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 Post subject: Dorei Ichiba
PostPosted: April 2nd, 2008, 3:38 pm 
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Location: Trier, Germany
Known as "Slave Market" in the west.

Before I can say anything about the contents I have to talk about the historic matters which present the setting of the series.

Given Japanese pronunciation, the protagonist is sent to an imperial city named "Konstantinobaale", which features a palace that looks very much like the Hagia Sophia. The year 1618 is mentioned as the first year of a conflict named the "Eastern Seven Years War" against the homeland of the protagonist, Venice (if I understood correctly, plus the ambassador has a ring that displays the Venetian winged Lion, just without the book).

That said, similarities to Constantinople are obvious, by 1618 firmly in the hands of the Ottoman Empire, for centuries the toughest enemy of the Christian states in Europe, including Venice, which was long the only Italian state strong enough to withstand kingdoms like France or empires like the Ottoman's.
The Ottoman Empire and Venice indeed had their Seven Year War, but it occured in 1423, thirty years before the Turks finally conquered the remnants of the Eastern Empire - Constantinople that is. The 17th century seems to have been rather quiet for Venice, despite disputes with the Holy See.

You might say that this story is neither fantasy nor historic, but a hybrid.
I don't know how this is supposed to create a benefit for the stories told, but considering the usual understanding of the Japanese of history it's probably just due to the mood of the creator without deeper meaning. I guess he just wanted a Renaissance-like setting in a place both exotic and decadent, where cultures clash.

So our protagonist, Cassius, a young and handsome staff officer from Venice, is on an intelligence mission to Konstantinobaale, officially working for the Venetian embassy. Just after his arrival his resident friend Falco picks him up and shows him the slave market, where girls can be purchased for the customers' pleasures.

In the first story, Cassius buys a Romanian girl named Bianca, who confuses him with her long lost brother, calling him "o-Nii-tama" ("Tama" is not for "sphere" in this case, but a childish pronunciation of "-sama" - compare the suffix "-tan"). Cassius has no interest in treating her like a slave and sees that she has a good time, although realizing that he feels strangely drawn towards her. But he is not the only one interested Bianca. A horribly burned (?) humanoid with superior physical power shows up looking for her.
When the creature breaks into Bianca's room, Cassius decides to take her into protective custody - for whatever reason, the house that he inhabits has a dungeon room. Bianca resists being kept there because she is afraid of dark places.
And Cassius has a dark side. Usually being a nice guy he also has a tendency to possess and control. Bianca's resistance causes his anger, he enchains her and rapes her several times, before the creature shows up again for a paranormal showdown of episode one.

Although he thought he'd never do it again, Cassius for a second time enters the gates of the slave market in episode two. His superior agrees with this habit of his, since someone who buys slaves gives the impression of someone who plans to settle down, instead of being a temporary visitor.
The second girl is Cecilia. Again he does not want a slave, he just wanted to rescue her from the slavers, and again, someone else is interested in the girl. Two mercenaries are also searching the place for her.
After a while Cecilia opens to Cassius and briefs him on her past life (most parts of which the audience learns in the introduction of the episode): She was peasant royalty from Lombardia and her parents sold her to a prince, officially an arranged marriage. But the prince used her to gain sexual experience for his real fiancée, and after a while she gave birth to a daughter. Both were sold to pirates and the pirates sold the little girl, separating her from her mother.
It turns out that the mercenaries have found the girl and want to reunite her with Cecilia. But Cassius, his possessive self, refuses to let her go. He incarcerates her in the cellar and has his way with her, until two parties of uninvited visitors end the episode. About to be killed for his behavior ("We don't forgive people who make ladies cry"), Cassius is saved by Cecilia saying "He may be a bad man, but there was a time when he was kind."

The third episode follows a different pattern. Buying a third girl, Mia, who was injured at the throat in order to mute her, Cassius immediately takes her to the cellar and puts her to the third degree. Having lost two girls he fell in love with, he feels tired of being hurt and wants to put inconvenient emotions aside.
But again the girl has a mysterious past. It seems she belonged to a clan of assassins (hinting at the Hashshashin) who had largely been ennihilated by the Mongols 400 years earlier. Again, Cassius is disturbed in his doings in the cellar by uninvited guests and if it wasn't for Mia he'd probably been killed.
The series ends with the confirmed outbreak of war.

I was reluctant to watch this series since I do not expect much more than rape, chains and torture from a title that has the word "slave" in it, it's usually lower than "maid" titles, but I was interested in the quasi-historical setting.

It's a bit hard to swallow, I admit. The series shows two detailed scenes of defecation (not in a direct sexual context though, apart from the girls being naked), one scene of severe urine abuse, and the second episode shows the most despicable act of a penetration that I have ever seen, which achieved something very unusual: I felt compassion. Which hardly happens when it comes to Hentai characters.

The immoral behavior of the protagonist, if you want to call him so, often made me wish someone would just kill him, but he's not just a mindless rapist. He actually has a conscience, reflects upon his behavior, and regrets his acts. Too late, but he does. His twisted nature makes him interesting somehow.

"Dorei Ichiba" has three episodes of 30 minutes, telling interesting stories centering around the respective girl, whereas the game, which the OVA is based on, seems to feature four girls. Animation is on a good level, graphics and character design are very good, and I would like to praise character depiction, at least in the case of Cassius. Voice acting is very good, too, although Bianca is a bit high-pitched imho.
There's also an interesting soundtrack. The ending song "to lose in amber", sung by Shimamiya Eiko ("I've sound"), is a very nice piece of music and adds to the overall quality of the series.

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