I’m not really sure I agree that Hen, aka Strange Love is really hentai…but as it’s usually lumped in with the “adult” anime, I guess I should. What it *is* is a very funny, and sometimes touching romantic comedy starring two mismatched girls, from a distinctly seinen perspective.
Hen is the story of extremely well-endowed high school student Yoshida Chizuru. Despite the fact that she’s under age, Chizuru has a part-time job modeling, on account of her exceptional looks. The first part of the anime and the manga is incredibly dumb, as Chizuru seduces/outsmarts a pervy substitute teacher. The fun begins when a cute, very childish girl moves in next door to Chizuru’s boyfriend’s, rock star Hiro Yuki’s, apartment.
At first, Chizuru dislikes little Azumi; snubs her, makes fun of her, etc…but after a few days, she realizes that she’s begun to obsess about Azumi. (This leads to some highly amusing scenes in the anime, as Chizuru tries fantasizing about other schoolmates, to see if she is, perhaps, gay after all.) In a life-changing realization, Chizuru decides that she *is* in love with Azumi, and will marry her, despite the obstacles.
The anime ends at this point, but the manga goes on and on and on…. There’s a ton of really silly stuff that happens, some more bizarre than others, and everything, except Chizuru’s emotions, are played for laughs. There are a couple of touching scenes as well.
Is this a series worth watching? I think so. The OVA is only two episodes, but there are some really funny moments that make it worth owning.
The manga is *definitely* worth having. But, beware – there are two Hen manga, one that is Yuri, one that is BL…and they coincide at some point in both stories, so it’s a little confusing. It’s probably easiest to remember it this way – the Yuri Hen is the one with white spines, the BL has the colored spines. The Yuri Hen is 8 volumes, the BL Hen is 13 volumes…if you’re a completist, you’ll want those too, to get *all* of Chizuru and Azumi’s story.
By the way – the series, despite everything, *does* have a happy ending, as Chizuru and Azumi fly off together “to America,” which we all know is manga code for “to have a happy lesbian relationship.” ^_^
The art is really…odd, and the characters have awful ears, there is much fanservice, breast and panty shots, but if you look past the surface, this is really a very sweet series.