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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Burst Angel Volume 1: Death's Angel
Burst Angel Volume 1: Death's Angel
FUNimation // Unrated // May 10, 2005
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted May 16, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Show:

FUNimation, the company that brought Dragon Ball Z, Lupin the 3rd, and Kiddy Grade to region 1 are now releasing a Gonzo title from 2004; Burst Angel.  Like many of Gonzo's shows, this program is heavy on the action, but doesn't leave characterization and plot by the wayside either.  With a perfect melding of traditional and computer animation, it looks like this will be an enjoyable series.

In the not too distant future, Japan is a crime filled country where it is legal to carry guns. In this violent future lives Tachibana Kyohei, a young student who wants to earn some money so that he can go to France to become a chef.  He answers a want ad for a part time cook, and finds himself working for four attractive, yet mysterious women who live in a very large mobile trailer.  There's Sei, the leader, Jo, the grouchy fighter of the group, Meg, who doesn't seem to do much, and the youngest, Amy, a computer expert.  It turns out that these girls make their money by preforming hazardous jobs for an unknown contract agent.  They are good at what they do, but it turns out that their mercenary lifestyle can also endanger their domestic help.

There are a pair of stories on this disc, both of which are two episodes long.  The disc starts out with Sei hiring Kyohei, but as soon as he says "yes" he finds himself in trouble.   The Angels have been hired to steal a computer disc that is being sold by an arms dealer.  The dealer is expecting trouble though, so he kidnaps Kyohei as insurance.  It doesn't really work though, because as soon as the Angels try to take the disc a 'cybot' breaks into the proceedings and snatches it from all the other parties.  After a brief but fierce battle, the cybot takes Meg as a prisoner, and flees.  (Why??  It would make more sense to kill Meg or just leave her there.)  A distressed Jo the deputizes Kyohei and the two go into the most dangerous area of the city to find their partner.

In the second story the Angels are charged with capturing a man alive, not something that Jo really likes to do, but she will if she has to.  She and Meg, who is grossed out by having to travel through a slum, find the target, but before they can apprehend him someone else grabs him.  They tail the kidnappers and find out that this mumbling homeless addict they were after may be more important than they first thought.

These shows gives a good introduction to the series while setting up some mysteries for future volumes to explore.  Who is the mysterious person who hires them?  Just how are all these women related?  It is obvious that Jo and Meg have some kind of connection too.  What that exactly is hasn't been discussed, but whenever Meg is in trouble, Jo gets worried and goes after her.  (A lesbian relationship perhaps??)

Which leads me to Meg's character.  I really hope they do something with her in the future episodes, because all she does in these foor is get captured by the bad guys.  In both stories on this disc she is held hostage at some point.  She doesn't seem to have any fighting abilities or any other talents for that matter.  Why she's in the group is a bug mystery to me, but I have a feeling that they will explore Meg more fully pretty soon.

There is a lot of action in this series, which I enjoy, but the thing that surprises me is that there isn't much fan service.  I was really happy to see that.  It seems that anytime you have a show that involves women with guns, there is more time spent on watching their cleavage bounce than actually fighting the villains.   Yes, these women have unrealistic skimpy clothes, and there is the occasional peak at some underwear, but it isn't something that they dwell upon; there aren't any guys getting bloody noses and fainting every time a woman walks by.  Aside from the clothes, the character designs were pretty good.  None of the characters have grotesquely large breasts, they all look fairly normal.

Of course one of the things Gonzo is famous for is their ability to seamlessly mesh 2D and 3D animation, and this show is no exception.  The CGI mecha fights look really good, but they animation style isn't so different from the backgrounds and other characters that it's distracting.  If you've seen any of the myriad of shows where the CGI animation sticks out like a sore thumb, you'll know how nice it is to have a nice meshing between styles.

There are some nice touches that the animators put into this series too.  Little background details that add a lot to the atmosphere of the show.  There are holographic billboards that pop up overhead as drivers pass through tunnels and they made sure that the glow from a computer screen would highlight the users face.  It's little touches like these that make Gonzo such a well respected studio.

The DVD:


This DVD contains the first four episodes of the series. It comes in a clear keepcase with reversible cover and a 16 page booklet that has character profiles, art from the series, and song lyrics. This disc also comes in a LE version with a sturdy slipcase that will hold the whole series and a cell phone strap with two charms. I really like it when companies give you bonus items when you buy the deluxe version of the first volume, and it was nice for FUNimation to include this, but I can't see too many people getting excited about it. The strap is a little feminine in my opinion, and the plastic handle isn't of very high quality.

There is one thing about this DVD that really rankles: there is a two-minute unskipable trailer before the menu. You can't fast forward, chapter skip or hit the menu button to get past it.

Audio:

This disc comes with the original Japanese language track as well as an English dub, both in 5.1.  I preferred the Japanese track, but there wasn't anything wrong with the English track.  They make good use of the soundstage, with a good amount of directional effects.  I thought that the voices that come from the rear speakers were mixed a little high, but that wasn't a big deal.  There are optional English subtitles which sometimes overlap with text on screen, but only very rarely.

Video:

This is a recent show, and the anamorphic widescreen image looks really good.  The colors are strong with a good amount of detail:  Images waver as they are seen through the rising heat of a fire, and the glow of a CRT display lights up Amy's face.  The lines are tight and the picture is clean.  As far as digital defects go, I notice some light aliasing in the background, but it was very minor. A very good looking show.

Extras:

This disc has a nice amount of extras included on it.

First off is a commentary track to the fourth episode with someone who doesn't identify himself but tunrs out to be Chris Bevins, voice director, the audio mixer Nathaneal Harrison and actresses Jamie Marchie (Meg) and Monica Rial (Jo).  This is another 'party' commentary track, where everyone has a good time laughing at each other's jokes and around kidding with each other.  Unfortunately there isn't a lot of meat to the commentary.  Jamie does offer some good comments about how he did the 5.1 English mix, but that was the exception.

Then there are three 'Bakuten (Burst Angel) Radio' selections included on this disc, along with two more 'bonus tracks.'  Each of these runs about 15 minutes.  I'm not sure what to make of these.  They two of the Japanese voice actresses from the show (Jo and Meg) chatting about inconsequential things; their names, how old they think they look, their favorite food, and racing to say tongue twisters.  I found them really dull.  They are in Japanese, of course, with English subtitles.

There is also a textless opening and closing, a 10½-minute reel of out-takes which was pretty funny in parts, and trailers to other FUNimation series.

Final Thoughts:

This series is starting out pretty well.  I liked the first story more than the second, but not by much.  I like the fact that there isn't a lot of fan service, something that usually just detracts from the story.  The characters haven't really developed yet, but I have hopes that they will in time.  If you like action shows with a fair amount of background story, such as Bubblegum Crisis:  Tokyo 2040, you'll probably enjoy this too.  Recommended.
 

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