Movie: Pioneer Entertainment releases some of the best anime series from Japan. I state this as a fact because I've seen much of it (although not nearly enough). Whether you prefer romantic comedies, science fiction, or even some fairly twisted mixes of both, there's a lot of great stuff coming from the company these days. That said, they aren't perfect by a long shot. One such example of this would be a little series known as Beyblade.
Beyblade is a little known release from Japan that was designed with one thing in mind, selling a toy line. There was a toy where you pulled a plastic cord and it let loose a spinning top. When I was a kid, I played with a gyroscope toy so maybe the idea isn't as lame as it sounds. On second thought, it really is pretty lame. The series followed the adventures (Ha!) of a kid and his pals who fight in a tournament against other Beyblader's with monster's that come out when they spin their tops. If that sounds a lot like every other fighting series out there, from Ranma to Pokemon to Fist of the North Star, it's because it is just like them with one small exception-it's specifically designed to sell a toy. The show is just one long repetitive commercial, and not a well made commercial at that.
The show centered on a particular character, Tyson. He hangs out with his pals and looks for new strategies to beat his opponents. In the five episodes presented here, I think his big strategy was to out stupid them. Apparently, acting really, really dumb throws your opponent off when they think you're incompetent. The silly thing is, the anime style was colorful, if limited, and the sound fairly well done for what amounts to an infomercial that you pay to own. Otherwise, there was nothing here for this anime fan and even kids will soon be bored with it unless they're retarded or under 3 years old. This was the third volume of 5 episodes and named The Hidden Tiger. If only it could've stayed hidden!
Picture: The dvd was presented in 1.33:1, full frame format. It was very clear and colorful but again, the style was very limited. It looked like one of those quickies that are churned out in large factories for low cost (outsourced from Japan to smaller countries with cheaper labor). Much of the animation is static with mostly camera movement to imitate actual motion.
Sound: The sound is presented in 2.0 stereo English and was clear. The voice acting was nothing special, and sometimes seemed like a cold reading of the lines, but not the worst aspect of the show. The dvd provided optional English subtitles but no original Japanese track.
Extras: There were some biographies of the lead characters, two commercials for the toy the series was designed to sell, and some trailers.
Final Thoughts: Wow! I thought I'd seen some stinkers in my time but this one was really bad. The best thing I can say about it was that there were 5 episodes on the dvd but I think this one should be Skipped by pretty much anyone in favor of the better titles Pioneer Entertainment has to offer. Even if the production qualities were better and the show wasn't an over long commercial that repeated itself each episode, I'd be inclined to pass this one up.