A hot springs journalist. A horny concert pianist. A tutor who reads into situations too much. A career woman feeling the pressures of bachelorette-hood. These are the stories of men and women looking for love, be it a one-night fling or something to ignite the dormant fires of passion, and the unusual forces that help bring them together. Is it fate? Destiny? Good, old-fashioned alcohol? That’s not for us to determine but rather enjoy as we watch them experience various throes of lust and even, a little bit of romantic love. I’ve been plumbing the delightfully depraved depths of hentai quite a bit lately, exploring new fetishes and kinks that paint a clearer portrait of my own personal sexual expressions. And while I’m down to clown with bondage and gender-swapping, there are moments where all I really want is a fun, cozy romance. Shikoyaka naru Toki mo Hameru Toki mo is an anthology series comprised of four, non-connected short stories featuring regular people at the center of often-unbelievable happenstances who give in to their indulgences without hurting their partners, either physically or emotionally.
Our first story concerns the near-magical encounter between a travel journalist and two ladies looking for a good time. Our inquisitive fellow braves a snowy forest in search of a legendary hot spring said to have been hidden in the hills of Japan for over a hundred years. And just like the Room of Requirement, the spring appears before his very eyes! Basking in the utter luxury of a sulfur enriched spring, his quiet solace is interrupted by two gorgeous women who appear from out of nowhere – and wearing very little! These women cozy up to the young man, invariably breaking the sexual taboo of hot springs but he is too captivated by the voluptuousness of these two eager gals who easily coerce him into a hot and heavy threesome. The story ends on a humorous note, as the circumstances surrounding the hot spring may not be as magical as we were led to believe.
The second story concerns the personal plight of Kario, a working woman feeling a common social pressure as friends and coworkers all around her get married, an act she has cast aside to achieve her career goals. And yet, being bombarded by wedding announcements and honeymoon vacations have begun to take a toll, causing Kario to question her life choices. Making her feel even more despondent is the self-perception of her age, harshly believing that no man would ever want to get into a relationship, let alone marry, a thirty-two-year-old woman. While drinking her woes away, she bumps into her subordinate, Jodou, who is happy to lend a caring ear. Their conversation goes long into the night and as a consequence, they both miss the last train home. Kario suggests they find a hotel to stay the night–a love hotel, no less! Despite being quick to point out that she’s not like those “other” bosses who sleep with their staff, both Kario and Jodou can’t help but get caught up in the atmosphere.
Our third entry in the collection features an unexpected sexual encounter with a beautiful musician. While hanging out during a concert afterparty, our male protagonist–who normally doesn’t have time for such get-togethers–is one of many drawn to the inherent beauty of Takemoto Madoka, the orchestra’s talented pianist. This lovely woman, who rushes straight home after practice, has a bit of a reputation over her “naughty switch” which causes her to lose her inhibitions and have sex with the first guy she sees. Greatly upset by this news, our main character literally flees the party to find solace in the concert hall after his vision of the angelic, “unsullied” Takemoto is thoroughly dashed. He takes out his frustrations with an epic, Whiplash-worthy drum solo that intensifies after Takemoto appears and jams with him on the piano. The woman shares that she indeed ran off with a couple of guys but got bored with them and had intended to return to the party for another shot at some action. Proving the rumors true, Takemoto takes complete control of the situation and proceeds to give our protagonist a lot of special attention.
And now we come to the final short story in this collection of erotic funny business and it’s a classic one: the boy and his sexy female tutor. Normally, this fun scenario plays out in a formulaic way: the student is struggling with school and the tutor sent to help them out uses sex as a motivator. In this case, the lovely Kyouko has been hired to assist Shima Jirou, the stuck-up son of a wealthy family. The thing is, Shima already excels in his studies but ends up manipulating Kyouko into doing some naughty things every time he scores well on a test. It’s an odd arrangement and Shima doesn’t hold much power over her. Instead, he offers to keep paying for Kyouko’s services in exchange for a little lewd play. It begins innocently enough but soon escalates into Shima wanting to see her panties. This triggers Kyouko’s overactive imagination and in her head, this triggers a sequence of tawdry events that ends with her becoming Shima’s personal sex slave. In a hilarious twist, Kyouko discovers that the panty viewing has caused Shima to fail several of his exams as he was too excited to study. This proves to be a source of great annoyance to Kyouko and complains that she spent the better part of the day trying to find a matching set of underwear thinking that Shima would escalate his demands. All’s well that ends well, as Kyouko and Shima (who might not be such a bad guy after all) get to have a little fun.
Anthologies can be a tricky format. I’ve experienced my fair share of collections where some stories are often better than others or the shifts in tone are jarring enough to cause whiplash. In the case of Shikoyaka naru Toki mo Hameru Toki mo, all four vignettes are pretty strong! If I had to pick a favorite, it’d be a tie between the threesome at the hot springs (if nothing else because the setting was so enchanting) and the final story because of its silly twist. However, I admit that I was a little disappointed with the animation. I like to call this stuff out when I review animated hentai because there are more than a few animation studios with a reputation for fantastic erotic animation. Sadly, Shikoyaka naru Toki mo Hameru Toki mo doesn’t have the same smooth, high-quality finish as Bunnywalker and Antechinus. The character’s movements are stiff, repetitive, and lack the extra frames of animation to create more life-like movements. Most Queen Bee productions tend to have this shortcoming, unfortunately. The trade-off, though, is that we are treated to some fantastic character designs. Both the women and men in these stories are beautiful and handsome and it’s clear that the camera is in love with them given the frequency of slow pans and lingering shots that give us plenty of time to admire genuinely sexy cartoon characters.
Shikoyaka naru Toki mo Hameru Toki mo might not have great animation but its stories contained are fun, cute, romantic, and sultry. It may be super vanilla but I wager that folks with even the most depraved erotic tastes could watch this and still find it charming.