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Burst Angel: The Complete Collection
FUNimation // Unrated // September 29, 2009
List Price: $79.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Burst Angel is a 24 episode TV show that FUNimation released on six DVDs back in 2005 and 2006. Created by the fine folks at Gonzo, the program is heavy on the action but doesn't leave characterization and plot by the wayside either. With a perfect melding of traditional and computer animation, the visuals are very appealing, and they really stand out in this fine looking Blu-ray set.
In the not too distant future,
It turns out that these girls make their money by performing hazardous jobs for an unknown contract agent. They are good at what they do, but it turns out that their mercenary lifestyle can also endanger their domestic help. It isn't long before Kyohei is helping the Angels out on their missions.
The first episodes of the show give a good introduction to the series while setting up some mysteries for future volumes to explore. Who is the mysterious person who hires them? Just how are all these women related? It is obvious that Jo and Meg have some kind of connection too. But why is the fighter so protective of her less able companion? These questions are eventually explored and that makes for a satisfying series.
There is a lot of action in this series, which I enjoy, but the thing that surprises me is that there isn't much fan service. I was really happy to see that. It seems that anytime you have a show that involves women with guns, there is more time spent on watching their cleavage bounce than actually fighting the villains. Yes, these women have unrealistic skimpy clothes, and there is the occasional peak at some underwear, but it isn't something that they dwell upon; there aren't any guys getting bloody noses and fainting every time a woman walks by. Aside from the clothes, the character designs were pretty good. None of the characters have grotesquely large breasts, they all look fairly normal.
Of course one of the things Gonzo is famous for is their ability to seamlessly mesh 2D and 3D animation, and this show is no exception. The CGI mecha fights look really good, but they animation style isn't so different from the backgrounds and other characters that it's distracting. If you've seen any of the myriad of shows where the CGI animation sticks out like a sore thumb, you'll know how nice it is to have a nice meshing between styles.
There are some nice touches that the animators put into this series too. They spent a lot of time including little background details that add a lot to the atmosphere of the show. There are holographic billboards that pop up overhead as drivers pass through tunnels and they made sure that the glow from a computer screen would highlight the users face. It is little touches like these that make Gonzo such a well respected studio.
The Blu-ray Disc:
The entire 24 episode series comes on three 50 GB Blu-ray discs that are stored in a pair of cases, which in turn are housed in a nice slipcase.
The AVC encoded 1080p 1.78:1 image looks very good. The SD DVDs were nice looking, but these are even better. The colors are strong with a good amount of detail: Images waver as they are seen through the rising heat of a fire, and the glow of a CRT display lights up Amy's face. The lines are tight and the picture is clean. As far as digital defects go, I notice some light aliasing in a very few scenes (and only in the background) and some minor posterization is present. Neither are distracting and are only noticeable if you're really looking for them.
This disc comes with the original Japanese language track as well as an English dub, both in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (the back of the box lists the Japanese track as being presented in DD 5.1. This is incorrect.) I preferred the Japanese track, but there wasn't anything wrong with the English track. They make good use of the soundstage, with a good amount of directional effects. I thought that the voices that come from the rear speakers were mixed a little high, but that wasn't a big deal. There are optional English subtitles which sometimes overlap with text on screen, but only very rarely.
FUNimation ports over many (if not all) of the extras from the SD release of the show, this time presented in HD (unless noted). There are commentary tracks to six of the episodes, but they aren't that interesting. They are 'party' commentary tracks, where everyone has a good time laughing at each other's jokes and kidding around with each other, but little of interest is said.
The set also contains the OVA episode, Burst Angel Infinity, which wasn't as entertaining as the show itself. I'm not sure why, but OVAs frequently have trouble capturing the excitement of the original show, and that's the case here.
So would you like to watch the best scenes from the show one more time but only have an hour and a half before you have to catch a plane? No problem. This set also includes Battle Record of All 24 Episodes. This basically trims the series down to 84 minutes concentrating on the battles. It's pretty pointless, but what the heck it's here.
One of the coolest bonus item is entitled Ugetsu Hakua (Character Designer) Special. This 2 ½-minute short looks like the opening to a sequel series. It looks very cool, showing the Angels a few years in the future. Meg has matured and is competent, Ami's a high school student (or that age at least), Sei is the business woman-type. When duty calls they leap into action, ready to kick ass and take names. The most poignant shot in this short clip is Kyohei, who's dressed in a cook's uniform standing outside of an impressive castle. He's achieved his dream of being a chef, but he has a wistful and slightly sad look in his eyes as he stares off into the blue sky. This is a great way to wrap up the series, and I hope they're considering making an entire show based on this opening.
There is a series of Japanese Staff & Cast Interviews (presented in 480i/p) that run a little less than half an hour all together that gives viewers a good look behind the scenes. Not so interesting is The Lightness and Darkness of Jo (presented in 480i/p) another nearly half hour featurette that consists of clips of Jo taken from the series. Like the Battle Record, I can't really see anyone sitting down and watching this.
Wrapping up the bonus sections is a series of previews that aired promoting the series when it was on TV, a preview of the OVA, an outtake reel, clean opening and closings and some FUNimation trailers.
Though my interest waned a bit in the middle, this show ended up being pretty good. There was a lot of fun action and the fan service was not distracting and obnoxious. There was a nice overall story, though they do lose sight of that during some filler episodes, they remember at the end and wrap things up nicely. A fun series that I'm a little sad to see completed, Burst Angels gets a strong Recommendation.