Movie: Bandai has been releasing some interesting anime, particularly lately, so I opened the box to s-CRY-ed with a bit of pep in my step, so to speak. I hadn't heard much about it and generally don't listen to the company hype that surrounds releases, having been burned more than a few times-even by companies known for higher than average quality. The series deals with a group of young people who gain superpowers due to a naturally occurring earthquake that happened 22 years ago on an island off the coast of Japan. About 1% of everyone born there can use their power to either summon a weapon or enhance themselves in some way. As with all things, some of these people abuse their power and the rest of the world imposes order upon them in the fashion of an organization known as HOLD with a special division of enhanced humans known as HOLY. Here's what the box says about the whole thing: "22 years ago, a cataclysmic earthquake destroyed the capital of Japan and threw the country into chaos. The damaged region was abandoned and labeled the "Muraji Special Economic District," more commonly known as the Lost Ground. After the earthquake, the Lost Ground became home to a rising number of Alter Users, those with the psychic ability to change matter and create Alters with unique powers. To control this lawless land, the special police force HOLD was created. Within it is an anti-Alter unit, HOLY, which was formed to combat the renegade Native Alters in the Lost Ground.
None of this really matters to Kazuma, a Native Alter who uses his powerful alter, Shell Bullet, in his search for money and thrills. But when Kazuma runs into the oppressive HOLY, he is forced into fighting for the freedom and safety of those he cares about. Is the brash Kazuma strong enough to defeat HOLY's most powerful Alter User, Ryuho, and his Alter, Zetsuei?"
Episode 1: Kazuma: The episode is titled after the lead character, a young mercenary who isn't the brightest or most powerful "alter" (enhanced human) but has the survival skills honed by daily combat to make himself valuable to those who need his services.
Episode 2: Ryuho: This episode detailed the leading alter of HOLY who is said to be among the strongest, most controlled enhanced humans around. Having lost his mother to a powerful alter, he'll take any steps to prevent those unaffiliated with HOLY from abusing their power and considers all such people as trash.
Episode 3: Holy: This episode provided some background into the organization as seen through the eyes of a new recruit (who got the job due to her father, not having had any alter powers). Up until this point, it appeared as though Kazuma was truly a criminal in need of incarceration but the events following this one show that HOLY is anything but "holy".
Episode 4: Big Magnum: This episode further showed the inhumanity of HOLY. The title character controls a large weapon that manifests itself when he concentrates. It is shown that he has killed indiscriminately and makes Kazuma's excesses seem trivial by comparison.
Episode 5: Mimori Kiryu: Kanami, Kazuma's young charge, needs medical help and Kazuma will do anything to get it for her. He attacks a HOLD medical convoy that had Mimori aboard and she assists with curing the little girl. Kazuma fights with Oscar and his Eternity 8 alter. Having left a trail of defeated HOLY alters, not to mention his earlier escape from HOLY headquarters, Kazuma becomes public enemy #1.
Picture: The picture was presented in full frame 1.33:1 ratio. It was colorful but the animation style was often low end with little background detail. Luckily, the story was strong enough to cover for this fact.
Sound: The audio was presented in 2.0 stereo with both Japanese and English tracks. The Japanese track was superior this time by a considerable margin. I noticed that the beginning of the fifth episode lacked any English track (mastering error most likely) for those who care.
Extras: Textless openings and an ending, a summary of the setting called Lost Ground Express #1, a design gallery that details most of the main characters and their powers, and trailers. The Lost Ground Express and design Gallery really fleshed out the story to help it make more sense.
Final Thoughts: Having just gone to see the X-Men 2 movie this week, I saw the homage paid to the Marvel Comic here. Young mutants with powers they can't always control, a government afraid of those who'd abuse their powers, stereotypes and racial prejudices as well as the themes of survival in a harsh, unforgiving world, make up the bulk of the show. Yeah, there's the silly fights that a lot of fans, especially younger fans, want to see but there's a lot more than that too. I just wish that more resources had gone into the making of the original source material since the backgrounds and often enough secondary characters looked almost like that cartoon Home Movies in their simplicity. In all, I'll recommend this as a Rental but fans of beat them up fighting anime will rate it at least a Recommended if not higher.