It's not every day that I see a true rarity. Sure, I specialize in finding unique and interesting titles for The Anime Review to make things interesting, but some shows are simply unique. In North America, Putnam Love is certainly that, with no show description or photo anywhere on the web that I could find. In fact, the copy of the show I have is so old that I had to resort to using an old B&W picture from the series that I scrounged out of an old 1988 OVA guide, since I couldn't get a snapshot from the degraded picture! Although The Anime Encyclopedia has an entry for Putnam Love under its alternate name, it's doubtful they ever saw this show before writing up their blurb. If they had, they would have been able to describe a bit more of the wacky sex comedy that entertains while pushing the ragged edge between ecchi and hentai material.
The episode I saw was not the first, but the fourth, though the backstory made little difference to what was going on. Even with my limited Japanese skills, things are easily understood. In this episode, a high school class is going out on a skiing expedition, accompanied by a couple of teachers as chaperones. While their male counterparts are doing kendo training in thongs out in the snow, a group of three girls quickly hits the slopes, pushing the limits of acceptable behavior. Whether it's cavorting half-naked in the snow, blackmailing their teachers, or spying on the guys, they're into trouble. But there's a secret to the lodge in which they're staying...hundreds of years ago, a samurai massacre occurred on the grounds, and everyone thinks the chateau is haunted. Of course, they start playing tricks on one another, but the scary ghost stories might turn out to be real...or not.
What the show has in spades is cute, even if it is raunchy. Putnam Love was directed by Minoru Okazaki of Dragonball Z and Dragonball GT fame, and Masaki Kajishima of Tenchi Muyo worked on the animation, so it's got a good pedigree. It actually has a plot lying under the Hot Dog: The Movie style antics. And even without translation, there's definitely a romantic triangle vibe going on. The animation isn't stupendous, but it's not bad to look at either. There are also plenty of visual gags that, though dated, still work. I laughed in a few spots, and I certainly wasn't bored.
The problem is that the whole of the nudity is pretty ridiculous. I mean, when the girls are on the slopes, one of them simply says, "I'm too hot!" Thus, a stripdown follows. In the middle of a snowbank. Yeah. The whole thing is pretty much like that, and so it has little credibility despite its attempts at having a real story. The sexuality of the piece is pretty front and center, and there are some steamy moments, even though there is no actual hanky-panky in at least the episode I saw. Your attitude towards those might be different from mine, but I saw no point to it. There's also the issue of the gore that shows up. Yes, we get to see in detail some gross stuff from the supposed slaughter, but it's out of place with the other comedy.
Putnam Love is confused as to what it wants to be. It wants to be really sexy, but it stops short of being something you'd take home in a brown paper bag. It wants to be on the cutting edge, but the cutting edge winds up shaving the audience. It wants to be funny, but the gags are running a little old. It works best when the comedy works and things are cute, less so when it tries to do it all at once. It ultimately winds up as a sexualized though entertaining ripoff of shows like Orange Road. Of course, this show is actually very good considering its main purpose was to get horny adolescents to buy or rent videotapes back in the late 80s. But still, that's not saying much.
Putnam Love -- mild violence, gore, nudity and strong sexual content -- B-