is done in litebox form since there are five discs for it inside of a standard sized keepcase. The front cover artwork is pretty dark and murky stuff which isn’t a surprise as we get a smaller framed image inside the larger black border that has the logo in red along the top. The artwork in the border has a black background as well which is a little awkward but the character artwork is good as it goes with the older designs that it has and just runs with it. It doesn’t sell itself hugely but it’s about what one would expect from a show of this age with as little materials as are likely available from a re-release. The back cover brings in more black with the small red framing around a series of images on the left that up the sexy factor while the larger right section has a brief plot summary in small, red print on the black background. It does have a good if murky shot below it of Masao with one of the demons that has a good sense of darkness to it. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menus for this release are the same as we had seen before from Anime 18 which means a lot of animation and movement tied together in a way we don’t see much of anymore. The backgrounds have various character pieces to them with flames and other moving elements while the upper center has a circle in which other bits of animation plays out at the same time. The navigation is arrayed around that which is quick and easy to use and lads to other menus that often have animation moving itself, yet it doesn’t slow down the whole thing. It’s a bright, colorful and almost appropriate series of menus that sets the mood right but ends up feeling just a little bit campy. Submenus load quickly and the discs default to English language with sign/song subtitles.

The extras for this release are spread across all the volumes with each of them showcasing different pieces in the same kinds of extras, like art galleries and sketch galleries that are relevant to that episode. Add in some beefy number of trailers, the old standby of the anime artform extra and the trailers for this series itself and you get a small but decent selection overall, something that hentai releases rarely have at all.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Originally released years ago both in box set form and as five singles, Critical Mass Video has rescued one of the lesser known hentai series from the Central Park Media Anime 18 label with Nightmare Campus. The series has some solid pedigree with the story coming from Toshio Maeda, who gained a big following in North America with Urotsukidoji, When the show first came out over here on DVD, it had a lot of interest because of this but it’s also a difficult show because when you get to the end of it, it’s just a tease in a way since it’s like the first part of a much larger storyline. Not that what we get here isn’t fun and enjoyable, but it leaves you wanting more. Which is good and bad.

The series revolves around “college” student Masao, a young man who while in the Himalaya’s with his parents, watches as some unknown woman proceeding to slay his parents and then him in some ritual sacrifice of some sort. Everyone back at his school is just worried about him being away for so long, and are quite surprised when he literally appears out of nowhere onto the campus grounds.

This sets off a few alarms among some of the students. Apparently the ritual sacrifice done in the Himalaya’s had opened some kind of seal and has let a massive amount of demons out. But unlike other demon shows, these demons have taken up residence in a variety of humans and this school is one of the bigger collections of them. The students who are infected find themselves with new abilities and occasionally some of them have the ability to fully transform into their demon self.

Masao’s return brings the conflict among the gangs in the schools to a head until Masao ends up realizing he’s infected as well, and not by just any old ordinary demon, but one of the high lord big shot muckity muck demons, Lord Esedess. He ends up in various scuffles with the gangs and eventually earns their respect and loyalty, which is something that’s needed as the enemy, the Gods, are moving into the school to put their own plans into motion. The Gods don’t factor in overall until the last two episodes so the first couple are more of the back and forth kind of material as you have people trying to awaken what’s really inside of Masao. The conflict runs deep in him and with different sides after him for their own agends, it’s pertty fun seeing how they go about it and the kind of fallout that comes from truly awakening him as they didn’t realize what it would really mean.

The last two episodes are definitely interesting with the approach it takes. The fourth episode spends a lot of its time showing the expanded use of the Gods on the Campus as the student council president, a non-character prior to this, takes on a main role by turning the school around, though he’s just a puppet for a higher up who wants to use the school as a launching ground. The distrust and manipulation that goes on is pretty basic here as the school is cleaned out, and that in turn leads to the situation where the revival of demons becomes a worldwide problem, which puts Masao and the others that end up forming around him in an interesting position. I like that they go big here, to turn things around when it comes to perceptions, but I dislike that they didn’t get a chance to really follow through on it.

The style of the show is very mixed and it works very well in its favor once you settle into it. The characters are mixed from classic 70’s designs with a sleek look similar to Giant Robo, generic 90’s style hentai characters that are middle of the road in terms of looks and then to the completely cartoony anime style, where characters have very angular looks and very abnormal styles. These are usually reserved for the background characters in the gangs and serves to push them as outcasts visually. The animation using these character designs works pretty well, and there’s a number of nice fluid sequences throughout. The combat between the demons and each other as well as the gods has some nicely done moments, and the animation between the characters as they go at each other is pretty well done as well. What’s interesting to note is that a good number of the characters here are very average looking, which is somewhat unusual for hentai as they try to use mostly very good looking characters.

In Summary:
Nightmare Campus is uneven in a lot of ways where it’s not always sure where it wants to go, but things do make a bit more sense and shows a bit more cohesion towards the end of it, though you do get the feeling that it’s just a last minute twist to try and put things right. The story and characters are simple and one dimensional overall and they take a few unusual turns at times, but it’s nothing too out of the ordinary for the sex and violence hentai genre to do things like that. Because of the particular style of the character designs it definitely looks a bit crude in some ways when it comes to the sex, and the violence can definitely make you feel uncomfortable, but it pushes the atmosphere of the show well in its own way and left me enjoying it, which sounds weird to say. Nightmare Campus is a show that has some good potential and some good material in it and it’s one that could use a lot of tightening and an entire rewrite, but what we have here is certainly interesting and intriguing on a few levels even if it never succeeds as a whole.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Art Gallery, Sketch Gallery

Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: C
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Readers Rating: [ratings]

Released By: Critical Mass Video
Release Date: January 3rd, 2011
MSRP: $39.99
Running Time: 200 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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