8Man Vol. #1 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: N/A
  • Video Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: N/A
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: Imagica
  • MSRP: 5000¥
  • Running time: 95
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Eight Man After

8Man Vol. #1

    July 23, 1999
Release Date: July 23, 1999

8Man Vol. #1
© Imagica

What They Say
Contains episodes #1 thru #4 of the classic sci-fi action Anime ''8-Man'' aired originally in 1963 on TBS Network. Includes an interview with the author, collection of original art, and selected highlight sequences.

The Review!
Sure, we all know about what happened to "8Man After." But what happened to 8Man before?

This first volume of a 14-disc set contains the first four episodes of the show that ran in 1963 (and which later saw an English-dubbed release on American TV as Tobor, the 8th Man). It's black-and-white, it's offbeat, and boy, is it ever fun.

The first episode opens up with a shootout between a number of crooks and Hachiro Azuma. As he handcuffs one of them, the remaining crooks run him over with a car. The camera spirals away from his dying form.

The mysterious Dr. Tani finds him, and takes Azuma's body to his laboratory. Azuma wakes up to find himself an android, with his human body lying dead as a doornail on the table next to him. A moment of grief, and Azuma resolutely goes back to work -- only this time with a few android powers to back him up.

The first episode also introduces Chief Tanaka and a pretty teenager named Sachiko. By the second episode she's taken on work at Azuma's office as a receptionist. Later episodes introduce an office boy named Ichiro. The villains range from machine gun-toting gangsters to crime lords to costumed kidnappers, but they don't stand a chance against 8Man unless he runs out of energy.

The case features some nice color artwork on the front cover. The disc itself has an elegant, single-color design that leaves several areas "unpainted." The shimmering DVD underneath forms a cool piece of line art that contrasts Azuma-san with his android alter-ego, 8Man.

The disc plays immediately after spin-up; I had to push the "DVD Digest" button on my Apex remote to get to the menu right away (otherwise, the disc plays through all four episodes before taking you to the menu). The menu has an engraved-steel design of 8Man in the background, with English as well as Japanese text to help you navigate. Color only highlights the selections; black-and-white dominates this menu. The top menu has selections for "Play," "Chapters," "Character Introduction," "The Story Digest," and "Supplements."

Video quality on this disc looked mostly clear, with no DVD artifacts that I could see. The source material (film, from the looks of it) has occasional specks and scratches, however. Each episode forms a chapter, so you'll have to use your scan button to find a specific scene within each episode. This disc has these four episodes: "Birth of Eighthman," "Geilen the Killer," "The Satan's Brother," and "Death Elevator."

"Character Introduction" has listings for Hachiro Azuma, Dr. Tani, Mr. Tanaka, Sachiko, Ichiro, and "Guests." Clicking on each listing will take you to a page with a still of the character and Japanese text on the side.

"The Story Digest" gives English as well as Japanese titles for each of the episodes, along with a still from each episode. A block of Japanese text, possibly containing a synopsis, runs alongside each still.

"Supplements" contains four sections. "Eighthman Graffiti" lets you page through ten color scans of 8Man artwork. Running alongside each still is a block of Japanese text and a date from the 60's. Page 4 features the artwork used on the cover of the DVD, with "1964" as the date. "Interview" (according to CD-Japan's website) is an interview with the author. "The Greatest Scenes" features ten stills of moments from the four episodes on the DVD, such as 8Man's awakening, 8Man/Azuma's reaction to seeing Azuma's former human body lying dead on a lab table, and 8Man's first transformation. And "Staff and Cast" has pages of credits in Japanese.

And now, a word about the content.

The animation of 8Man looks rough, even by anime TV standards. With no English subtitles to distract one's attention, the technical flaws stand out. I've yet to see an anime character's lips perfectly match the Japanese dialogue, but this show has lip-synch that sometimes drifts off-course by as much as two seconds. Not every drawing looks perfect -- once in a while 8Man even looks cross-eyed. The motion of the characters pose no threat to Disney. And 8Man's transformation sequences (involving two drawings apiece) pale in comparison to the elaborate transformation sequences of modern anime TV shows, such as Sailor Moon.

This show's strength, then, lies in its style. Each character has a clear and distinct design, and the backgrounds have a wonderful 50's line-art quality to them. The animators exploit the "cartoony" designs; you get to see some cute cartoon gags in this anime (such as a tiny police car that bulges as twenty or thirty cops pile into it).

Another strength of the show is its sense of fun. When you have an all-powerful robot that can mimic anyone's appearance (T-1000, eat your heart out) but smokes fuel cells that happen to look like cigarettes...well, c'mon! Y'gotta have fun with that concept. And the animators do have fun, from the crook who gags on one of 8Man's "cigarettes" to Sachiko plucking Azuma-san's fuel cell out of his mouth in a concert hall and reminding him, "No Smoking." Also, when he's not using his powers to infiltrate the criminal underworld, Azuma sometimes uses his android speed and shape-shifting abilities to fluster the gruff Chief Tanaka.

Is 8Man for you? Sure, if you dig superheroes, quirky humor, 60's TV animation, and a robot who occasionally looks like he's dying for a smoke. I plan on picking up the rest of the DVD volumes when I get the chance. Folks looking for the darkness of 8Man After or the visual rush of Memories, however, should pass this one up for something that had more of a budget.

Optional Japanese DVD subtitles for the opening/ending animation,Character Introduction,The Story Digest (synopses of each of the episodes on this volume),Supplements ("Eighthman Graffiti" "Interview" "The Greatest Scenes" "Staff and Cast")

Review Equipment
Apex AD-600A and a 17" computer monitor hooked up to an InstantTV.


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