Yumeria, Cowboy Bebop Remix and Tenchi Muyo
a bi-weekly column by Don Houston, John Sinnott, Chris Tribbey, and Todd Douglass
Anime Talk brings you more of the latest anime reviews along with deals, upcoming releases and more. This week in our capsule reviews we have a look at Cowboy Bebpo Remix volume one where this fan favorite title gets a new 5.1 track that really adds a lot to the show. There is also a new Tenchi series, the last volume of Gunslinger Girl, Area 88, and the absolutely wretched Panda-Z. Chris Tribbey has an early look at Yumeria, and we also have our table of upcoming releases. Holly decided to spend hours and hours sitting in stop and go traffic while she was sensibly getting out of the path of hurricane Rita, so the bargains section is amazingly similar to the one in the last installment. She did have time to put in a word about the great sale going on at DVDPlanet though.
Fans of anime have long asked companies to reissue premium titles with better extras and improved technical qualities. Such was the case with Cowboy Bebop Remix 1; the first in a series of revamped volumes featuring the exploits of our favorite futuristic bounty hunters, Spike Spiegel and Jet Black, as they traverse the galaxy in search of their prey. While the picture wasn't enhanced, even the most jaded critics are acknowledging the new 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround tracks are vastly superior to the originals and worth a double dip. This series is still way ahead of its time, even seven years later, and a perfect choice for any anime fan you might know. Is it any wonder that we rated it as a DVD Talk Collector Series pick of the month?
The original Tenchi Muyo OVA series was one of the first harem series and garnered a good number of fans here in the States. Clever, funny, and well executed the Tenchi OVA series spun off several other series (as well as a 2nd OVA series) involving the same characters, but slightly changed. At long last we get to go back to the original characters and see how what they are up to in Tenchi Muyo Ryo Okhi. This six episode OVA series has a lot of the charm of the original. There is a bit of mystery, a bit of humor and a lot of fun. It is great seeing all of the old characters once again. Highly Recommended.
One title that isn't recommended at all is the horrid Panda-Z. Volume one of this Go Nagi project is hands-down the worst anime DVD John has seen all year. This is a comedy series without any humor, plot or characterization. Anyone who has outgrown Hamtaro though won't think this is funny or entertaining. Not only is it not funny, it's insanely short. If you cut out the credits, there is only 15 minutes of content on this disc. If you see this on in your local B&M just run away.
Getting back to the good stuff, Planetes is one of the best shows currently being released, and volume two is just as good as the first installment. Life working in space isn't necessarily glamorous, but it is always hazardous. Just as the members of half section, the people responsible for picking up space debris. This "salaryman in space" show is surprisingly good. The stories are tightly written, and this gentle drama can turn suspenseful or bitter-sweet at a second's notice.
Over before the series had even begun to realize the potential of the concept, Gunslinger Girl 3: The Silence of the Stars offered up the final installment of the Gunslinger Girl trilogy with a plot to destroy the young cyborgs apparently afoot. Previously considered nearly indestructible, the race is on to find out who killed one of the team and her handler before the others are next. Some excellent extras made this an even better volume that I had hoped for but I can only wish that the series sparks interest in a full season given how well this one was handled by the talented crew at FUNimation.
Also offering some top notch quality, Area 88: Target 02 continued the adventures of ace pilot Shin Kazama as he confronts his past during a mission gone wrong. Flying missions to earn enough to buy out his contract, Shin is acknowledged as the best pilot in the Middle Eastern kingdom he protects as a mercenary but flying against technically superior aircraft and larger numbers, even his abilities are taxed to the max. Will a female ace prove to offer him the solace he needs to keep going or will he simply have to cling to the lost dreams of his past as he encounters the man responsible for his current predicament; a man he called his best friend at one time. Don't miss out on the second installment of the series that many are calling the best of the year.
Luckily the second volume of Galactic Railways doesn't fall into the sophomore slump, a trap that effects many anime series. The five shows on this disc are all strong stories they manage to advance the plot or reveal key details about a characters history. Created in honor of the 50th anniversary of influential comic artist Leiji Matsumoto's first published work, this series is shaping up to be much stronger than expected.
