Animation Runner Kuromi -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: All Region DVD
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • 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     September 05, 2003
Release Date: September 09, 2003

Animation Runner Kuromi
© Central Park Media

What They Say
From the director of Fruits Basket, Now and Then, Here and There, and Jubei-chan the Ninja Girl!

Ever wonder what it would be like to work for an animation studio? Kuromi just landed her dream job at the famous Studio Petit, and boy is she in for a rude awakening! The new head of the ultimate team of slackers, it’s up to her to finish "Time Journeys Episode 2," or fans everywhere will be let down. Will Kuromi's love of cartoons clean up this horrible mess... or make an even bigger one?

The 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?

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this OVA in its original language of Japanese. 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.

Originally released to video back in 2001, his is a very shiny looking release. Colors are stunningly bright, backgrounds are wonderfully solid and the animation simply looks great here. The only problematic area is with the cross coloration on some of the tighter drawn sections that had a lot of lines. This was also strongly evident on the Japanese release so it’s definitely a source issue as opposed to the authoring here. It’ll also be varied depending on setup, as it looked stronger on our TV/DVD combo set than it did on the HDTV.

A good bright cover, you get the great sky backdrop set against the “ganbatte!” look ofKuromi and the smaller cast images around her. It’s an eye-catching cover with that kind of backdrop as well as the logo coloring. The back cover provides a nice shot of her holding the surfboard which is where they also placed the technical details. A nice summary of the shows premise fills out most of the rest of the cover as well as the discs features and other basic technical bits. The reverse side of the cover in this clear keepcase uses similar artwork from the back cover with the chapter stops while the other panel provides a list of credits for both productions and the bilingual cast list.

The main menu utilizes the cluttered animators house nicely with all kinds of little bits of imagery scattered about under the selections. The main theme plays along adding a nice little bit of bouncy energy. Submenus load nice and fast and access times are quick.

For those like myself who bought the Japanese release, it’s the extras here that are the most appealing, especially if you really enjoyed this show. The art gallery provides stills from the show and runs just under two minutes in length. The sketch gallery has just under three minutes worth of production sketches to show off. For dub fans, there’s a four minute interview with Lisa Ortiz who plays the lead character. A really great feature that’s included, particularly for people who want to get into animation, is that the entire episode is also done to storyboards on an alternate angle. The directors diary piece is a two minute piece that was on the Japanese release and lets us follow Daichi around a bit in regards to the shows creation, usually quite comical. There’s a brand new interview with Daichi that was done at the Big Apple Anime Festival back in 2002 that runs about five minutes (and you gotta love the promotion of BAAF, since it’s logo is “bugged” into the upper right corner for the duration of the piece). The really big extra that got me really excited is a commentary audio track from Daichi where he goes into all sorts of errata about the show, hints at who is based on who and plenty more.

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.

CPM’s job here has come across great overall. For someone who already had it, the amount of extras really made a difference. In addition, the fuller translation in the subtitles and the onscreen text made a significant difference at times, particularly since signs and such were not subtitled on the Japanese release. Having this and other areas such as the credits fully translated at last is nice.

Having been a Daichi fan for awhile, this was a no brainer for me to pick up. It’s a great little comedy that has fun with the medium and plays things just like Daichi likes to do. Fans of his work will likely get a real kick out of this. With the short running time, CPM has balanced it nicely with copious extras. This is definitely worth checking out.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Interview with Director Akitaroh Daichi,Alternate Angle Storyboard Feature (view entire program in storyboard form),Interview with U.S. Voice Actor Lisa Ortiz,Art and Sketch Gallery,Animation Runner Kuromi Trailers,Director’s Diary: The Animation Process

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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