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Cyberteam in Akihabara: Complete Collection
I really like being able to purchase anime shows in complete sets. No more waiting for a month or more between volumes. Just pop in the next disc and see how the story unfolds. The latest offering from ADV to get the collected series treatment is Cyberteam in Akihabara, a combination of Bubblegum Crisis and Sailor Moon with a bit of Angelic Layer thrown in for good measure. DVDTalk reviewer Don Houston, who has been known to transform into a crime fighting super-hero himself, originally reviewed the separate volumes (read his reviews here: Volumes One, Two, Three, Four, and Five.) and wasn't overly impressed. I have to admit that I agree with his assessment of the series. While this show has some good aspects, it's nothing that hasn't been done before, and usually done better.
Hibari is a school girl who desperately wants the new hot toy: a Patapi. It's sort of a sophisticated Furby (if you remember that fad from several Christmases ago) that you can train and customize (one even has missiles that launch from its head. A nice toy for kids, huh?) While everyone in school seems to have one, poor Habari doesn't. That's until the prince from her dreams gives her one. She names it Densuke, and is happy as can be until the Black Prince shows up. This nefarious character has his minions try to steal Densuke, but when they do the little toy transforms into an armored fighter who bears an uncanny resemblance to Hibari, only with a huge bust, who can really kick butt.
Hibari isn't the only one with a transforming Patapi either, her friends Suzume, Tsugumi, and eventually Kamome all get toys that can transform. Together these four friends team up to form the Cyberteam in Akihabara!
They have their work cut out for them too. It turns out that the Black Prince is working for a secret society called the Rosenkreutz. This group consists of near immortal people who have been secretly shaping society for centuries. Now, through luck or fate, the Cyberteam is pretty much all that stands between Rosenkreutz and the world.
This is an unsatisfying series in a lot of ways, partially because it is trying to be all things to all people. There's the magical girl part of the show for younger females, but there's also a lot of fan service too. The two really don't mix. I can't see many people who enjoy the girls talking about guy they like also enjoying the pantie shots and jiggling DDD sized breasts.
This characters are also hard to get into. Actually I found them rather irritating. They each have a single trait that makes them special, one always talks very formally, another wants to be a pop star, but that's about it. There isn't any effort made to make them endearing or even likable. Most of the time they are so incredibly stupid that it's hard to fathom. (If you were an elementary school girl and you were attacked wouldn't you tell someone about it after the third or fourth time?)
The show is very uneven too. As Don pointed out in his reviews, there are several shows that you could miss and entirely and not miss any plot development. Other shows advance the story a good deal, only to be followed by more filler episodes. These shows where not a lot happens are pretty formulaic and make it hard to care about the characters or the show itself.
It wasn't all negative though. There were some enjoyable episodes along the way, and I was never bored watching the show, but my mind did wander on more than one occasion. The show could have been improved with more character development and a tighter plot. As it is, the program is a bit less than average, but not horrible.
This 26 episode series comes on five DVDs in thinpak cases which in turn are housed in a thick boarded illustrated slipcase.
This show comes with the original Japanese audio track in stereo as well as an English dub in 5.1 Dolby Digital. Though the 5.1 dub is a bit more full and interesting especially during the battle scenes, I enjoyed the Japanese dub a little bit more. Some of the English voice actors were a bit too much over the top for my tastes, and the overacting got on my nerves after a while. Both tracks sounded very good with clear audio and no audio defects.
The full frame color video was good but not outstanding. The show is only a few years old, originally airing in 1998 in Japan, but the colors were a bit on the dull side and the picture looked a tad washed out, which was surprising. The lines were tight though and digital defects were absent. Overall this is an average looking disc.
Unlike the original releases of this show, there are no extras in this collected edition.
This isn't the best show around. With characters that are more irritating than endearing and plot elements lifted from other anime shows, the program doesn't have a lot going for it. It's not horrible mind you, just terribly mediocre. This would make a good rental, but I would recommend people watch a few episodes before picking the set up.