Vandread: Enemy Engaged! (Volume 1)
Enemy Engaged! is the first volume of the thirteen episode Vandread series to arrive on DVD from Pioneer. The disc collects the first four episodes in the series:
Episode 1: Boy Meets Girl
Episode 2: And…I've Lost My Way
Episode 3: This the Path I Choose to Live
Episode 4: I Want to Know More About You
On the planet of Tarak, the men are determined to crush their enemies, the women of Mejale, using their powerful Vanguard battle suits. Before the spaceship carrying the Vanguards and the troops launches, Hibiki, a third class citizen, sneaks aboard to steal a Vanguard to prove to his friends he's not a loser. Unfortunately, Hibiki is caught and as punishment, is sentenced to public execution. But before that can happen, the women attack in their Dread ships and board them. In a last ditch effort to keep their technology out of the women's hands, the men fire a huge missile at the ship. Instead of destroying them though, it pushes the women and the three lone men left board – Hibiki, Duero, and Bart - to the edge of the galaxy. Now, they face a new enemy, and only by working together can they survive.
Having been mixed on the last GONZO animation I saw, Blue Submarine, I approached Vandread with some hesitation, though I expected some awesome visuals. Vandread definitely delivers on that last point – the battle scenes are spectacular. The plot is nothing entirely new, though manages to be entertaining and funny, especially the PSAs proclaiming women as the ultimate evil in the universe.
Vandread is presented in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. The transfer is superb, with vibrant colors, solid blacks, and no color bleeding or smearing. While some anime with a mix of CG and traditional animation looks a tad strange, the results here are terrific.
Vandread is presented in Dolby 2.0 Stereo in English or Japanese. Optional subtitles are available in English. The tracks have quite a bit of directionality throughout the episodes and sound fantastic, especially during the battles. Though I primarily listened to the Japanese track, I watched a fair amount with the English dub, and had no problems. Fans of anime will no doubt notice some familiar voices in the dub, as I recognized quite a few from Outlaw Star and Cowboy Bebop.
Extras include the all four non-credit openings, two promo clips in Japanese, and an art gallery of 17 character sketches. The DVD also features some incredible motion menus, as well as a very nice holofoil cover.
Fans of previous GONZO animation (Blue Submarine and Gate Keepers) know what to expect in terms of the animation, though the storyline in Vandread is much easier to follow and enjoy. Pioneer has put together a fantastic first disc for the series and the show is definitely worth checking out if you need a new anime fix. Recommended!