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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Viewtiful Joe, Vol. 1
Viewtiful Joe, Vol. 1
Geneon // G // February 7, 2006
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted February 13, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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If you're into videogames at all (action ones in particular) then you have no doubt played Viewtiful Joe at some point. The unique style of combat and artistic flare became an instant success among the gaming community and even though the series didn't start too long ago it has already received a couple more installments. In particular, fans of comic book heroes and cheesy kung fu movies were drawn to the wild characters and chopsocky antics. It should be no surprise then that we're now checking out the anime of the same name.

Originally airing in 2004, the Viewtiful Joe anime ran for over fifty episodes in Japan and has been broadcast here in the States on the Kids WB. The anime follows the game series, but there are obviously some liberties taken here. Capcom still has their hand in the show though so it's not like it's going to be all that different of a concept. Geneon acquired the rights to release the series here in America and the first volume has landed on our doorstep for review.

If you have watched Schwarzenegger's movie Last Action Hero the idea behind Viewtiful Joe may feel familiar. Joe is your average every day comic book lover who is infatuated with Captain Blue. Blue is an elderly pot-bellied action star with a ton of movies, comic books, and action figures with his likeness. One day Joe takes his girlfriend Silvia to see a director's cut edition of a classic Captain Blue movie, but things go a little awry. Something happens in the movie that isn't supposed to and the evil Jadow reaches through the screen to kidnap Joe's girl.

Naturally Joe follows her in and soon he's attacked by the Jokester and a bunch of Biankies. He breaks out the kung fu and goes "all Matrix" on them, but without superpowers he's not going to last long. Captain Blue steps into the picture at that point and gives Joe his own V-watch, which will allow him to transform into Viewtiful Joe. Now that he has an outfit and powers he can begin the rescue of his girlfriend from the clutches of the Jadow organization. Watching Joe discover what he can do and practice with the moves is amusing, especially when you see the reaction of his opponents as they rag on him during his first steps.

Sure the show sounds incredibly cheesy to the uninitiated, but that's really where its charm lies. There is a great sense of humor in each episode and the script is pretty witty, despite the appeal to a younger age. It's hard to tell how the show came across in Japanese because the release here is presented only with the English dubbing. There are also only three episodes on the first volume so the content is obviously not up to snuff, especially for an opening installment. At least it appears that there is a great amount of continuity here since each of these episodes follows the series of events from the one before it.

Viewtiful Joe is an interesting series with a great personality and a fun atmosphere. I really liked the game and the characters are represented well in this iteration of the concept. My only real gripe with this release is the way that it's being handled. I mean an English only dubbing with three episodes on a volume? That hurts big time, especially when you try to swallow the bitter pill of a $20 price tag for such shallow content. If the show were to receive more episodes on future volumes the suggestion may change, but for the time being this one rest firmly in rental territory despite the enjoyable nature of the series.

The DVD:

Video:

Viewtiful Joe is presented with its original 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio that it was broadcast with in Japan. The picture quality is fine with a clean image, lack of aliasing, and no cross-coloration to speak of. The art style may take newcomers a little to get used to thanks to the big heads and torsos but shorter legs. The show also cuts corners during the animation process so things aren't as smooth as they could have, or should have been. Still, this is a good looking show with a style all its own and a lot of fast action that will keep fans in viewtiful heaven.

Audio:

As I mentioned, this release is presented with only an English dubbing track for the spoken language. Needless to say for otakus this is a crying shame and something that can't really be overlooked. As it stands though the English dub is still pretty good with some great voice work and decent enough quality. Some of the accents got on my nerves and fans of the game may be disappointed that none of the voice actors are the same. The disc also comes with English subtitles.

Extras:

A few supplementary bits make their way onto the disc, but they are nothing to get really excited about. There is a trailer for the show, a couple of TV spots, and some character profiles for the good guys and the bad. It's more than most Geneon releases get, but still not nearly as much as other companies like ADV and Funimation sometimes put on their anime.

Final Thoughts:

Let's cut right to the chase; I really liked Viewtiful Joe. I thought that the show was hip, witty, and full of enough action that things kept going at a brisk pace. My only beef with this release is the way that it's being handled. Only getting three episodes on the first volume and being presented with no audio options really put a damper on things. I'm going to suggest a rental for this show unless you happen to be a diehard fan of the game or what's been shown on Kids WB. I hope that Geneon will give us a little more anime for our money in the future, but I'm not going to hold my breath.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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