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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Angelic Layer - Deus Ex Machina (Vol. 5)
Angelic Layer - Deus Ex Machina (Vol. 5)
ADV Films // Unrated // March 30, 2004
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Don Houston | posted May 22, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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Movie: Anime has long been an area where young males were catered to, at the expense of a female audience. Over the years, domestic companies have realized that leaving out such a large part of the potential consumer base was stupid so they began emulating their counterparts in Japan, providing for shows that appeal to females too. The latest such show from ADV Films, Angelic Layer 5: Deus Ex Machina, shows the company addressing the market niche in a show that could also appeal to fans of fighting anime. While spy shows, mech-robot shows, and various destruction related anime are targeted at males, the females out there have had a decidedly smaller selection to choose from. This show combines some aspects of a fighting series but handles it in a different manner, to the point where combatants are often friends, and no one gets hurt.



The series tells the story of a twelve-year-old girl, Misaki, who is instructed in a technological game that involves using robotic dolls. The dolls are programmed to fight in a special arena and the games are quite competitive. The dolls, when put on a special arena surface, come to life and are thought controlled by the owner. Two go into the arena and fight, with various rules and regulations to control aspects of the contest, and how well they do will dictate how many points they get and their ranking in regional bouts.



As the fifth DVD opens up, Misaki finds her newfound success at the Angelic Layer Kanto competition only the beginning of her trials. She now needs to pick a partner for the finals and finds no shortage of friends to select from. This causes her some stress as she is not used to being in such a position. Here's a quick breakdown with minimal spoilers for the included four episodes on the fourth DVD:



Episode Seventeen: I've Made My Mind Up On You! The One Misaki Selected:

With the national games just around the corner, Misaki and her friends celebrate her win at the regional games with a small, private party. It ends up being a discussion of what skills she'll need to hone and who will be a proper second for her, complimenting her strengths. In short, it amounted to something of a breather from the formulaic standard the series sometimes gets stuck with.



Episode Eighteen: Many Strong opponents! The National Games Of Everyone's Dreams:

The fanfare surrounding the opening of the national games overwhelms the cast as they prepare for the tournament. Misaki gets to meet a number of her competitors, including Athena, the winner of the previous three competitions (and a nearly invincible angel). The competition reveals the feelings each of the contestants has for making it to the final match, most likely against Athena.



Episode Nineteen: System Down! Decisive Fight On A Ship In A Storm!:

Misaki and Hikaru get to have their first match in the national competition. Their opponent, Chitose Tanaka, with her angel prove to be a strong match on a pirate ship setting. Unfortunately, the setting has some technical difficulties, a fact that threatens the match and the validity of the games. Aside from the much larger opponent, Hikaru must also fight the technical issues as the technical teams fight to keep the game in play.



Episode Twenty: Is Icchan The Enemy? The Puzzling Second Game!:

In a surprise twist, Mr. Icchan's champion is the next opponent, sporting a newly developed angel with improved capabilities. Misaki fights her best yet can't shake the feeling that Mr. Icchan has somehow betrayed her. Hikaru comes up with a risky strategy but her opponent's superior capabilities are offset only by his tendency to analyze too much.



When I started watching the series back with href=http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/read.php?ID=8278>Volume 1, I didn't think it would grow on me like it this. I prefer more sophistication in my anime and this didn't have it. Still, as time goes on, something clicked and I'm anticipating the future volumes of the show, which is why I'm giving this a rating of Recommended. As a side note, I was allowed to glance at an HK version of the show (found much cheaper on the internet). The ADV version was vastly superior in terms of picture quality, audio, and subtitles, with only price going for it (proving once again that you get what you pay for).



Picture: The picture was presented in the usual 1.33:1 ratio full frame color, the standard for television anime shows for years. The picture was very clear and colorful with no artifacts or other problems observed. The transfer was solid and I had no problems with the picture.



Sound: The audio was presented with a choice of either a 5.1 Dolby Digital English track or the original 2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese track. I favored the original track on the vocals but preferred the dub on the effects with the better spatial characteristics. The dub vocals weren't bad, I actually enjoyed them a lot, but some of it was due to the writing.



Extras: The best extra was an audio commentary on one episode by Sasha Paysinger (voice actor for Hatoko) and Mariela Ortiz (Ringo). The two spent a fair amount of time introducing themselves and their background as well as some information about the show. There was a paper insert that described two of the leads and their dolls, clean openings and closings, and some previews.



Final Thoughts: The show is fun, suitable for younger audiences, and contained enough substance that anime fans may enjoy it more than some of the other fighting series on the market. It has been fun to watch and with only a couple more DVD's to go, I look forward to seeing every last episode, even if I'm not usually a fan of the fighting sub-genre of anime.

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