Mania Grade: NA
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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: 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 Nicholas Paufler
February 06, 2002
Release Date: April 17, 2001
As the webmaster of OutlawStar.Org, and a fan of Outlaw Star in general, it really was my duty to at least check out Angel Links and see how it fits in with the established continuity. You can't imagine how pleased I was with how entertaining the show ended up being.
This was watched on my PC so I don't exactly have a stellar setup for truly appreciating DVD's. I also have a fairly high tolerance for DVD quality issues: it's pretty rare that I'll notice rainbowing and other bits of minor artifacting. Unless you're especially sensitive to such issues, I'd expect most people will find the visual quality to be excellent. As this is a very recent show (2000, I believe), the source material is superb: the colors and vibrant, the animation is smooth, and it generally looks as good as any TV source anime DVD to date.
I'll also point out that the animation seems to be of consistently higher quality than Outlaw Star was. OLS suffered from some really bad shifts in animation quality episode-to-episode. It was often a mixed bag, and even the main characters were frequently drawn differently (there were far too many cases where my beloved Suzuka looked like a man!).
Again, this was a PC viewing so my trusty Altec Lansings were providing the sound. I exclusively listened to the original Japanese language track and it sounded crystal clear to me. I was also happy to note that the DVD didn't suffer from fluctuating volume and I was able to set it at a comfortable level and not need to adjust it at any point. Absolutely no complaints.
The actual aural content, too, was more than satisfactory. The voice actors and actresses fit well with the animated characters and nothing felt out of place. The opening song, "All My Soul" is a bit of a mixed bag that picks up when the tempo shifts about halfway through. The ending, True Moon, continues the precedent set by Outlaw Star with both Tsuki (moon) in the name (see: Tsuki no Ie and Hiro no Tsuki, OLS's two ED songs), and visuals entirely unrelated to the show. I quite like the ending theme, and its easily on par with OLS's endings.
Menus and Extras:
These have already been covered in the main review so I won't go too in-depth. Simply put, the menus are fast and functional and do the job just fine. Even better, they don't have the exceedingly high volume level that the Outlaw Star DVD's did. The extras were a little disappointing, but I guess I've been spoiled by some of the really cool and unique extras appearing on other disc's.
I've read more than one review of Angel Links on the web and for the most part, people have been panning it quite badly. This is highly unfortunate as I think people are approaching it wrong. While Outlaw Star harkened back to earlier anime storytelling, with it's relatively simple but highly entertaining adventurous romp, Angel Links goes even further back. I can think of no better comparison than Thunderbirds 2086 and its ilk. At the surface you've got all the stereotypes of 70's and early 80's sci-fi anime. The super-powerful ship that can change to meet mission needs; The obscenely powerful weapon that is only called out to deliver the finishing blow; The overly long and complex launching sequence; the wealthy grandfather that provides unlimited wealth. And bridge bunnies . how I've longed for the return of bridge bunnies! And they're here in full force. I really do get the feeling that the creators were trying for a campy show that captures the essence of the silliness of those old shows. Sure, you've got what's shaping up to be a fairly serious story about Meifon's past, but realistically, Angel Links is just about having a good time and not having to think too hard while doing it.
The bit of ecchi-ness thrown into the mix (nudity in the opening, Meifon's decidedly large assets, the creature living in her cleavage, etc.) does seem gratuitous, but I think that was the intention. One can't help but smile at every angle that is best showing off her breasts, and in all honesty, it really does fit the feel of the show. Like the length launch sequence, the glamour shots and poses are more quaint than perverted. It is safe to say, though, that it's not likely to be making an appearance on Cartoon Network anytime in the near future.
I'll throw in a brief note on the main crew as well. Meifon has managed to grow on me through the first four episodes and really established a personality for herself. The token bridge bishounen (who's name escapes me at the moment) seems to be getting setup for a potential love triangle between himself, Leon Lau, and Meifon. The two characters that Outlaw Star introduced us to, Valeria and Duuz, are getting some personality injected into them to go along with their character redesigns. On an entirely offtopic note, the name of the captain of the Angel Links fighter squadron is subtitled as "Jaeger", but I'm wondering if this might not actually be a mistake and "Yaeger" might actually be the intention. Chuck Yaeger, of course, being a famous US Air Force pilot renowned for his work as a test pilot. Sunrise productions frequently feature such references so I think its a definite possibility.
And finally, being a bit of a mecha-head, a comment on the look of the technology. The Angel Links itself is superbly done, handily beating the Outlaw Star in terms of visual appeal. While the immortal Shoji Kawamori is no longer involved, the mechanical designer, Kazutaka Miyatake fills in quite nicely, expanding on the design aesthetic that Kawamori conceived. The consistent visual style between OLS and Angel Links is quite appealing, both for continuities sake and for the fact that it's just a very, very cool style.
Angel Links is definitely on my "must buy" list, now, being one of the only anime series' I've seen in recent memory that has actually had me grinning while watching it. While I enjoy the political intrigue of Gasaraki and the deep story of the Rurouni Kenshin OVA's, it's awfully nice to just sit back and take a series at face value and enjoy the hell out of it.
Should you buy it? If you want more action in the Outlaw Star universe, this is your chance. If you enjoy nostalgic series that don't take themselves seriously (without degenerating into parody), go for it. Angel Links isn't a revolutionary series, though, so if you're tired of old anime stereotypes you'd best look elsewhere. Again, it's also not a cost effective series to purchase, so bargain hunters look elsewhere. Ultimately though, I'd say Angel Links is worth adding to most anime DVD collections. It's pretty clear what Sunrise' intentions were and on every account they achieved their goals. As long as you know what you're getting into you should have a blast.
Win98se PC using Cyberlink PowerDVD 2.55 for DVD playback. Creative Labs Soundblaster Live! feeding Altec Lansing ACS 45.1 speakers. Matrox G400 videocard connecting to an ADI Microscan G910 Trinitron monitor