Maze [2000]

This two-part OAV (original animation video) attempts to mix a sword-and-sorcery adventure with slapstick sexual comedy, but the elements fail to gel into a coherent story or tone. The title character is a voluptuous woman by day, but a lecherous male by night--a premise no stranger than Ranma 1/2, but the filmmakers fail to use it as effectively. The battles orchestrated by the villainous Gorgeous and his sinister brother are too violent for the broad comedy that follows and vice versa. Lina and Nahga jiggle their way through fights, but they don't shed blood or kill people. Much of the supposed comedy reflects the disparity between attitudes toward sex in America and Japan. When Maze in her male form attempts to rape Mix, the Princess of Babylon, it may play as comic in Japan, but American viewers will find it off-putting. Similarly, having Randy, the wee fairy, take up residence in Maze's cleavage presents a little too much gratuitous nudity. In the bonus Maze TV series episode, the title character is a modern college student who is somehow transported to the Forest of Panon. Her house falls on the demi-human pursuing Mill, like Dorothy landing on the Wicked Witch. The ensuing adventures are a lot tamer, but not appreciably more coherent. "Parental discretion advised." Episodes include: 1. "Bold and Wonderful Challenger," 2. "Bold and Radical Adventure," 3. "A Stranger Lost in Random Space." Suitable for ages 18 up: nudity, attempted rape, sexual humor, sexual situations, suggestions of lesbianism, profanity, violence. --Charles Solomon

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