Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A+
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Bandai Entertainment
- MSRP: 24.95
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Angel Links
Angel Links Vol. #1
By Chris Beveridge
April 17, 2001
Release Date: April 17, 2001
Angel Links Vol. #1
What They Say
© Bandai Entertainment
From the Outlaw Star Universe… Meifon is quite an overachiever for a sixteen-year-old girl. She's the head of a major corporation and the captain of a state-of-the-art ship, the Angel Links - which pro-vides a free pirate-fighting service. And her crew is just as extraordi-nary. Join the crew of the Angel Links as they fight pirates, right wrongs, and seek out the hidden secrets of Meifon's past…The Review!
There's three selling points to Angel Links. One is the fact that it's part of the shared universe of Outlaw Star, something that's not done all that often. The second is the size of her chest. And the third is again the size of her chest. For me, the first selling point was all that it took. Audio:
For the purpose of our review, we listened to this in its original language of Japanese. This is pretty much a standard anime TV series soundtrack with the majority of the dialogue coming through the center channel while the effects and music make decent use of the stereo channels. Dialogue throughout is pretty clean and clear with no noticeable dropouts or other problems. The opening song is definitely the point you want to use as your maximum volume level, and it's a good song as well, though we much prefer the ending song.Video:
For the most part, this is a good looking release. Colors are bright and vibrant, blacks are quite solid and a number of the deep night blue sky sequences are sharp and artifact free. The only reason it was downed on my grading is the rainbowing that's present in the opening and in a number of sequences throughout. The rainbows caused a bit of edge pixellation and jaggies that just didn't come across well on our set at all. This is one of those things that will really vary depending on your equipment, connections and your TV. And whether you notice them or not, as they bothered me my wife didn't notice them at all.Packaging:
This is one gorgeous looking little package. From the seductive (yet chest-covering from the region 2 version) cover picture of Meifon and the coloring style used to the insert and the foldout that just works perfectly. It's a great looking design overall and was one of the few that I pulled out and went over in detail just looking at it. The back cover has a number of animation shots and the story summary as well as listing what the extras included are. The series even has the volume and episode numbering which is always a plus in our eyes.Menus:
For the most part, this is a nice slick looking easy to use menu. The center has a circle where bits of animation play out along with the music while you make the selections. Access times are good and there was no trouble moving around. The only problem we had with it was during the initial load, you couldn't get a cursor control on the screen via remote until the animation played through once. This has crept up on a few other discs across all companies, but was particularly noticeable on the first Blue Submarine No. 6 disc for some folks. At least menu control does come up eventually (all told, it's only about 5 seconds or so).Extras:
The two extras included this time around are pretty good with the main one being the footage from Outlaw Star that shows the Angel Links gang. Unless I'm mistaken, this footage comes from the third DVD collection of that series, which means I haven't seen it yet, so I didn't watch much of it less anything at all be spoiled. To make up for it, I watched the lovely opening sequence many times over...Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When Outlaw Star first started coming out on DVD, many a forum regular here declared it as bad, whether they had seen much of it or any of it at all. To those who hadn't seen it and still bought it anyway, many of us were surprised by this show. It almost seemed like an old school style show with its basic plot, fun characters and simple motivations and good looking animation. Sometimes some shows just click. Outlaw Star gained many new fans.
When Angel Links was announced, and it being a part of the Outlaw Star universe, the same panning occurred. And many folks still ordered it, figuring that if they liked Outlaw Star they'll probably get some enjoyment out of this show. Damn the naysayers! There must be more than Meifon's huge tracts of land!
And to my eyes, this show has one other really good plus; nostalgia. The focus of the show is on 16 year old Meifon Li, a young girl whose now deceased grandfather has requested she form a company that will offer free protection services in the space lanes for those commercial and independent folks who desperately need help from the growing number of pirates out in the universe. Her grandfather appears to be fantastically rich as Meifon has a top of the line ship, several others under her command, and a sizeable office which is in direct view of other similar companies who charge high fees for their protection services.
The crew of the ship is made up of some fairly stereotypical characters, you've got the handsome lieutenant, the blonde female that's deadly and the alien Dragonite, that looks like a small humanoid with dragon skin, head and a tail. The ship does have a larger crew however, with a variety of basic humans in uniforms that get a small bit of screentime here and there and makes the show more enjoyable than the main characters doing all the work. Meifon also tests them through some the episodes, timing them to finish their tasks faster and faster.
There are a few other notable characters who interact with Meifon and the crew as they go about building up their reputation and getting more business, even though it's for free. There's the Leon Lau character whose the wealthy type that actually cares and has an orphanage that he helped build. This allows many cute kids to interact with him and gives him the ability to look good to women. Gordon Hoi early on looks to be one of the main nemesises of the Links Group as he's a competitor to their business that actually charges for it. He initiates at least one plot to try and take down the Links Group but for the most part tries to keep his business going. There are hints of larger things through him though.
So where's the nostalgia? Back in the early and mid 1980's, I and a lot of my friends were huge fans of an old TSR game calld Star Frontiers. Being the classic pen and paper rpg'ers that we were, we built up some sizeable characters and companies for our games where we did almost the same thing as the characters in this show. We had characters that took to the space lanes, that dealt with alien cultures and got into a few fights along the way. In one sense, Angel Links is like a realized version of our games to me, especially with the Dragonite Duuz character.
The shows animation and character designs are pretty solid though with a few things I didn't care much for. The blonde woman just doesn't click all that much but the real offending part is the size of Meifon's breasts. Interestingly enough, they don't become focal points during the majority of these episodes. While they are visible, you don't have the men gawking at her or going on about them. I almost feel that they were added to that level to help sell the shows creation and then were promptly forgotten once funded. Other than that, I really enjoyed Meifon's overall design as well as the numerous Chinese style outfits and the look. Duuz is nicely designed and has an interesting personality so far, especially the swishing tail, and Leon Lau looks to be an interesting character.
The animation itself is pretty nice with some of the usual standard looking scenes as well as some real eye-catchers. The ship launching sequence is done rather stylishly with the only problem of it being reused for almost every episode. But it's a nice piece of eye-candy design so I didn't mind all that much.
The show does follow some pretty standard plots for the opening episodes, but these are more to introduce the characters and the overall feel of things. While I don't expect major jumps in later episodes (as people would have been talking about it being better in the second half), if the rest of the series entertains me like these four episodes did, then I'll be looking forward to them.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Angel Links in Outlaw Star Footage
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.