Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: N/A
- Packaging Rating: A-/
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: B
- Age Rating: 15 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 180
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Bastard!!
Bastard (Regular & Limited Edition)
By Nicholas Paufler
February 06, 2002
Release Date: June 04, 2001
Ahhh . Bastard! One anime series I've been looking forward to seeing ever since I first heard about it. Really . swords and sorcerer . a dark wizard named Dark Schneider . virtually everything named after heavy metal bands . what's not to like? The good news is the DVD is a smashing example of how to do Anime on DVD right . well, mostly, anyway. I, of course, picked up the Limited Edition release such that Dark Schneider could find a home on my toy shelf. But now . on to the review.
I've just recently purchased a standalone DVD player (Panasonic DVD-RV31) . unfortunately, I watched Bastard! the week before, so it too gets reviewed based on my experience watching it on my PC. The video quality truly stands out on this disc. I made a concerted effort to look for rainbowing and other artifacting and was pleased that I didn't see anything of the sort. Likewise, given that this series was originally released in 1992 (if the back of the DVD cover is to be believed), the source is in immaculate condition. Colors are solid and fit the mood of every scene. No complaints here whatsoever.
As usual, I watched this in the original Japanese language track. It's your typical stereo mix that does the job effectively. Nothing really stood out in my mind as especially good or bad. The Japanese seiyuu were all great and truly brought the manga characters to life. Everyone played their character with just the right balance of camp and seriousness. The bad news is my spot checks of the English track did not turn out so favorable. To be blunt, they were awful. From what I heard the dialogue wasn't changed too much but the English voice actors never really seemed to get into the characters and as a result the dub suffered greatly.
Wow. Pioneer is really establishing themselves as the king of menus. Mad props to whoever was responsible for the great work done on the menus and transitions for Bastard! and Trigun, which are, in my opinion, the best yet. Not only do the menu's look cool, but they access quickly and are quite functional. All marks of successful design in my book.
Nothing to speak of, here. The real "extra" is the action figure included in the limited edition release. I'll cover that below.
It's really too bad that Bastard! only got a 6 episode OVA. The characters are interesting and play well off of each other, the universe is cliché enough for much fun to be had, and Dark Schneider truly is a badass. That gripe aside, this is one of the best values for your anime dollar today. I love it when you can get an entire OVA on a single disc and I hope that it becomes the standard in the future. As for the show itself, it's equal parts D&D, Nadesico-style parody, and the occasional breaking of the Fourth Wall (i.e. characters in the anime talking to you, the viewer). If you're looking for Berserk style seriousness or Excel Saga's outright parody you'd best go elsewhere. Bastard! falls in between the two giving a nice balance, the result of which is just a fun series. I won't really go into the plot as I don't have nearly enough room to do a full summary. In short, though: Peaceful kingdom under attack from overwhelming forces bent on resurrecting a dark God. The only hope of aforementioned peaceful kingdom is the very dark wizard they imprisoned hundreds of years ago. Pour in half a cup of fan-service, chill, and serve =)
One final note on the content that will be a huge disappointment to anyone who's read the Bastard manga or previously seen it fansubbed. All of the Heavy Metal names are gone! Metallicana is subtitled as Meta-Rikana. Anthrax as Ansala'Sax. Mega Death as Mega'Dsu. Ministry as Ministoria. This totally sucked and I was even more surprised when I read the credits and saw that it was Neil Nadelman who'd done the translation (the surprise being that Neil is one of the best in the biz, and a nice guy to boot). Greatly
confused, I fired off an e-mail wondering what had happened with the translation. It seems that the Bastard!-ization (ducks incoming projectiles) of the translation was not an accident, nor was it the decision of the American studio that did the translation (ZRO). It seems that Pioneer Japan was so afraid that the crazy American bands would sue them that they forced the names to be mistranslated. So yes, it sucks and it's very disconcerting since the mistranslations just don't sound right. If you're watching the original Japanese track you can definitely hear what they're really saying while the Animaze dub has the English voice actors saying the mistranslated names. Aurgh. Since this was a move precipitated by Pioneer Japan and not Pioneer USA I won't count it against them.
Limited Edition Bonus: Dark Schneider Action figure
This is the other big disappointment in the package. Basically ArtFX is in the process of releasing a line of action figures based on Bastard! and this bonus is a repaint of the Dark Schneider "Jugulator" version. While the sculpt is reasonably good and the paintjob is decent, posability borders on comical. His ankles rotate, his arms rotate at the shoulder, his elbows have both a swivel and a hinge joint, and his wrists rotate. That's it. Head is
fixed. Zero posability in the legs. Yes, zero. Ol' Darsh here just can't move below the waist. Even by McFarlane "It's-a-statue-not-a-toy" standards this is really bad. Tack on the lamest excuse for a base (small round black disc with no detail) I've ever seen and a gimpy looking sword he can't even hold and you've got a real loser here. This is absolutely not worth the money if you actually take your toys out of the package (like I do). Maybe you "collector" types will think differently, but I give this two thumbs down.
What we have here is a near perfect anime DVD release and one that deserves to be in almost everybody's collection. Pioneer seems to really understand what it takes to put out solid Anime DVD titles and this is no exception. Mistranslations aside, I really can't think of any reason not to like this release. I will recommend against the Limited Edition release, though. The pitiful excuse for an "action" figure really isn't worth your money.
Overall (not an average): 5/5
Win98se PC using Cyberlink PowerDVD 2.55 for DVD playback, Creative Labs Soundblaster Live! feeding Altec Lansing ACS 45.1 speakers, MSI GF2Pro videocard connecting to an ADI Microscan G910 Trinitron monitor