Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: All
- Region: 2 - Japan
- Released By: Yumeta
- MSRP: 4800„
- Running time: 40
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Animation Runner Kuromi
Animation Runner Kuromi
By Chris Beveridge
January 01, 2001
Release Date: January 01, 2001
Animation Runner Kuromi
What They SayThe Review!
Animation Runner Kuromi is a simple and light hearted story about the trouble of making an anime show come in on time. This stuff doesn't happen by magic you know, lots of people work really hard to make deadlines and great looking anime. Or do they?
Being a Japanese release, there's only one language on it. Of course, it's what we watch practically all of our anime in, so there's no real change here. This is a pretty straightforward stereo mix with music and ambient effects in the left/right speakers and the majority of dialogue coming through the center channel. It's pretty solid overall with no noticeable problems.
This is a very shiny looking release. Colors are stunningly bright, backgrounds are wonderfully solid and the animation simply looks great here. The only part that annoyed me at times was rainbows on some of the tighter drawn sections that had a lot of lines, but compared to the overall visual look, this disc is a high ranking one. Of course, it's also a very recent production so that helps.
The release is in a typical keepcase with a nasty hub that took some effort to get the disc safely off of. The front cover has a nice shot of Kuromi doing her job. The reverse side has a few more pictures and a cast and staff list along with a good box at the bottom detailing the specs (something that appears to be near-standard on Japanese releases that really needs to be adopted here in the US). Inside the package we get two nice postcards, a cute black and white manga strip sheet and the insert that details how to use the menus.
The menus are laid out in the form of a production sheet with superdeformed versions of the cast scattered around it. With our language skills pathetic in this area, we can't really discern more of the menus other than trial and error. They're pretty functional and and access times are good.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
My first impressions of this show, with its basis around an animation studio and the production managers who run it, was Otaku no Video Lite. Of course, the show lacks the hard edge of that Gainax classic, but it wasn't setting out for something satirical and insightful about the anime industry in Japan. It's goal is to simply have some fun.
The show was done by current fan favorite director Akitaroh Daichi, whose been responsible for Kodomo no Omacha (Child's Toy) and the US release Jubei-Chan. His trademark style is obvious right from the start, when we open with a blue sky and the main character, Mikkiko Oguro is bicycling her way to her new dream job at Studio Petit. It's highly reminiscent of the Jubei-Chan openings.
Mikkiko is introduced to the current production manager who shows her around the small but fun looking studio and he explains the way everything works. But it doesn't take long until his mysterious illness kicks in and he books it out of there, leaving Mikkiko (whose referred to as Kuromi by everyone else) in charge of the production schedule for Time Journeys episode two. Time Journeys provides the segueway between sections with parts of the eye-catch and openings used with the "Time Journey's!" title being called out during it.
With noon time creeping up and Mikkiko now in charge of the schedule, the rest of the staff slowly but surely shows up. Well, those who actually come to the office as most tend to do their key animation at home and away from prying eyes. Mikkiko tries to learn what to do from Hamako, the director for the imperiled episode two of Time Journey's. There's normally five weeks or so of time for each episode, but things have been so slack that there's less than a week before the 312 total cuts that are due to be sent off to the in-betweeners for completion so they can make their airdate and not miss their slot.
Missing the slot would be disastrous.
Mikkiko ends up racing all over town and meeting with everyone trying to get them to work harder and faster all while learning her job and dealing with the myriad number of personalities that make up an anime studio.
Animation Runner Kuromi is a fun little episode that generated a good number of laughs from me. There's plenty of things to watch for if you're an observant fan with toys snuck into he background as well as Mikkiko's fascination with a Lupin-esque character that helps her keep her spirits up when things only look close to disaster.
This show certainly won't change the world, but it's definitely something that likely would never be picked up for release in the US due to it being a single episode and industry-oriented. This appears to be one of the first products put out by Yumeta and they've done a bang up job. Their website shows off various pics of the studio where the show was created as well as some other neat bits. Definitely worth checking out.
I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what else they put out and hope that they try to do more English subtitled works along the way. My money's just waiting for them.
Japanese Language,English Subtitles
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.