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Step Up Love Story
Reviewer: Aaron Murphy 11/17/2008

Review:
Step Up Love Story (Futari Ecchi) is a romantic comedy that’s not afraid to show the sexual side of newlyweds, as long as it’s above the waist anyway. Makoto and Yura, both 25 year old virgins, have finally tied the knot. They’re both a bit worried about their first time, and when Yura falls asleep on their wedding night, Makoto is more relieved than dismayed. Finally consummating their marriage the next night, Makoto comes up premature, a problem he is determined to fix so that Yura isn’t sexually frustrated in their marriage. After a quick lesson on the finer point of lovemaking from Yura’s promiscuous younger sister Rika, they’re able to solve one of the many marital problems to come. From how to give a proper fellatio to jealousy over Yura taking on a waitressing job, their relationship will be tested and their sexual desires further explored as they meet new couples and learn more about themselves. 
 
It’s tough to dislike Step Up Love Story with its undeniably happy central couple and sweet take on life and love. Makoto and Yura are deeply in love with one another, and are always overly concerned with the thoughts and feelings of their better half. True to most soft-core hentai titles, there’s nothing particularly objectionable and all the characters are very nice and considerate to one another. It’s much like a love fest with sprinklings of problems here and there. Rika is the most interesting of the side characters; almost always shown having sex with one of her many boyfriends. She’s the overprotective type, wanting to make sure that Makoto isn’t just satisfying himself and giving him help and tips along the way. When she’s around things are fairly interesting, because she is either being a sexual deviant or discussing sex due to her vast experience, an experience that always makes Makoto supremely uncomfortable. He’s somewhat of a prude.
 
For how sweet the whole thing is, it’s also quite boring. They’re newlyweds, they have all these little problems in their marriage and sex life, but that’s about it. It’s four episodes, 120 minutes, of nothingness.  No real conflicts or harbingers of doom, just lovely little tales of Makoto and Yura living their new life together. Now I’m sure that’ll be fine for some people, but I found myself eagerly awaiting something to happen, some set of circumstances to change or an actual conflict to arise, but it never did. This is a very real problem for a title like Step Up Love Story, since it has neither the quantity nor quality of sexual content to keep the viewer riveted. The couple intimate scenes they do have in each episode usually don’t last very long, are almost a carbon copy of one another, and as I said before, show nothing below the waist. Now, not showing anything down below is not a kiss of death, one has to only look to a title like Phantom Hunter Miko to see that h-scenes can still be arousing while not being explicit. There’s a fundamental difference here though, Step Up Love Story is not really made to be arousing. It’s a romantic comedy first and foremost, with sex scenes as just another piece of the larger puzzle. So it’s really almost disingenuous to call it a hentai title at all, and I wouldn’t have given its 17+ rating, but after watching it I feel that the content is naughty and abundant enough for it to more accurately fall under the hentai umbrella. That probably proves I am getting too old…
     
Quality of the character designs ranges a bit, though it’s probably more a personal taste issue than a lack of quality issue. Yura was often attractive, but there was something about her that didn’t quite jive with me. (Maybe it’s her enormous bangs!) Her sister, on the other hand, is quite attractive with her spunky dark blue hair and eyes. The most attractive girl I found was Makoto’s old tutoring student, who had a very Rumiko Takahashi look about her. Animation levels were sadly a bit worse than I would have liked, given the level of detail and crispness of the art. Though, with less and shorter sex scenes than normal, one doesn’t really need exceptional animation when people are mostly just talking to one another. The US release is sub only, though it probably would have worked pretty well with a dub. It’s one of those releases where there’s little enough sex to have actually gotten higher quality voice actors in there.   
 
I don’t mean to make it seem as though I didn’t enjoy Step Up Love Story, it has its moments as well as many pretty girls, likable characters, and plenty of heart. The problem lies with a lack of a strong storyline to give the OVA some oomph and an imbalanced amount of sex. Either they needed to do more to appeal to the hentai crowd or less to appeal to the anime fans looking for a romance that actually goes all the way. As it stands, neither group will be sufficiently satisfied. If you’re looking for a sweet love story with much ado about nothing and a real, satisfying romance, you need look no further.   

Miscellaneous:
Rika gave one of her boyfriends a “love slave for a day” coupon for Christmas, which he fully exploits in episode four. What a great gift!

Screenshots
Step Up Love Story
Step Up Love Story
Step Up Love Story
Step Up Love Story
Step Up Love Story
Step Up Love Story
Step Up Love Story
Step Up Love Story
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Review Title:
Step Up Love Story
Alternative Titles:
Futari Ecchi, Futari H
Type:
OVA
Episodes:
4
Duration:
120 Minutes
Aired:
2002-2004
Suitable For:
Adults Only
General Rating:
3 out of 5 stars
Hentai Rating:
2 out of 5 stars
Genres:
Comedy, Romance, Softcore
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