The second volume of Samurai Gun follows the adventure of the secret unit through feudal Japan. The adult atmosphere of the show is a little toned down with these three episodes here although there is still plenty of violence. Ichimatsu, Daimon and Kurenai tackle the anti-samurai yet again and we learn a little more about the characters. The show is still following the pattern of single story episodes and no grand plot has emerged even though the show is past the half way mark now. It's still a recommended watch for those of you who enjoy stuff like Ninja Scroll.
Part Captain Nemo and part Robin Hood, Mars Daybreak 1 focuses on a future where the pirate crew of the fearsome Aurora worries the populace of Mars as it plunders and fights the corrupt government forces. After ending up on the Aurora, young Gram finds himself at odds with the crew until he finds out that their reputation is far more myth than reality as its Captain leads the fight to do right by the working class slobs of the planet who have found the economic conditions to be far less hospitable than what the official party line is. Will Gram stay and fight or will he leave to start a new life becomes the questions for later volumes to answer.
FUNimation is currently releasing two series of Dragon Ball Z disc, and we have new volumes of both this time around. With the Vegeta Saga, FUNimation is releasing the first DBZ storyline that was previously put out on DVD by Pioneer. This time the shows are unedited and have an original language track. In volume four we get to see Gohan survive in the wild, Tien training for the day when he'll get a rematch against Goku, and Vegeta and Nappa show what they can do. Volume four in the Great Saiyaman Saga has also been released. This set of shows has a different feel from most of the other sagas in the series, this one is played for laughs and it makes a nice change of pace. This volume has another three uncut episodes and starts the next big storyline: The world martial arts tournament.
What happens when you take a dominatrix and give her the power to see and speak to the undead? You get Ghost Talker's Daydream, a twisted concept similar to the sixth sense but instead of Haley Joel Osment we are treated to a white haired vixen running around in a leather bodice. This four episode OVA is obviously a shorter series than the norm but it crafts an interesting world. The only problem is that with such a short amount of screen time the ideas never come to fruition and the characters aren't developed well.
While not exactly a title that'll cause you to lose any sleep over if you miss it, Full Metal Panic Fumoffu: Full Metal Fervor managed to continue providing laughs as Captain Tessa takes a brief vacation while her submarine is retrofitted with some new weapons. This gives her another shot at stealing Sousuke's heart away from Kaname as well as allow die hard fans a bit of hot spring fan service as a few other cast members try to peep on our favorite gals of the series. Sousuke finds that if anything goes wrong with Tessa's vacation, he'll wish he had never been born so watch this third volume to find out how he protects her virtues (even though she doesn't want protecting).
On a completely different note, Human Crossing 3, showed that anime doesn't have to be all about science fiction, fantastic characters, and twisted characters as it takes a look at three sets of people faced with various difficult choices. In terms of a humanistic look at hope, faith, and propriety, the series offered up a nice alternative to the usual anime fare but did so in such a manner than even those who hate the genre will find the stories appealing. From a woman who has served her time and wants to rejoin her family to the mistress of a now-dead father wanting to find a place in the son's family to a husband forced to decide between the comfort of his circumstances against his past dreams compromised away, each story was creative and interesting to watch.
The fifth volume of Saiyuki Double Barrel presents volumes 9 and 10 of the original release packaged together at a greatly reduced price. The story starts to get its second wind in the eight episodes that are presented here. The show still has a good amount of action, but it's also filling out nicely. They are taking time to explore the history of the various characters and make them more three dimensional. At the same time they relate this background information to the present day which helps make the show more detailed and intricate. A fun set of episodes.
The seventh volume of Peacemaker brings the show to a very bloody conclusion. As the Shinsengumi rampage through the city looking for revenge for their fallen member, Tetsunosuke has to finally decide if he is willing to kill to protect his comrades. This volume, like the last, is much darker and gore filled than the volumes leading up to it. This series certainly changes at the end.
This penultimate volume of The Get Backers, volume nine, is very entertaining. This is a fun series that just seems to hit everything right. The disc starts off with a pair of stand alone stories and then launches into what is sure to be the last big story arc of the series: The return to the Limitless Fortress. If you've followed the series up to this point, you'll be happy with this volume.
The penultimate volume of Elfen Lied, volume three, starts bringing the disparate parts of the story together. The plot starts to coalesce with these episodes and the story becomes even more interesting. Though there are only three instalments on this disc, a lot happens as the program prepares to reach its bloody climax.
