Strange Love is a two-part anime, centered on the misadventures of the naughty schoolgirl Yoshida Chizuru. Secretly, she's been pursuing an acting career, though students aren't supposed to be taking jobs. Then one of her teachers finds out, and she's intent on doing anything to make sure her plans succeed. Even if it means doing some other things students aren't supposed to...
I'm having a hard time considering this a coherent series, as the two parts of this anime are practically independent of each other in plot and tone.
When you see yet another obscure-but-ecchi-sounding US Manga Corps title on the shelf, you know there's going to be trouble. We should have known this with U-Jin Brand. We sure expected the same thing with Strange Love - I mean, you can just tell by the box cover! Unsympathetic characters, dumb plot, and stereotypical characterization.
And for the entire first half of this OAV, Strange Love does absolutely nothing to deny that impression of itself, as the viewer is subjected to what everyone thought Homeroom Affairs was supposed to be. Some lecherous teacher who's too much of a wimp to take advantage of the bimbo schoolgirl with enormous breasts frolicking around her apartment, and then when he actually tries to get lucky, ends up taken advantage of by her. Then she goes and sleeps with her rock singer boyfriend. Hah. Funny. NOT!
(Yeah, faithful viewer, did you really expect her to be a virgin?)
Then came the second half of the tape - in which Chizuru unexpectedly falls in love. No, not with the cutest guy in class, or the nerdy teacher, or the rock singer she's been sleeping around with. No, that wouldn't be strange. Naw, she's head over heels for the innocent, pretty girl who lives next door to her boyfriend. (Guess all that sleeping around finally got to her head ^_^) This is where all that Strange Love actually gets interesting - the scene in which Chizuru mulls over whether she's truly lesbian and tries to think about the other girls in her class that way ("Ewww!") is actually entertainingly funny, just because she's so candid about it.
And, of course, it all ends in a climactic scene where they end up at the rock singer's place... well, never mind that, I'm not going to spoil it, but it's not your typical ending for an ecchi flick. And thankfully so, even though it doesn't quite rescue this series from being pretty bad anyway. Just the image of two girls running away to elope - pretty ridiculous, isn't it? (These characters are MORONS!!!) Still, it does deliver on one thing promised - it's plenty strange, alright.
If Strange Love had never attempted the standard jailbait hot-for-teacher routine in the first episode, we may have actually given this a remotely decent grade, but it's simply too raunchy and not tongue-in-cheek enough to be really enjoyable until the end. Chizuru's personality does come out, but it's too little, too late. Still, it's more than we expected, which is saying a lot.
If you feel this is worth watching anyway, skip the first episode, and go straight to the second. But it'd probably just be best to skip this tape altogether, as there's certainly way better anime out there.
The extra star's not for the ecchi (you know us better than that!) but for the fact that the second episode was actually mildly entertaining, because the characters acted so incredibly weird — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: Not for kids. The Strange Love in question is not going to sit well with conservatives, but what business would they have renting this anyway? On-screen sex (not as explicit as a true hentai feature, but certainly enough to label this one as ecchi) and numerous other situations preclude any but mature audiences from watching this. Just read the darn box cover, will ya?
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Strange Love © 1997 Oku Hiroya / Shueisha / Toei / Tohoku Shinsha
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