Anime Review: Hen Zemi OVA Episode 1

(Originally published on Livejournal on 11/6/10)

Anime Review:
Hen Zemi

What this is about: I made the promise that I would review every new subtitled anime show (excluding blatant yaoi and/or porn) released during the Spring and Summer 2010 seasons, so now I am going back to review a handful of shows that I missed over the past few months for one reason or another. This time around, it’s Hen Zemi (HENtai Abnormal Physiology SEMInar), the first of two planned OVAs based on the risque manga, released on July 23rd.

tl;dr review: College course focuses on sexually deviant behavior; Nanako gets shocked and embarrassed over and over again.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size:

Episode 1-3 Summary: Nanako is just your average college student who decides to enroll in an Abnormal Physiology class. But what she does not realize is the course taught by the sadistic Dr. Meshiya focuses on some of the most unusual and deviant sexual behaviors. Not only that, but all the other students are world-class perverts with their own special fetishes… and so begins Nanako’s exploration of real-life examples of unspeakable perversions, and as the only “normal” person in the group, she ends up acting as the “control”. The one-shot original video animation contains three short stories involving underwear thieves, coprophilia, and netorare. I won’t spoil the stories, other than to say each one includes some sort of twist where Nanako ends up alternately speechless, disgusted, surprised and/or shell-shocked.

My Thoughts: Pushing the boundaries of good taste? Yeah, well, if you consider throwing an anvil through a barrier of wet tissue paper pushing boundaries. The bit involving (thankfully only alluded, not shown!) feces-eating was truly disgusting, and as I explained in my rejection of the early episodes of Mitsudomoe humor based on the disgusting is most definitely NOT my cup of tea. But where this show really shines is in the priceless expressions of Nanako, who is perpetually being whipsawed from one extreme to the other. She really is the “control subject” in more ways than one, also serving as a control for the viewer, an island of sanity in a sea of hentai.

This is not an X-rated show, but be prepared for some questionable stuff, and definitely do NOT eat anything beforehand or during the show. As a one-off special*, Hen Zemi is worth watching for the pure shock factor and for Nanako’s reactions (in the closing sequence she’s staggering in complete shock, naked, through a field of pins, a perfect analogy for surviving the episode). But if it was a series? I really don’t think they could keep topping themselves with a different “perversion of the week”, and humor based solely on the single-note of Nanako’s embarrassment/shock/surprise/anger would get tiring fast. (P.S. The production values and character designs are pretty neat, too. Going through hundreds of thumbnails in progression I was impressed at their use of solid colors as expressive themes throughout the show.)

*(actually, a second special is also planned in the indefinite future.)

The Verdict:

For more info:

Star Crossed Anime Blog review: http://psgels.blogsome.com/2010/07/22/ova-impressions-hen-zeni/
My Anime List Entry: http://myanimelist.net/anime/8101/Hen_Zemi
Video of opening theme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lkcXXA991Y
Creator Tagro scolds downloaders: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2010-08-18/hen-zemi-tagro-addresses-illegally-streamed-videos

Up Next for Spring and Summer 2010 shows: ToHeart2: adNext (OVA), Kaichou wa Maid-sama (25-26), Occult Academy (13), Legend of Legendary Heroes (13-15), Agriculture Angel Baraki (1), Super Street Fighter IV (OVA), Bungaku Shoujo (Movie)

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