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 Roman Martel
February 06, 2002
Release Date: April 17, 2001
Overall Rating: 3.7
(on a scale of 1-5)
English Acting: 2
Intro All it really took for me to check this series out was the phrase, "from the Outlaw Star Universe". I enjoyed Outlaw Star a great deal and when I saw the trailer I was intrigued with the idea of the independent space force fighting off the pirates and doing good. Add to the fact that we meet part of the Angel Links Crew in Outlaw Star and it made it even more tempting. Well, just how does this series measure up? I'll just say for now, Outlaw Star is better.
Technical Review Angel Links has a pretty solid technical release. The picture and sound were excellent especially in comparison to another DVD I watched the previous night. It was a bit strange but the Japanese track seemed to have louder and clearer sound than the English track did. The menu is pretty straightforward. It's got some motion and music but it's not as fun as some of the other menus we've seen (Sol Bianca, and Trigun come to mind). The keepcase has all the info except its missing the channels of sound used. Inside you get an insert with a short bio on Meifon Li, our heroine in this series. For goodies you get a short segment from the Outlaw Star episode Law and Lawlessness. You also get the credit-free version of the opening credits (that's a better look at Meifon for all you Fan-service fiends out there). With top-notch sound and picture this series really looks great.
Content Review This is just one of those shows that I'm not sure what frame of mind I'm supposed to watch it in. Is this one big joke? Is this trying to be a fun space adventure? Or is this the animators having too much fun for their own good? What's going on here?
Well in this story we got Meifon Li commander of the Angel Links Security Force. They spend most of their time protecting cargo ships and other helpless innocents from attacks by pirates. It seems that this is done for free, because of a promise Meifon made to her grandfather on his deathbed. So Meifon uses her money (inherited from Grandpa) and creates the Angel Links group. In the first episode they rescue a Transport mogul from the clutches of some pirates (is this handsome stranger a love interest for Meifon!?). In the next adventure they save a poor cargo pilot from the clutches of some pirates. In the next adventure they save a priceless artifact from the clutches of some pirates. In the final episode they save a huge space-faring beast from the clutches of some pirates (see a pattern here?) It's all in the name of fan service and blowing stuff up!
I do know that the animation is very good. This series has some great looking shots and is beautifully drawn and executed in the visual sense. It doesn't have the problems of the funky character drawing that plagued Outlaw Star. It also has some seamless looking space battles and hand-to-hand combat. The opening credits give you a pretty good taste of the style and quality of the animation. The ship design is pretty good. The Angel Links is a huge, gaudy, fluffy looking ship, but it's also armed to the teeth. The character design is also pretty good. Meifon is huge, gaudy, and fluffy and armed with a cat that turns into a sword. Weird. The two characters who appeared in Outlaw Star, Valeria and Duuz have gotten a character redesign (almost didn't recognize Valeria there). The supporting cast is all pretty typical. The ships and weapons do stand out in the design department and that gives this show a bit of a boost. You also get plenty of fan service in each episode. Meifong is always posing just right, or wearing the tightest outfit she can find or twisting just so. So if you are feeling a bit cleavage deprived, you'll love this series.
Most of the sound work is pretty good. It was mostly original sound design. I did recognize some of the sounds used in Outlaw Star but since we are in the same universe it all works fine. Of course with new ships and weapons we got new sounds. The huge super cannon and the launch sequence are all filled with some good sound design.
As to the story line, well this is where I'm having a big problem. I'm not really sure what the creators were going for here. If this series is a huge joke, making fun of itself and the genre, it's doing it in a very subtle way. So far this is an episodic show. There seems to be no over-arcing plot at all. That's not a problem really. What the problem is that the stories are simple and very straightforward. The characters are paper thin cut outs running around blowing things up. In a way this could be trying to capture the feeling of an old cheesy anime, with updated animation and sound work. In that case it's got the simple cheesy factor down pat. The main reason I think this is a satirical show is that you've got all the elements of an old cheesy anime. You've got the young captain giving you fan service. You've got the stoic crew member, the cool under fire second in command, you've got the pretty boy advisor, you've got the huge ship with it's ultimate (overkill) weapon. And of course you've got the set up for a love triangle with our captain, the pretty boy crewmember and the dashing transportation mogul with a heart of gold. Next, just look at Meifong and her chest. I said the same thing when I saw Amazing Nurse Nanako, there is no way you can take any of this seriously. Just look at her. But even if this is a satire, there is something missing. The fun and the tongue in cheek humor. I didn't really laugh much at the situations or the way things were going, it was just happening and you watch it happen. Were they trying to be subtle? Maybe. Or maybe this show is really supposed to be a fun space adventure. In that case this didn't really happen either. The plots are too simple and are resolved by our hero's blowing up all the enemies with the huge cannon or by taking out all the enemies single-handed. There is no tension or excitement... it just happens. Needless to say I'm not sure where I stand on the plot. It's not a really bad series of adventures, but they aren't too exciting either.
The acting is also kinda weird. I think the English cast was a bit confused on how to approach this. Should they play it super cheesy and over the top, or do they play it totally serious. Well it seems like you get half-and-half. So the result is some people doing the parts with your typical voice acting. Then there are those that just go that extra level and overact. The script seems to have been reworked in the dub to be more over the top and so the cheesy level increases. This was a good idea but the mix of acting just ruins the script. I think the actors should have decided to ham this up and have fun. Instead you are thrown for a loop when you get an over the top actor and then a deadly serious one. The Japanese is more even tempered and seems to be approaching this in a more serious vein. I don't know which is better in this case; they're just different.
The music isn't bad. The songs are good, but nothing that really caught my attention. The score is perfect for the classic cheesy anime style. It's big. It's loud. It's full of over the top moments. It fits the cheesy aspect of the show perfectly.
Bottom line, was this entertaining? Not really. It was dragging quite a bit. And it wasn't as if certain episodes were dragging, all four of them were just not very interesting. This series has potential but for some reason it just seems to be missing the mark in several areas. It might be able to pull itself together in the next disc but I won't be surprised if it just falls apart by that point. I'll give it chance but I'm not holding my breath.
Roman J. Martel
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