009-1 Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: 009-1

009-1 Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     May 10, 2007
Release Date: June 19, 2007


009-1 Vol. #1
© ADV Films


What They Say
In a world where the Cold War never ended, East and West continue to battle for technological and political supremacy. Mylene Hoffman, field commander of the elite Double Zero intelligence division, exists in this world with her eyes open and her body always ready to do battle. She puts the intelligence into "intelligence agent" and her body into "body of evidence!" Liberating benevolent scientists, tagging along with would-be monster-slayers, meeting her match in the world's most hard-boiled assassin and navigating a deadly labyrinth of horrors are all in a day's work for Mylene. There's no problem she can't solve with the proper application of high explosives, fast-talk, deceptive jewelry, make-up and the right moves behind closed doors! In a world of -spy mystery and intrigue, discover who she kisses one minute and kills the next.

The Review!
Mixing babes and guns with a big dash of style, 009-1 has plenty of the obvious but ties it to a lot of solid atmosphere.

Audio:
The two mixes on this disc are pretty different though each of them has their appeal. The Japanese track is done at 224 kbps in stereo though it has a lot of bass to it. Sometimes it's almost overwhelming in how it plays out but it adds a lot of impact to the action sequences and to the music. The English 5.1 mix is done at 448 kbps and has much the same impact but it's spaced out a bit better with sharper clarity overall. Both tracks come across very good here both in terms of providing dialogue placement and overall action effects. While we listened to this primarily in Japanese, we didn't have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track.

Video:
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With lots of varied locations, the series has a great looking visual palette to it that's almost theatrical at times. Colors are great throughout and there is a real slickness to it at times without it being too glossy. The show looks solid in general though there is a bit of aliasing cropping up from time to time during various camera pans. These aren't all that frequent however. The first episode has some noticeable noise in the backgrounds in a few scenes but it seems to become more minimal as it progresses and barely noticeable throughout the remainder of the disc.

Packaging:
Using different artwork than the Japanese release, the front cover is a subdued yet stylish piece that features 009-1 under a spotlight. The character design is certainly appealing and sexy enough and with a heavy dark focus around it the artwork stands out all the more. The logo is the latest piece from ADV Films to get the silver foil treatment and it adds a mild yet just right amount of shine to it without being distracting or gaudy. The back cover adapts the styling of the eye-catch for its layout and in-between the ribbons it provides a breakdown of the shows premise. A few shots from the show are across a strip while the bottom portion features the usual production information and clear technical grid. The release also includes a booklet that looks to be almost the same style and dimensions of the Japanese one. It provides several pages worth of character artwork and a breakdown of the world concept. A couple of very interesting interviews with the creative staff are also included.

Menu:
Taking elements from the eye-catch for the overall design with the ribbons running across and then some of the character silhouettes from the opening, the menu design has a good of garish sense of color. Rotating large bands of color in the background while changing it out over the thirty or so seconds it runs, it's almost hypnotic to watch " until you get to some of the more garish colors. There's a bit of action instrumental music playing along to it which is decent and sets the mood well enough. Access times are nice and fast and the navigation is quick and easy. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets without issue.

Extras:
A good selection of extras have made it onto this release that will likely please fans of the show. In addition to the clean opening and closing sequences, there's the original interview piece that features the various staffers involved with the show. It runs almost seventeen minutes long and covers some good basics of what went into the show. A really welcome extra here is several text pages detailing the origins of the show in its manga form. This is something that really helps to flesh out the show for those that love the little details about it. Also included is a multi-page weapons and gadget breakdown that has conceptual pieces of artwork and explanation of what each of them is.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Not too surprisingly, little has been said about 009-1 by western fandom. Up until the title was licensed it hadn't received much buzz and even from them until receiving this disc there wasn't much said. This is actually a great shame as this is a series based off of manga by one of my favorites, Shotaro Ishinomori. I had fallen in love with his style after my exposure to the Skull Man manga and he's had a few shows released here such as Kikaider and Gilgamesh.

009-1 is based off of his manga from the late sixties and it shows. Like a number of shows that have been animated in the last few years who have their origins in this time period, 009-1 takes the design style of the original and balances it out with the fluidity and style of modern animation. Rather than re-imagining it to today's standards or smoothing out the character designs to what would be considered more common, this feels exactly like it would have been animated back then but with the technology of today. Of course, this particular style is also one that is likely to set off a good number of modern western fans.

Directed by Naoyuki Konno who hasn't handled too many shows in the capacity and with a series composition by Shinsuke Onishi who is also in the same boat, the show is set with a fairly episodic format that strikes a strong resemblance in some ways to Najica Blitz Tactics. In a quasi-alternate near future setting where the world is seemingly split into a Western and Eastern block, it revolves around a young woman codenamed 009-1. Working for the intelligence side of the Western Bloc, she's the super spy agent who along with a few other 009's do the dirty work that needs to be done out there. Her origins are fairly unclear at this point though she does talk about her childhood at one point and how she became what she is now is left unsaid.

As a cyborg, she's naturally competent at the kind of jobs she's assigned though they take an odd turn by providing her with breasts that are actually guns. With a number of gadgets built into her, such as the ability to hear when a bullet is fired with enough time to react, she's also got a nice complement of gadgets along the way including a plasma gun. Others seem to have more diverse abilities within the 009 group including one that can take on the appearance of others. The show isn't too clear on what kind of technology is really in place in the world though as fantastic as it does get at times it still falls within some reasonable bounds of believability for the most part.

The four storylines that are spread across this opening volume are fairly diverse though somewhat typical of the spy genre. In one episode she has to figure out what a faction of the Easter Bloc's intelligence division is up to as armistice talks are about to be finalized. Another has her going head to head against a very stylish hitman who has her on his list. One rather interesting storyline has her assisting a group within her own military who deal with eliminating and controlling various mutants that crop up in society. Even data retrieval is on her docket as the last episode deals with her having to acquire some high tech secrets that have been taken along with the scientist behind it. There isn't anything terribly original in these story concepts but in their execution it all comes across great.

While it's not style winning out over substance, the style used here is simply beautiful at times. I adore Ishinomori's character designs. Though the men tend to make out badly here in general, the women really do shine in their own way. Long legged, filled with fluidity in movement, even the amount of bounce in the breasts don't seem to get in the way. Combine the character designs with the great location settings and numerous detailed backgrounds and it just comes together in a beautiful way. In the third episode, there's a scene where 009-1 comes out of the water against a sunset that was just stunning to look at. The design choices for the series will likely be difficult for some to deal with though, particularly with the men, since many are practically eyeless and often bald. These "classic" designs stand out because they aren't the norm but they're also very well done.

In Summary:
With little idea of what to expect these first four episodes wowed me nicely. Watching it in a completely darkened room at night and letting it fill my field of vision, 009-1 is quite the treat to watch. Even as common as the stories may be, they're executed with a great sense of style and pacing that makes them feel fresh and engaging to watch. Ishinormi's style really shines well with current animation techniques and this series just captures the senses. With a good selection of extras and background and plenty of attention paid to the overall presentation, this one is likely to be considered a diamond in the rough by the few that will venture out to try it. And just like finding that diamond, those that do will find it to be quite worthwhile.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Interview with the director and staff,How the manga became an anime,Information on the weapons and gadgets in the show, Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 480p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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