In 1998 winter, another world happens to come to existence in me, though I used to be a normal student. It is covering my ordinary life as the snow covers the ground. Until then, I haven't noticed, what has stayed unchanged in my daily life, the familiar scenes that have always been there, the warmth of the person whom I haven't noticed that I love her.
They have existed to bind me in this world in order not to let me leave.
It is the moment when I begin look for the bind and the significant person, for the first time. The time goes, and the sun gradually begins to shine the season. I wonder where I will be, and who will grip my hand.
One: Kagayaku Kisetsu e - True Stories: Completely Fictional
This title is a lie! These are not true stories! On top of that, One? There is not just one love interest. There are three. Get it right, Arms! At any rate, wow...I'm reviewing TWO hentai in less than 24 hours? It's times like these that I ask myself, "are you lonely? Are you desperate?" lol, I'm only kidding. In all honesty, I wanted to knock these out before the spring anime season hits hard. For those that are wondering what I'm talking about, I watched and reviewed Suika before watching this and I mentioned on my
list that I'd at least want to try seeing at least a few hentai with a decent story and decent characters.
Anyway, back to the review. One: True Stories is an alternative re-telling to One: Kagayaku Kisetsu e, which in turn is an adaptation of the visual novel of the same name. If you haven't played the VN or watched the prior OVA, you're not missing much. In fact, you don't need to watch those at all if you want to pick up on what's happening in True Stories. Don't be deceived by the "sequel" listing on MAL either because...well, that's a lie. Calling this a "sequel" would be about the equivalent of calling Kanon (2006) a sequel to Kanon. It's not, plain and simple.
The story of One: True Stories revolves around a high school boy named Kouhei Orihara. Kouhei seems to be your normal goofy high schooler who has an obsession about sleeping wherever he can and often teases his friend Mizuka Nagamori. However, he has daydreams and realizations that he is in a world in which he shouldn't exist and he becomes troubled by the thoughts that he will disappear someday and those closest to him will forget about him. As the series progresses, Kouhei develops a few relationships, but at the same time, the relationships he forms will only bring him more heartache to his apparently fading existence.
I found the strengths to True Stories was in its character design and script writing. If anyone goes into this wondering if the characters might seem familiar in their design, well...you might be right. The original character design is by none other than Itaru Hinoue. The same Hinoue that brought us Air, Clannad, Kanon, and Little Busters. I actually have to be honest, I thought One was actually one of his better design works, which is somewhat comical considering how renowned series like Clannad and Kanon have become. The script was written by Tetsuro Oishi, who I have to wonder if he's using a fake name because this is the only work I saw him accredited toward. I found the script to be very good and I'd be amazed if this is his only script work. The overall direction and writing for this story was surprisingly good, one of the best I've ever seen in a hentai. I found this series had a nice mix of comedy, romance, and drama. In my experience, it usually seems like most hentai series have a hard time being able to mix the genres as well as this series did. Hell, even if you're going into it for the sex, the scenes are still pretty good in that regard. At least they are romantic sex scenes and I wouldn't say there is any forced rape (Thank God for no tentacle rape! Hallelujah!).
Where One: True Stories falls a little short is unfortunately, also within the writing. While I commended how well this OVA was written, I also felt the writing staff didn't do a good enough job of explaining who or what Kouhei is and I found his daydreams only made the OVAs more confusing than clarifying. Then again, I'll give True Stories this...it did a much better job than its predecessor. Another area I found True Stores to be a bit lacking in is that it seemed to rush the relationships a bit. Maybe not so much with Mizuka since the two built a rapport through the series, but it definitely felt rushed with Misaki and Akane. Of course, it's only natural since we're dealing with a three episode OVA based off a VN, but I didn't feel the transitions within the relationships to be handled quite the best.
I never thought I'd say this, but I actually found this to be one of Arms best works...and that's coming from someone who has seen Elfen Lied, Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, Mezzo Forte, and Kite. I'd even go so far as to say that its highly underrated. It makes me sad that something like Queen's Blade gets higher ratings than this. Then again, it's pretty hard to get invested in the MAL ratings in general since they seem highly inflated for some series and extremely deflated for others. For those who are concerned about the "hentai" or "pornography" title in regards to this series, it's pretty short and to the point. The sex scenes in each episode generally last 3-5 minutes of the 30 minute episodes, so it doesn't interfere with the story too much. With the exception being the last episode, they don't occur until at least the 20 minute mark of each episode, so it's not like your typical "oooh, I see pretty girl, let's screw" like you see in many hentai. They do actually try and build a relationship with the leads before going that route...although, like I said, it does still feel a bit rushed at times.
Now the question remains, who would I recommend this to? Well, anyone that likes a series like Clannad, Kanon, or Air that is looking for something a little more hardcore. It's sort of natural to say that since it comes from the same character designer...and in fact, Itaru Hinoue's designs for this actually lead to his works for Key. It's actually a little hard to believe that his work for One: Kagayaku Kisetsu e were followed by Air, Kanon, Clannad, and Little Busters. Strange how this world works, huh? While I wouldn't call this a classic like Clannad or Kanon, I will say that this is one of the best hentai OVAs you could watch. The story is pretty good, the characters are pretty likable, and it isn't watered down with horrendous amounts of sex and ecchi. There does seem to be an honest to God effort put toward this, which is more than I can say for hentai in general and hell, it's even better than its "prequel"/alternative re-telling, One: Kagayaku Kisetsu e. How often do you see a hentai alternative re-telling fair better than the non-hentai predecessor? That's rare...REALLY rare.
If you're going into this just out of perversion, I'd say you could do better. However, if you're looking for a decent romantic story to go with your perversion, than I'd call this a solid watch. If you're just looking for a good romantic drama, then I think you would be better off watching the aforementioned Clannad or Kanon (2006) series if you haven't already. However, this isn't a bad waste of an hour-and-a-half if you're looking to try something new.