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October 24, 2010

Movie Review: Blackmail (Box Set)

Originally released in Japan in 2000, Blackmail, content-wise, is most definitely an acquired taste. Lush colors, brilliant transfer and good animation aren’t enough to wash the degradation and humiliation storyline out and it pummels away with a constant barrage of unsettling images.
Like all of Nutech’s box set releases, Blackmail features a beautiful color slip case (slightly marred by the “Totally Uncensored” emblazoned across it) housing the three-disc set, each in their own keep case and each featuring one of the main characters. The audio on the discs is available in English & Japanese (both in Dolby Stereo) with optional English subtitles. Like the other Nutech releases, two of the character voices are performed by American adult film actresses. This time we are treated to the vocal stylings of Tabitha Stevens and Misty Rain. Blackmail features a very nice digital transfer that looks to be computer colored additionally.

Bonus features include the standard anime and voice actress still galleries, Nutech trailers and website information. In addition, and a nice added touch, there is a short live-action featurette/documentary on Misty Rain that is worth a look or two.
Blackmail is set in a Japanese school and deals with the oversexed love lives of a group of students. Ryousuke Kamimura is the most popular boy in school. He confesses to Asuka his love for her. Consequently, Asuka tells her best friend, Aya (Misty Rain) and others. Aya, dejected, once had feelings for Ryousuke but pledges her support for her friend.
Aya then receives a strange letter from Yumiko (Tabitha Stevens). Inside the letter is a pornographic picture of Asuka and a note threatening to show the picture to Ryousuke. Asuka is shamed and, due to her love and support of her friend, Aya must follow in that same shame. Through flashbacks, we learn that Yumiko and Aya were both taken advantage of in a karaoke bar with one of them forced to videotape while the other was violated. They then went their separate ways, never to speak of the incident, until Yumiko returned for her vengeance.
With Yumiko are several male cronies who assist her in the humiliation and vengeance against Aya and anyone she is close to. Yumiko uses these men to take advantage of all of Aya’s friends, specifically Asuka, in many non-consensual scenes. Yumiko then uses the video and pictures taken to blackmail (hence the title) her victims into bringing her more unwilling sexual puppets. Blackmail builds to a neverending cycle of degradation.
Sometimes shocking, many times unsettling, Blackmail features a series of sexual encounters that are, on the whole, non-consensual in every sense of the word. As stated before, not even the very good animation, obviously large production values and attractive presentation can make Blackmail anything more than a nasty little story wrapped in a pretty animated box. Yumiko is a despicable villain and our heroine and friends come off as more worthy of our pity than our cheers for them to overcome.
Blackmail is definitely an acquired taste. Personally, I find no redeeming value in forced sexual situations and had a difficult time with this piece. In addition, many of those situations were made doubly worse by the acts that the characters were forced to commit. If this is your cup of tea, then I can recommend Blackmail wholeheartedly. If not, I would avoid this set.

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