Sony's manufactured on demand (MOD) program has released
some great movies and TV shows, and now their expanding into anime. The first wave of three titles includes Viper's Creed a 12-episode mecha show
that's entertaining and fun. Unfortunately,
the set comes only with an English dub.
For some reason the Japanese language track wasn't included, but
English audio is pretty solid While this
will be a deal killer for a lot of anime fans, if you don't mind
without the original language it's worth checking out.
In the not so far future, the world has changed
significantly. Global warming has caused
the sea levels to rise dramatically, and that in turn sparked a third
war. During the war, the skies and
oceans were poisoned and the result is that the only viable form of
transportation is by roads. The upshot is that giant freeways have been
constructed between cities and countries that transport everything from
Not everything is peaceful however. The
city of Fort
Daiva is being attacked by a never
ending series of raids by "bug mechs," unmanned fighting machines
during the war. Since the army is still
looked on with suspicion by the general populace the Arqon Global
Corporation has been hired to keep the city safe. They
do this by attacking the bug mechs
"maneuver blades," light, fast, transforming motorcycles
that are operated by a human driver and armed to the teeth with guns,
and even chain saws. The main weakness
the maneuver blades have is that they don't have an on-board power
supply. They get their energy from the
streets themselves and if they move off them, they'll shut down in 30
(a plot device that's used a few times in the first episodes.)
The show revolves around a team of maneuver blades drivers
who work for Arqon, the elite Viper squad.
Bugs aren't the only thing that the Vipers have to worry about
however. There is a lot of unrest and
protests in Fort
Daiva over the
foreign companies that
have bought up the real estate and the lack of work. Even though the
group has launched terrorist attacks that kill innocent civilians, they
popular among the citizens of Fort Daiva
and when the Vipers go after them, the
becomes very dangerous.
This is a bit eclectic.
The first half consists solely of stand alone episodes where
to know the various members of Viper Squad.
The group consists of the typical members of an action oriented
team: a sniper who never misses, a big,
tough, silent guy, the hotshot of the team haunted by his past, and the
chick who excels in kicking ass. Added
to the group is a new member, an enthusiastic youth who happens to be
the son of
Arqon's CEO and a new operator who gives the Vipers instructions when
out in the field. Many of the early
episodes focus on an individual member and their background with a
with bugs thrown in for good measure. These
are good, solid episodes, with engaging stories.
It's in the second disc where things get interesting and the
episodes start having some continuity. A conspiracy is revealed that
plot to frame the Vipers for murder. It
starts off as a fairly pedestrian story, but there's and early twist in
that makes the story much more exciting.
This story arc is excellent and really makes the show stand out
average mecha program.
Overall it's a fun and enjoyable show, but there are some
flaws. It's hard not to roll your eyes
when they talking about the earlier war that made travel by air or sea
impossible. They just state that's the
case, and don't really explain why. The
very end was a bit of a stretch too, with a man who had lost his sight
and fighting perfectly due to instructions that were being relayed to
him. "Bug at three o'clock!" was all he
take out the armored killing machine.
Yeah, right. If you can look past
those flaws (and a lot of mecha shows have similar defects), Viper's Creed is a show worth watching.
This 12-episode series arrives on two DVD-r discs in a
single-width keepcase. The discs
themselves don't have any art, just the title and Sony logo in black on
background but the case itself includes a colorful cover.
This is where a lot of otaku are going to be
disappointed: The only audio included is
a 5.1 English dub. Yes, I wish that the
original language track had been included too, especially at this price
point. Having said that, I thought the
dub was pretty good. The voice actors did a good job and the battle
really came alive with the 5.1 track.
The whole soundstage is used, even when there isn't a lot of
screen. There are a couple of places
where someone's voice would be thrown to the rear of the room when they
entering from behind the camera. The
whole track was effective and immersive with no signs of audio defects. Had they included a Japanese track, my rating
would be a lot higher.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image is pretty good.
The colors really pop and the lines are nice
and tight. There wasn't any aliasing or
other common digital artifacts. Overall
it's a very good looking show.
None, not even a clean opening and closing. I'm
pretty surprised that they didn't include
trailers for the other two Sony Choice Collection anime titles. That seems like a no-brainer to me.
This is a hard one to rate.
I actually enjoyed the show quite a bit, but the lack of an
audio soundtrack is a major flaw in the released. If
you prefer watching the English dub, by
all means seek this out, you'll enjoy it.
On the other hand if the idea of watching it in English is
you should avoid this title. Overall I'm
going to give it a recommended
rating since I really think it is worth watching, even in English.