Mania Grade: C
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: B-
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: All
- Region: 3 - Southeast Asia
- Released By: Other
- MSRP: 25
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Bastof Lemon
By Paul Grisham
May 26, 2003
Release Date: August 29, 2002
What They Say
Released by: KD MediaThe Review!
With Korean DVDs becoming more and more popular in the Asian import scene, it was only a matter of time before a complete, animated TV series got a Western-friendly release. Bastof Lemon
presents some interesting ideas, and the DVD looks and sounds pretty good, but a few critical technical shortcomings, a slow moving, often incoherent plot, and poor artwork will likely prevent it from catching on.Audio:
The disc includes a nice stereo mix that really shines during the action scenes. My only complaint is that quiet conversational scenes appear to be mixed with the dialogue driven exclusively out of the center with music and effects too quiet. The effect is similar to the mismatched levels I often complain about with English dub productions.Video:Bastof Lemon
is a completely digital show, and the transfer is bright and clear. It loses points for being interlaced, and for showing some distracting aliasing.Packaging:
The disc comes in a clear keepcase with a two-sided cover. The outer side features a rather ugly picture of Pseudo and some funny, not-quite-incorrect �Engrish.� There are a few screenshots, some Korean text, and the standard DVD specs in English. The inner side features a sketch of Pseudo. Basically, I didn�t like the packaging for the artwork they chose (Pseudo is really ugly) and the crowded layout.Menus:
The menus are functional, but kind of bland. Most of the options are in English, and those that are in Korean are fairly easy to decipher. I wish that the subtitle selection menu would clearly indicate the currently selected language option.Extras:
The extras here are essentially useless unless you understand Korean. The centerpiece is the 7-minute documentary, but I couldn�t make heads or tails of it. The cast biographies and production credits are static pages of Korean text. The image gallery does have some nice shots, but there are far too few, and, in fact, one of the images is repeated.Content:
(Please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers.)Bastof Lemon
is the kind of show that feels like a committee decided to make a cartoon with anime elements, but didn�t understand exactly what makes modern, Japanese anime appealing. There are kids piloting giant robots, anime-like character designs, and some pseudo-religious rambling, but somehow the whole thing never really comes together.
In the near future, some sort of disaster has left humanity centered in a handful of futuristic metropolises. In the city of Xenon a group of teenage gamers, members of an exclusive gamers� hall of fame, have been recruited to join the Lemon Game, a virtual reality robot simulation that operates on the shady side of the law. The four episodes on this disc do little more than introduce the three gamers " annoyingly arrogant Pseudo, cute but feisty Mint, and competent and handsome Bewefau " and show how they are recruited to join the Spearhead, a team of defenders in the Lemon Game. The game apparently has some connection to the real world, since destruction in the game seems to cause power outages in the city, and players hurt during the game come out wounded. There is a hint of some mystical force that might be influencing or being influenced by activies in the game.
With the story just barely underway, it is difficult to tell if the series is worth continuing. There were enough mysteries and clues to keep my interest, but the production is so generally sloppy that I have difficulty trusting the producers to tell a worthwhile story. I am sure that most of the problems I have with the way the story is being told stems from the awkward subtitles. There are phrases that simply cannot be parsed and several lines that read exactly the opposite of what was obviously being said. It is frustrating to follow the exposition when the words just don�t make any sense.
The art design is wildly inconsistent. Character designs range from generic anime styles, to outrageously ugly. One of the main characters, Pseudo, is so awkward looking, that he resembles a reject from Initial D
. He and Modesto, the older leader of Spearhead, wear clothing so improbable that it is hard to take them seriously as characters. On the other hand, Mint is so inoffensively cute that she practically demands to have a fanboy cult following. Bewefau could have come straight out of any Japanese series. The overall effect is similar to some of the recent American cartoons that mimic the anime style without quite getting it right. Japanese and American animation studios often outsource filler animation to cheaper Korean animation studios. In Bastof Lemon
, the characters are so frequently off-model, that you have to wonder if they outsourced to themselves.
Action scenes often look spectacular, however. Some of the fights within the game are fluid and exciting, with lots of expensive looking effects. In addition, I enjoyed some of the set designs, even though they reminded me of the kinds of locations you might find in a Square RPG, from the skyscraper skate park, to the game center with its monolithic satellite dish, to the offshore village with rickety shanties and spider�s web of elevated sidewalks.
In addition to the previously mentioned subtitle problem, the DVD design will probably bother many anime fans. Like Pioneer USA�s Battle Athletes
release, the episodes here are laid out end-to-end, with a single OP at the start and a single ED after the episodes have run. There are only four chapter stops, one for each episode, which makes navigation difficult. Fortunately, the OP and ED are completely creditless, which should placate some picky viewers. I honestly have no idea if the show originally featured eyecatches or previews with each episode, but there isn�t evidence of any here.
Ultimately, Bastof Lemon
is a show that tries to hard, and doesn�t try nearly hard enough. It�s a tough recommendation both for the sloppy DVD production and for the relative blandness of the show. Unless you know Korean, or are particularly interested in Korean TV, it�s fairly safe to give this one a pass. If you�re looking for something a just little different, an animated series that feels different from Japanese anime, but without the condescension of American adventure cartoons, check around and see if you can find the disc for cheap. It remains to be seen, however, if the story becomes more engrossing as it progresses.
Korean Language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo,English Subtitles,Making Film Documentary,Character Profiles,Production Credits,Image Gallery
Panasonic Panablack TV, Panasonic RP56 DVD player, Sony ProLogic receiver, Yamaha and Pioneer speakers, Monster cable. (Secondary equipment, Pioneer 105s DVD-ROM, ATi Rage Fury Pro, ViewSonic A90f, PowerDVD 3.0)