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One of anime's most notorious serials, and, though only a third of the episodes were translated into English, it is one of the most significant shows of the 1980s. CL wasn't the first erotic anime video (that was the similar Lolita Anime), but the brand survived for over a decade as an umbrella for several subseries, eventually becoming synonymous with anime pornography. The original spanned 16 episodes, followed by assorted specials, the nine-part New CL, and two epilogues, shuffled here into some semblance of order.
Its first and biggest star was Ami Nonomura, an 11-year-old girl who seduces her older brother, Hiroshi, in Be My Baby (#1). When Hiroshi is banished to London in Ami Again (#5), an older but hardly wiser Ami dreams that she is having sex with him again, only to wake and discover that she is drunk in bed with a stranger. Hiroshi returns in Now I Embrace You Ami (#13) only to tell her that the affair is over, at which point she returns to the arms of her one-night stand. The 1986 movie CL: Ami's Journey came next, in which her friends drag her off to Hokkaido to take her mind off things. Shown on a double bill with the first Project A-Ko movie, the film was noticeably more mainstream than its erotic predecessors, and, surprisingly for a theatrical version, of lower-grade animation. Ami becomes an idol singer, squeezing in a clandestine tryst with Hiroshi when her entourage passes through London. Her adventures ended in the mini-series Ami: From Then On (#31-34), in which Ami is forced to choose between Hiroshi and her fiancé, eventually choosing neither and electing to stay single. Ami's adventures eventually reached the U.S. in 2001, as Be My Honey, The Story of Ami, In the Midst of Sadness, and Ami's Climax.
In Escalation (#2), the bisexual Rie is banished to a strict Catholic school when she is found in bed with her piano teacher. Predictably, she soon ends up in a lesbian ménage à trois with her roommate, Midori, and dominated in a series of power games by the senior girl Naomi. After graduation, Naomi would invite the girls to her mansion for a repeat performance (#6), and the girls would return in a third installment (#16) to initiate a new recruit.
SF Legend Rall (#3) is a space fantasy in which Carol, an underdressed, sword-wielding warrior-maid, stands against an evil overlord who intends to sacrifice the beautiful Princess Orgasma. She would take up the call to adventure in Lamo Ru Strikes Back (#15). Both episodes were distributed in the U.S. as Gonad the Barbarian and The Search for Uranus in the Brothers Grime animation series.
Pop Chaser (#4) was directed by Project A-Ko's Yuji Moriyama under the pseudonym Yuji Motoyama and has early designs by Hiroyuki Kitakubo. It features interstellar Wild-West lesbian antics inside a giant robot suit, as biker chick Rio liberates her woman from a rival gang only to discover that the distressed damsel has agreed to marry the leader. Under the title Offenders of the Universe, it was combined with Star Trap (#10), an unrelated Star Trek spoof starring the lesbian crew of the USS Mischief, and released in the U.S. as another two-part video.
Don't Do It Mako: Sexy Symphony (#7 and #12) presaged Sprite by introducing a timid girl possessed by a knowing, sexual personality-the quintessence of the CL series in its assurance that inside every child, there is a sex kitten waiting to get out. In another mainstream cameo, it was directed by Iczer-One's Toshihiro Hirano.
Further sci-fi antics awaited in Super Virgin (#8, aka Super Virgin Groupies) in which another Mako, a psychic, falls in love with one of the schoolboys who torment her. It was followed by another one-shot, Happening Summer (#9, aka Travelling Fantasies), in which naughty Yuki seduces her big sister's boyfriend-a man who, in a series in-joke, is found reading a porn magazine featuring photographs of Escalation's Naomi.
In Black Cat Manor (#11), student Masaki leaves wartime Tokyo to escape the bombings, staying with the widow Saiko, her daughter, and maid. When the CL series eventually ground to a halt in 1993, it would be with Return to Black Cat Manor (#36).
Parodying Project A-Ko and foreshadowing Kekko Kamen, Nalice Scramble (#14), which closed the first season of CL, features a heroine in battle armor fighting three lesbian Nazis for control of a school. It was back immediately in 1987 with New CL, a straightforward continuation of some of the earlier stories with a few new one-shots and an increased concentration on the artwork and manga origins. Five-Hour Venus (#17), for example, was one of several shows by "To Moriyama," a pseudonym for Dance Till Tomorrow's Naoki Yamamoto. Heroine Shimeji is blackmailed into posing nude for an art class when her porn past is revealed, and she would return in Afterschool XXX (#18) to save a younger classmate from a similar fate.
The supernatural began to take over with White Shadow (#19), in which a gymnast is possessed by a demon and seduces the boy who loves her. For Visions of Europe (#20), taken from Toshiki Yui's Mermaid Junction manga, two frisky female tourists lose their passports and money at the airport and are whisked off to an alternate Europe where passion rules. Kei Amaki's Cherry Melancholy (#21) has a couple of man-hunting girls giving up the chase and settling for each other, but the series soon returned to fantasy with Astalot (#22), a tale of swords and sorcery with the requisite sex, running almost twice as long as most other videos in the series. A boy finds a gun in I Guess So (#23) and uses it to compel a girl to have sex with him, while in Dream-Colored Bunny (#24), a trip to the pet shop nets a sexy companion for one lucky pervert.
The Dark (#25), based on a story by Nicholas Lloyd, features two men offered shelter by a woman in a castle, where she seduces and kills one of them, a priest. This episode, Magic Doll (#26), in which a kindly man is tempted away from his family by a sexy ghost, and the aforementioned Black Cat Manor (under the title The Black Widow) were compiled into the feature-length Pandora: An Erotic Adventure in the U.S. Similar supernatural goings-on await in Summer Wind (#27) for a bereaved boyfriend who meets a girl named Mina (like the heroine of Beast City, a reference to Dracula).
E-tude (#28 and #29) is a classic star-crossed romance between the genteel pianist Yurika and the rough tough jazz-playing biker Ryo, who are separated by her father and set up with new partners only to long for each other. Heartbreak Live for Two (#30) parodies magical-girl shows like Creamy Mami as a fox grants a lovelorn girl's wish to become the idol singer that the boy she loves so adores. Angie and Rose (#35), the tale of a boy seduced by a Canadian mother and daughter, came out as a bonus for the CL: Climax boxed set in 1992, but that is by no means all there was. The Ami series also boasts the Ami Graffiti digest edition and the Ami: White Shadow teaser for the movie. Other abridgments include CL Junior, which cut a third of each episode's running time to survive in a tougher censorship climate. The series was repackaged again with two episodes per tape as CL Twin (aka CL Best Coupling), which is the version now on DVD. There are also several versions arranged by artist rather than story, collecting the "best" works from To Moriyama, Kei Amaki, and Toshiki Yui. Festival, a compilation of To Moriyama shorts, also appeared in the U.S. as The Story of Toh, although as with many of these variant listings, we have been unable to determine if they were licensed releases. In 2005, the franchise also appeared as two live-action movies, Nobuhiro Yamashita's Cream Lemon, and Iwao Takahashi's Cream Lemon: Ami's Diary. LNV