Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Menus Rating: D
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 29.98
- Running time: 75
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Battle Athletes
Battle Athletes OVA Vol. #1
By Ryan Mathews
February 06, 2002
Release Date: December 29, 1998
I have mixed feelings about the Battle Athletes DVD. On the one hand, I had been conditioned by past Pioneer releases to expect a high level of quality. Armitage III and Night Warriors are both examples of Pioneer DVDs with high quality video, audio, and attractive, easy-to-use menus. Because of this, I found the average quality of the Battle Athletes disc very disappointing. On the other hand, if this level of quality means Pioneer can release all future material on DVD, I guess I can live with it.
Let's start with the video quality. I've read the other two reviews of this title (by Chris and by Jacob Hurtado), and I must say I disagree with them about the quality of the picture. While it's true there are no DVD-related image problems, I felt the image could be much sharper. I base this on my experience with other animated DVDs. Ranma 1/2: Nihao My Concubine, also a Pioneer-released title, had an image quality so sharp, it was almost as if the cels were painted onto the TV screen. Battle Athletes is better than VHS, but that's about it.
I won't comment on the audio, as I have a rather simple, two-speaker stereo system. Suffice it to say, I found the sound "good enough".
The packaging I liked. I'm glad Pioneer has ditched the "jewel box falling out of the bottom" design in favor of standard keepcases. I rated the packaging as "A-" only because I wish Pioneer would paint labels on their discs rather than using that engraving process. You have to tilt the disc under a light to make out the image.
Another thing I liked: After years of bitching by the fans, Pioneer has finally subtitled a song. If you're listening to the English audio track, remember to turn on the subtitles during the closing credits. The disc also has two subtitle tracks, a translation, and a hearing-impaired track that presents the dub script. Unfortunately, the subtitles are presented in the cheesy, hard-to-read, white font that seems to be becoming the standard on anime DVDs. It's sad, because the subs don't have to be that way. For an example of how good DVD subtitles can be, watch Das Boot. That DVD has beautiful yellow subs that would look wonderful on any anime disc.
The menu is by far and away the worst aspect of this disc. For one thing, the menu doesn't automatically start when you put the disc in the player, which is annoying for anime since you often want to change audio tracks and turn on the subs before watching. The menu is also maddeningly slow. Worst of all, there is no scene selection! Until I watched Battle Athletes, I'd never seen a DVD without scene selection. I had to pull out my player's manual to learn how to change scenes with the remote. I can't see the sense in not including a scene selection option. A simple text menu would have sufficed. The crappy menu is especially baffling when you remember how good the menus on other Pioneer DVDs have been.
The other reviews have covered the program content fairly well, so I'll leave it alone, except to say that in my opinion, the dub is awful. This comes from someone who is a huge fan of past Pioneer dub jobs. The young characters' voices all sound too old, and there seems to be almost no direction given the actors at all.
Despite all its shortcomings, this disc is still far superior to a VHS tape and worth purchasing if you're interested in 75 minutes of cute girls in athletic situations. I'll be buying the second volume. Hopefully, by then Pioneer will have fired whoever was responsible for the first volume's menu