Jiyu Nanohana and company are back with more eye-patch wearing fun and swordplay. This second series for the adventures of Jubei Chan is proving to be exciting, personable and holds true to the standards set by the first. The three episodes on the second volume feature a lot of fast paced fighting, character development and whacky humor that takes some getting used to. Everything about this show comes together in such a way that it is highly recommended to fans of the original and anyone looking for a different style of anime.
Burst Angel reaches the halfway point with the third volume. The series is fun, but there isn't that much to it. By this time an overriding plot sould have materialized, but it hasn't. The characters haven't evolved very much and the stories don't seem to be leading anywhere. Even so, it's worth a viewing if you are in the mood for some mindless action.
If ever a series was aptly named, it would be The Melody of Oblivion: Monotone, largely due to the generic situations the cast went through as they fought a guerilla war against the demons enslaving mankind. While that sounds pretty interesting, the reality of this third volume was plot holes you could drive a truck through, situations that didn't work, and characters about as sympathetic as the demons they fought. I'm sure some of you will enjoy the series but there was so little to like this time that I can count you on one hand.
Dull, uneventful, and bland are the words that first come to mind when viewing the second volume of Piano. It is a show with no conflict, no characterization and no plot. Just slow and plodding program that takes its time to get to its destination that turns out to be nowhere. This slice-of-life drama about a teenage girl who plays the piano and is just starting to notice the opposite sex could have been entertaining if something ever happened in it. As it is, this is the anime equivalent to watching paint dry.
We end up this week on a high note: Madlax.
Things really start taking shape in the fourth volume of Madlax.
This is one of those pivotal volumes where the plot starts to become clearer,
but a lot of mysteries are still left. We get to learn about Madlax's
background; what her name means and how she became a mercenary. Margaret's
book, the Secondari, becomes more important and more mysterious, and someone
changes sides. A great anime series that just keeps getting better.
Scheduled for release on Tuesday, Oct. 4 , 2005
Scheduled for release on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2005
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by Chris Tribbey
Yumeria Vol. 1
My first thought when I popped the first volume of Yumeria into the DVD player was “Not another one.” Young, misunderstood boy suddenly finds himself surrounded by beautiful girls. Young, misunderstood boy suddenly finds himself in a magical world of suspense and intrigue. Young, misunderstood boy is suddenly the envy of all the other guys. Yes, young, misunderstood boy is a retread of two dozen other young, misunderstood boys in anime, complete with hot adopted guardian and close-up panty shots. Suddenly I was bored.
Yumeria starts out similar to at least 30 other cute girl anime shows, when school loser Tomokazu Mikaru wakes from a fantastic dream to find a girl from that dream in bed with him. The girl follows him to school, where all the (big-breasted, hot) girls are filled with wonder, and the (predictable, excitable) boys are jealous. It’s Mikaru’s 16th birthday and he wasn’t expecting any of this of course. He goes to sleep, thinking the dream was a singular event and the girl just might be some strange prank.
But when he has another dream – this time there are two girls, and something or someone is trying to vaporize them all – his life is really thrown through a loop. Turns out he and the hot girls are going to have to fight for mankind against a shady enemy in Mikaru’s dreams. These “Fadoes” want to invade our world, pity them, and rule over mankind.
Everything happens way too fast in Yumaria, with boy and girls suddenly becoming super powered adventurers. There’s hardly any set-up for this dream world, as Mikaru and the girls quickly go from school children to heroes. While the dream world has a funky, surreal design to it, there’s little new or special to the look of characters or the real world. Action is sparse and unimpressive, and the humor is your standard, “oops I landed with my face in her breasts,” mixed with comedic circus tunes. Even the biggest magical girl anime fans will be sickened with dejavu.
To Yumeria’s credit, it knows where it comes from and pokes fun
of the “confused anime boy,” but it’s still a stupidly irreverent mahou
shoujo/moe series, instead of a farce that’s actually funny. Rent It
if you’re bored, Skip It if you have a life.
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January 2015 Edition
2013 Q4 Top Anime Titles from RightStuf.com, Part 1
Crunchy Roll, Lupin, and Bunny Drop