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Katsuni's Ancient Secrets

Studio: Digital Playground » Review by Don Houston » Review Date: 6/30/10

XCritic's Advice: Skip It

pictures courtesy of Empire

In the wonderful world of reviewing, you will find all types of characters. Between the differing tastes folks have and different needs, it is sometimes amazing how varied viewpoints can be on something as simple as a movie, book, video game, or even a sex toy. I know there are plenty of size queens out there and material snobs (the types that only like glass or high grade silicone, for example) but each of us has differing expectations from the products we review as well. I know I'm best known for my movie reviews, having reviewed upwards of 7000 or more over the past ten years, trying to find a balance between being positive and being as accurate as possible, offering a counterpoint to the slavering fanboys & corporate shills that make up the bulk of reviewers (at least from what I've seen). I occasionally poke fun at some that make a living off the industry who always love everything that crosses their path just like I fuss at friends who have such special needs that a single included act ruins a movie for them (like consensual choking) or the lack of a specific type of act means they hate a flick too (typically those that demand interracial or male on male action; seeing their fetish as "hot" even if it lasts a moment while the rest of the movie sucks). Contrary to what they say, there is plenty of room for objective analysis in any sort of review, albeit seasoned by the fact that we all look for different things. This holds true in sex toy reviews as well, the personalities involved often overshadowing the credibility of what they say, so here's a little glimpse at a vibrator that was modestly fun to play with, it just lacked on a few levels for Nadine and I, a toy called Katsuni's Ancient Secret in the Digital Playground Pirates line of sex novelties.

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First off, if you've ever watched one of the two Pirates movies, you will probably know that they are still selling well even now, years later. This is not typically for porn and much of it had to do with the vision shared by a large group of people that made the flicks a lot of fun, both of them predating the current sitcum porn parody craze (and yes, they had some elements of the popular Disney trilogy starring Johnny Depp but they were not truly parodies of those mainstream movies). Okay, Nadine and I associate anything from Digital Playground with a certain degree of quality, the upscale production outfit run by a lovely young lady named Samantha Lewis. Whatever else is said, the industry typically follows wherever the company leads them, their contract performers like Jesse Jane, Riley Steele, or Raven Alexis, considered some of the hottest players in the field by any standard. As such, I expect the most out of anything they do, not just the most resolution shot with a super expensive camera, the longest running time, or even the most extras, but the most "quality" in whatever market niche they go after. Under my guidance, Nadine has come to expect this as well and our recent reviews on their toy line has left us understandably upset that whoever is responsible for toys like Katsuni's Ancient Secret seems to have missed the boat by a whole lot.

I'll be the first to admit that Katsuni's role in Pirates 2 was among the best work she has done in a feature, her portrayal on par with any of the other, more experienced performers. The cover of the plastic case has a decidedly appealing picture of her along with the "Pirates" header, the cheap plastic box harkening back to the disposable toys of yesteryear. As a consumer advocate first, last, and always, I know that giving a toy like this to a woman involved a degree of delicacy unlike most any other gift. Wrapped in such a cheesy plastic box, a completely environmentally unsound box at that, Nadine figured the toy must cost around $15, the colorful skull patterns admittedly better suited for some Goth chick than a more experienced toy testing woman. Hating the box itself, her first question was "What does Katsuni have to do with this vibrator?" Needless to say, she is still waiting for my answer.

The black satin pouch included reminder her of the generic bag she used to collect her marbles in as a child, and the rhinestone-looking "jewels" surrounding the "splash proof" base (why not water proof, you know how much that limits the fun one can use a toy for???) made her think it might be best suited for those low end porn stores few classy women ever go in. My general argument was that few sex toys are made with any input from the performers pictured on the advertising but she pointed out that Digital Playground isn't just "any" company, as I had repeatedly told her myself. She hated that there was no padding in the bag too, her appreciation of the color not lasting long because she then started in on how it was made of "cheap, hard plastic" like the kind of toy her mother used to buy (and a lot cheaper at that).

I asked her what she liked about it and she begrudgingly said that it lasted a long time, over two hours, but it used non-standard "C" batteries to achieve that goal. That meant stopping the testing until a few days later when I went to the store to pick up a couple of batteries that size, almost all such toys using standard AA or AAA (or coming with some batteries to use). The best I can equate this scenario is it was like opening presents under the Christmas tree but someone forgot the batteries. I'll admit that I dropped the ball on that one, the battery size marked in text on the back of the box but not emphasized like a non-standard size should be (in my opinion). She also liked the two vibrational patterns and three speeds the push button on the bottom of the device provided but she stated that she was not to fond of the placement of said button because that is where she holds it to penetrate herself (which means the button is often accidently pressed too easily).

The size also pleased her in that it had a usable 6.5" in length and 1.5" in diameter to fill her up, the phthalate free status of the device almost assured given how there was nothing soft about it. She read the fine print on the back this time and said she liked that it was "designed and developed" in the USA but wondered why so much trouble went into saying it was assembled in "PRC", Nadine knowing darned well that this meant the People's Republic of China, not exactly known for their outstanding record on human sexuality or human rights in general. As she started sounding like my industry friend Nate about the issue, I steered her back to talking about the toy and she claimed it worked to get her off. Exactly why she couldn't just say that up front tells me lots about her mental makeup, and I mean that in a nice way, but by then she had already researched it herself and found that the going rate for the toy was around $50. That was what drove her ire the most because she showed me over a dozen toys under $20 that appeared to have the same general specifications, albeit not with Katsuni's picture plastered on the cover, the Pirates logo, or the Digital Playground seal of approval. It didn't help that much of the back cover, the non-biodegradable cover I'm told, was an advertisement for the movies and other toys in the line.

So, while I typically take a more hands on approach to reviewing toys with Nadine, she outflanked me this time and literally took matters into her own hands, letting me know exactly what she felt in the process. My preface to reviewing at the front of the review was to let you know what was up and why Nadine rated this one a Skip It, her primary issue being it struck her as a generic vibrator for a high end price, the gal expecting more from Digital Playground than this gave her. As a follow up though, I asked her what did she expect, our unrealistic expectations driving a lot of grief in the world, and she gave me a few suggestions for the Katsuni's Ancient Secret vibrator. She said either lower the price or put it in a worthy container used to store it, provide some batteries in the package, and to find some better material to make it out of. She understood the advertising gimmick of using a popular performer to move units but doubted Katsuni ever saw a penny from sales and asked if the logo really sold any extra toys. She made it clear that she would pay a little extra for toys with keep cases worth mentioning but she'd be hell bent if she'd fill up a landfill with junk like this plastic case, her price sensitivity understandable when there was no real reason it cost so much extra.

You can email me with questions at Houstondon @ hotmail.com if you have any constructive criticism of the review too. :) Also you can follow me on twitter @HoustonDon

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