Call Me Tonight is a lesser-known OVA from the mid-80s, created by Studio AIC back when they were still relatively new to the anime scene. It was produced by the rookie director Tatsuya Okamoto and written by Bubblegum Crisis creator Toshimichi Suzuki. That sounds like a recipe for mediocrity—I certainly wasn’t expecting much based on Okamoto’s other work—making it quite a surprise that Call Me Tonight turned out to be super interesting.
The story revolves around a group of girls who run a mysterious Telephone Club called “Madonna”. Instead of having men sit around in a booth and receiving calls from young women, Madonna goes the other way around; the girls are all gathered together in an office building and take turns receiving calls from men who want to flirt with them. However, amusing their horny customers is only a front for the girls’ true objective: finding people who suffer from paranormal phenomena.
One such customer turns out to be the romantically-inexperienced Ryo Sugiura, who claims that he turns into a literal monster whenever he masturbates. Rumi Natsumi is dispatched to investigate this mystery by going on a date with Ryo. A date that turns ugly fast when she discover that his condition is much more severe than she could have ever anticipated.
Call Me Tonight is a character-driven mystery story fist and foremost, which tackles eroticism in an interesting way. Rumi is determined to find out the truth about Ryo’s affliction, so she forces him through all kinds of comedic and erotic ordeals. She seduces him, forces him to read naughty magazines, takes him to watch hentai movies, all of which leads to trouble as Ryo transforms and begins tearing up the place.
The OVA does feature actual nudity and the relationship between its characters is risque as well, but it’s definitely not a hentai movie or even an ecchi one. Eroticism is effectively used here as a theme of the story, so the nudity and sex feels like it naturally belongs within that context.
The anime feels in many places like a traditional short horror OVA, thanks in large part to its artstyle and direction. Because of this, Ryo’s monster transformations bring to mind gore-tastic works like Toshio Maeda‘s output. However, here too Call me Tonight shows restraint. Ryo might occasionally turn into a betentacled behemoth, but this isn’t used to splatter some fools or violate any helpless maidens. I admire their commitment to not sully the OVA’s story by cramming in any gratuitous violence, as so many of its contemporaries were wont to do.
With that said, Call Me Tonight is admittedly not the most visually impressive work of its time and its brief, 30-minute runtime does fly by fast. It felt like I got a whole lot more out of if than that runtime would imply, but I wish there was more of it.