BASToF Syndrome Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: BASTof Syndrome

BASToF Syndrome Vol. #1

By Luis Cruz     May 11, 2004
Release Date: May 04, 2004

BASToF Syndrome Vol. #1
© ADV Films

What They Say
The year is 2097 and in the city of Xenon, the ultimate cyber game, where players fight as bio-mechanical cyber robots, has been created. But something's wrong. Somehow, the game's cyber space and the real world are linked. The damage that occurs in the game?s cyber space creates destruction in the city of Xenon. It all starts when the players hear a piercing scream, see the ghostly face of a little girl and a powerful scent of lemon overcomes them.

To solve this mystery, the creator of the game assembles a "Dream Team," the top three young gamers in all of Xenon. This team of rebellious, arrogant teens must overcome their attitudes and fears to find the answers, answers to the mystery that are much bigger than the game.

The Review!
The "Lemon Game" (no relation to Led Zepplin's "Lemon Song") begins as ADV attempts to introduce a taste of Korea to the US market. And the taste is not half bad.

The original Korean language track was used for my primary viewing session. The track was crisp and clear with no noticeable distortion or dropout. Dialogue and music was mixed well with neither overshadowing each other. Action is played across the front soundstage nicely.

The English language track was also sampled for two episodes; ADV has done a great job dubbing this series. The dub script does alter dialogue a bit, but the changes all fit the tone and style of the characters and source material. My only niggle would be with the voice actor for Pseudo; he just sounds a bit too old for the character. Overall, both audio tracks will provide an enjoyable experience.

Produced in 2001, the video is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio and has no issues with print defects, grain, or scratches. The transfer looks very clean producing rich colors; there are a few quick movement scenes that look like they might be suffering from some aliasing. However, I am not certain if the effect I am seeing is a style choice made for the artwork or an actual defect. In either case, these moments are quite rare, and the overall video experience is quite beautiful.

Pseudo and his virtual persona take up the majority of the front cover. The only other touch on the front is the series name and volume title near the bottom; it is a simple but eye-catching cover. The back cover contains the requisite screenshots, synopsis, episode listing, and disc specifications. Inside is a one-page insert containing the front cover art on one side and a listing of the disc contents on the other.

ADV keeps the menus nice and simple; a static image of one of the characters appears in each menu, as does a sample of music from the theme songs. There are no transition delays switching between menus.

Clean versions of the opening and ending animation are the only extras included on the disc.

Content:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In 2097, the city of Xenon was built on and thrives on the power of a dormant volcano. It is in this city that Mint and Pseudo have carved out a niche for themselves as two of the city's greatest game players. After confronting each other at a skate park, they soon find themselves caught up in the mysterious and realistic virtual reality "Lemon Game".

Lured into the game by another top gamer Bebefau, Pseudo and Mint both see a little girl's face in the middle of the game. She screams and the scent of lemon fills the air while their head feels like it will explode. The pair soon meet the game's creator Captain Moderato; in an effort to try to understand why the game is out of control and beginning to spill into reality, he attempts to form a group of top gamers that will combat the out of control Lemon.

Add in an amnesiac girl named Tiel and a series of mysterious omens, and the basic plot for the series has been introduced in the first five episodes. When I first sat down to watch this, my interest was merely to see what sort of work was being done in Korea. The description of the series made it feel like a clone of the usual young adult material being churned out from Japan; to a certain extent, this holds true.

You have the standard cast of characters attempting to band together to fight a mysterious foe. Pseudo is the brash, unpolished, but talented boy that is reluctant to join. Mint is the rich girl that would rather play video games and rollerblade than play at high society. Bebefau is the slightly more mature character that tries to maintain the balance of the group despite their many quirks. Throw in the eccentric Moderato and his two young sidekicks Bomb and Pudding and mix for good effect.

The plot is what makes the title stand a cut above the rest. It contains several layered mysteries that our characters must solve. Nine years ago, the Lemon Game exhibited the same behavior before disappearing. Despite being its creator, Moderator cannot log into the game and must resort to using gamers like Pseudo to do the dirty work in the virtual world.

I can appreciate the fact that the series is not relying on some sort of gimmick (card game, capture the X, etc.) to try to drive the plot. The writers are attempting to tell an intriguing and creepy story; however, it just has yet to really click with me. While better than most of the other young adult material out, there is still a "by the numbers" feel to the series that keeps me from being engrossed by it.

One thing this release is missing would be liner notes; it is easy to find on-line references that can guide you through the cultural nuances of Japanese culture. However, Korean culture is new ground for most everyone likely to pick up this title. A few brief notes on a few items would have been useful and helpful. Examples of items that could have used an explanation are why the characters refer to each other a brother or sister and why they ask people to "respect their words".

This is definitely a series to keep an eye; it is not the greatest material in the world, but it has potential and is better written than a number of titles that are currently popular. Will Korea be the next big animation exporter? If this title is any indication, it just might.

In Summary:
While not something that immediately appeals to me, BASToF has the potential to be a huge hit with the young adult market it is targeted at. Featuring some amusing characters and a mystery filled plot, it has the tools and potential to stand a cut above the rest of most of the titles you can see on afternoon and Saturday morning television. Definitely a title to keep your eye on, consider picking this series up if you are looking for an alternative to the current crop of imports marketed to the young adult crowd.

Korean 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening & Closing

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Pioneer DVL-919, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and audio cable


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