What They Say:
In Aki Sora, growing up and falling in love aren’t always easy experiences, especially for Sora, the only son in a family full of women. Between an absent mom and his domineering sisters, Aki and Nami, things are definitely difficult for him.
When Aki’s love begins to go beyond the sisterly, Sora finds himself hesitantly returning those feelings. The two struggle constantly with the nature of their relationship and the need to keep it secret. But they soon learn that their love isn’t the only forbidden one in the family!
The audio presentation for this release is definitely well done as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo via PCM, a warm and uncompressed way. The stereo presentation is one that covers the bases well for this dialogue-driven work, with a few moans along the way, and it’s generally a full feeling work with some minor placement here and there. The show has some incidental music to it and the closing song as well which helps to expand its full feeling and there’s just a good sense to it overall even as it works a kind of minimalist approach. The incidental music builds well where it needs to and the more intimate moments feel well-realized. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2010, the transfer for this two episode OVA series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. I had liked what I’d seen on the DVD about six years prior but this incarnation feels like the color vibrancy has been moved up a few notches in a great way, giving it a lot warmer and more engaging look. There’s a moody nature about the show at times and that brings in a certain softness to a number of scenes and it all holds up very well with clean and solid colors that are layered without problems. The more intimate sequences stand out with their design and the colors are really appealing as is the detail that comes with all of it. I had little overall issue with the standard definition version of this show but it just feels like a richer work here in high definition.
The packaging for this release goes simple but effective as it gives us an almost full-length shot of Aki in her school uniform as she lays down on the bed. Of course, the uniform is falling off of her and there’s plenty of skin and undergarments exposed, but it at least has a sense of being tasteful about it rather than just full on butts and boobs, which I can appreciate but isn’t always the best way to go. The logo is spread across her and it’s also kept simple but effective. The back cover uses a familiar piece of artwork as its main basis with the three main family members together in their school uniforms, though the girls have theirs coming off a bit and showing some skin. The premise is well placed and easy to read as are the production credits for the Japanese side. The technical grid along the bottom is laid out well in a very easy to read format so you know what’s on there and it cleans up the errors that were on the DVD packaging previously where that version had an incorrect running time and listed it as bilingual when it’s not.
I also admit to liking getting quoted on the back of it for our DVD review!
The menu design works off of the concept from the back cover artwork and uses the main trio there, which has a good amount more vibrancy to it in the menu with its colors and detail. The white clouds expand over to the right where under the overly large menu we get the navigation, which allows for scene selection submenus and a top-level language setup. The layout is cute as it has a nice feeling to it overall with that sense of innocence from the clouds and sky but with just enough of a tease in the character artwork. It’s easy to navigate and setup is obviously a breeze, making it quick and accessible overall while fitting the mood just right.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Matsuhiro Itosugi, Aki Sora is a two-episode OVA series by Hoods Entertainment which reworked what they did in a previous standalone OVA. This release came out when there wasn’t a lot of hentai out there and in a lot of ways this doesn’t quite feel like hentai – enough so that it’s not listed as such at retailers but is given an 18+ rating because of its sexuality. So Aki Sora was definitely appealing from that point of view simply because it wasn’t a clip job or a re-release of something that’s been out several times over the last decade or more nor something that’s just about sex and nothing else.
The premise for the show may be thin but it does play with the material well. We’re introduced to the Aoi family, which is without a father. What we get is the mother, the eldest daughter Aki, and the twins Sora and Nami. They all live together and do well as a family, going to the same school and generally being solid kids all around. The problem that exists here is that Aki has a real strong interest in Sora and has been taking advantage of him sexually for some time. Sora does put up a weak defense overall, but there is the simple truth that he’s really into Aki as well and the two are really like a couple in a lot of ways. But they try to hide the sexual side of their relationship from everyone else for obvious reasons, but there’s just such an ease and familiarity between them that people do view them as being much closer than most brothers and sisters would be even without the sexual side.
While Nami doesn’t know what her twin brother is doing, she is very frustrated by the relationship the two have. Especially since a girl she helped at school some time ago, Runa, is very much interested in Sora. And for Nami, that’s just hurtful since she herself is completely into Runa. Sora is oblivious to it for the longest time, being so focused on Aki and hiding their secret – especially since Ak likes to push the boundaries at times – and Nami gets into some interesting situations herself since she comes on to Runa by “dressing up” a bit like Sora to try and get Runa to practice on her for when she can actually get her hands on Sora, providing Runa can actually admit an interest. It’s not exactly convoluted, but over the two episodes there are some definite situations going on that makes it amusing to watch if only because of how some things play out, especially with Nami changing her hairstyle to try and mimic her brother. Runa, for her part, just get confused and is oblivious along the way to Nami’s interest and that just makes it all the more difficult.
With just the two episodes, there’s not exactly a lot of plot here as the whole thing is more about the taboo aspects and the sex itself. The show does go for the sex fairly well here, but it plays it up in a soft core kind of way. While we get a fair bit of upper body nudity, there’s no genitalia involved for those that are looking for that aspect of it. That said, they do have some good fun here and it has more of an erotica feel rather than a porn feeling, though it does engage in a fair bit of sex in different situations and different compromising areas. It’s not hiding the sex, but it’s also straddling the line in a way to try to appeal to more people while not going all hardcore. And in some ways that does add to things here because unlike a lot of what hentai was a few years ago, there’s a least some character material here and a smidgen of a story that makes you want to see how things turn out, which is how I felt at the end here in wanting to see more.
Aki Sora may not be a full on hardcore hentai that some would want, but one thing I always liked about hentai was that just like anime in general, there can be a wide variety to what they do. Aki Sora plays up the taboo stuff pretty well here and it gives you some decent characters to work with, characters that I’ll easily admit that I’d like to see more of and how som eof the motivations came together, but as a two episode show it’s just a glimpse into a particularly dirty little world that most would like to believe never happens. The show has some good character designs, some good eroticism to it and provides an entry into a genre of anime that has been long neglected when it comes to new works. With this Blu-ray edition, it’s almost always a bit hard to say whether an upgrade is worthwhile but I think this one really is for what it gives us in terms of the color quality boost and just how much sharper and clearer it looks on a large screen. It definitely made for a better experience overall and that may vary for others but it made me enjoy it a lot more.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Kitty Media
Release Date: January 30th, 2018
Running Time: 50 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
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.