Toonami's version of Groove Adventure Rave, edited and renamed Rave Masters, has been shown on the Cartoon Network for the past six months. Tokyo Pop has put this cut version of the show on DVD now with four episodes for the very reasonable price of $14.95.
Fifty years ago the war between the forces of light and darkness came to an end when the warrior Shiba fought and defeated Shadow Stone. Though he thought he was victorious, the Stone exploded in an event that is referred to as the Overdrive. A tenth of the world was destroyed and this force scattered the evil Shadow Stones as well as the Rave Stones that represent the forces of good.
In the present time, Haru Glory has inherited the mantle of Rave Master. It is his destiny to track down the four Rave Stones and destroy all of the Shadow Stones. The Shadow Guard, the forces of evil, want to stop him though. Armed with the Decasword and the Rave, a key that powers his sword, Haru travels the world searching for the Stones and battling the Shadow Guard along with his "carrot nosed dog" Plue.
As the show starts, Haru appears in Hip Hop City. He's looking for Plue, but his pet has been trailing Elie, a young wanderer, in the hopes that she'll feed him. Elie runs into a squad of Shadow Guards who, after seeing how fast Plue can run, want to enter him in the local dog races. So they steal Plue and put him on the track, where both Elie and Haru try to rescue him. The Shadow Guards that attack them are easily dispatched, but the same can't be said of their commander, a man who has a Shadow Stone which gives him the ability to turn his body into carbon monoxide.
The rest of the disc has Elie and Haru, who have now teamed up, trying to escape Hip Hop City, and encountering the leader of the Shadow Guard, General Shuda. In the fight that occurs, Haru manages to temporarily defeat the General, but at a cost: his Decasword breaks. Elie has heard of a blacksmith named Musica who could repair the weapon, so the group sets out for Punk Alley to get the sword repaired, but the Shadow Guard are after them. They want the sword and Haru's Rave at any price.
This is an okay kids anime show, but not great. While it has some things going for it, there are more negatives. On the plus side, the show has a very catchy theme song that is infectious. Though I usually skip the opening credits after the first episode, I found myself watching these just so I could bop along with the song.
Another good thing is that there isn't any fan service or large breast jokes, which makes the show appropriate for younger kids. I also liked the fact that this isn't a 'monster of the week' type of show, with the plot being advanced at least a little in every episode.
On the down side, there really wasn't anything to draw me into the show. Haru hasn't seemed particularly worried about finding Shadow Stones, he just seems to be going with the flow. Events seem to happen at random just so that something occurs in each episode, not because they are part of some overriding plot.
There are some dumb aspect to the show too. Swords are the weapon of choice on this world, with Haru using one that is just as big as he is. Everyone uses them except Elie who has a pair of Tonka Balsters, twin batons that shoot out rapid fire laser blasts. You would think that everyone would own a pair, but the Shadow Gurads seem to prefer hand to hand weapons.
Then there are the comic aspects of the show. This is a comedy/adventure show, but the comedy just isn't that funny. Even my young sons only rarely laughed and the show is presumably aimed at them.
Some of this could be because the show is heavily edited. It is fairly evident from watching these that the Cartoon Network was fairly liberal with their adapting the program for American audiences. Unfortunately, that is the version that Tokyo Pop released on this DVD, a dub only edited show.
This DVD only has an English dub which is presented in the rather odd format of DD 4.0. There isn't a lot of audio thrown to the rear channels, with only the occasional effect thrown to the back. For all practical purposes the show sounds like a standard stereo mix. The audio sounded adequate without any distortion or hiss. The main voice talent was competent, but the smaller roles all had corny accents or exaggerated voices which got old rather quickly.
The full frame video is about average for a recent series. The image is just a slight bit on the soft side, but the colors are full. There is a little bit of aliasing, and some of the fine background lines shimmer a bit. Aside from that, the picture looks fine.
There are no extras on this disc, not even a series of trailers or a promo spot.
This show would be fun for young kids to watch, but older viewers might
find it a little dull and predictable for their tastes. The comedy
wasn't that funny and the action was mediocre at best. The worst
thing about this show is that it is only available in an edited and dubbed
version. I hope Tokyo Pop decides to put out the original version
of the show, I'd be interested to see how it compares. As far as
the edited version goes, you'd be best off renting it.