Beet the Vandel Buster Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: D
  • Menus Rating: C-
  • Extras Rating: D+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Illumitoon
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Beet the Vandal Buster

Beet the Vandel Buster Vol. #1

By Justin Rich     February 14, 2007
Release Date: January 30, 2007

Beet the Vandel Buster Vol. #1
© Illumitoon

What They Say
It is the "Age of Darkness." The world is terrorized by monsters known as Vandels. Standing up against these tyrants are the Zenon Warriors, also known as "Vandel Busters." A young boy, Beet, desperately wants to be a Zenon Warrior, but through a mishap allows the Vandels to inflict a crippling blow to the Zenon Warriors!
In a desperate move, the dying warriors pass their collective life energy into special "Saiga" weapons. Three years later, Beet and his childhood friend Poala rise up to stand against the Vandels, taking up the charge of becoming Vandel Busters themselves!

The Review!
Beet's journey to save the world from the Age of Darkness begins!

The clarity of the audio is one of the bright spots for the series, even though it is only 2.0 there is at least no reverb or dropouts. I watched the entire volume using Illumitoon's English track with no problems and did a spot check by rewatching episode 4 Burning Lance in Japanese which also was problem free. Hopefully as the releases from Illumitoon increase the ability to put 5.1 on there will arise too, for as Beet's battle nature could really benefit from rear speaker explosions.

The most horrific encoding was done during the extras which if it had to be anywhere was probably the best place for it, the "Kanji opening" is a visual disaster that you can't help but rubberneck at like when you drive past a horrifying car crash. For those of you who watch the Japanese track be prepared for gigantic white subtitles. The disc overall isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. There are some bleeding issues especially during the battle scenes where character lines quiver but the background scenery doesn't not appear faded or shimmering which at least gives hope. The first release could have been better but it could have been far worse too.

This cover is an absolute train wreck. I could have made a much better looking cover on my computer than this, which looks like was done in photoshop. The Beet logo is dead center of the top of the disc with terribly faded picture of the Zenon Warriors below it, and an obviously spliced in picture of Beet pasted in front of them with Excellion out. The way too vibrant color on Beet just makes the pale cover look worse from the foil effect. The Illumitoon logo is in the bottom left corner and the ugly red font of the disc title "The Sacrifice" is adjacent to the bottom right. Unbelievably the back cover is drastically cleaner which makes me wonder why Illumitoon would allow the side of the disc that most people to see look dreadful but have clear screen caps on the back?

There is a thirty second sound clip from when Beet is about to enter Mugan's castle playing while an annoying light scrolls back and forth over the Beet the Vandel Buster ring in the center of the menu. There is a picture of Beet with Excellion out and the series logo in the upper left corner and the copyright information plastered in white along the bottom. Horrible yellow lettering is used for the play all, episodes, languages and extras with a change to white for the curser, but the menu is quick and responsive as one plus.

For Illumitoon's initial release the extras are anemic to say the least with only the "kanji opening" of "Emotion" by Sunbrain and "kanji closing" of "Pureness" by Nana Kitade. There is glairing problems with tiling and color bleeding during "Emotion" which is by far the worst encoding on the disc, which overall was far from impressive for Illumitoon's maiden voyage, although "Pureness" was mostly error free. There is also traitors for B't X, Bobobo-bobo-bobo and AM Driver, which all three of these trailers reminded me of carbon copies of the old DBZ trailers that the former FUNimation employees knew all so well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The series begins with the big trend of late of showing a clip far into the future with absolutely no bearing on the beginning of the series timeline. This is turning into one of my big pet peeves with anime, for I don't mid flashbacks but this opening flashforward really throws off the pace of the first episode for me. After that we really begin with Beet as a little kid looking up to the Zenon Warriors an elite Vandel Buster group (demon hunters). Beet signs up and gets branded to join the fight against Vandels (demons) and their monster minions. The relationship between Beet and the Zenon Warriors is fun to watch as they treat him as a kid brother and annoyance at the same time. Also the relationship between Beet and his childhood friend Poala makes up most the interaction between characters early on in the series.

Beet like most Shonen heroes is foolish and impetious and this is clearly seen when he tries to take on a 5 star Vandel. The Star system shows the ranking in the Vandel world with the more stars embedded in the left forearm the higher the ranking. Beet is tossed aside like a rag down and almost killed until Zenon shows up to save him along with the rest of his Buster group. Beet watches helplessly from the side as the group works together to wound the Vandel. Zenon summons his Saiga (soul weapon) Excellion Blade to finish off the Vandel.

After his embarrassment Beet goes off to train with his unusual wake for 72 hours/sleep for 24 system that he has. While training he falls asleep in the pond just outside of the city gate as the King of Tragedy Beltorze shows up to slay the Buster group. The Zenon Warriors all pull out their Saiga's for battle and the huge fight begins, but Beet gets too close and is taken hostage monentarily until he gets a dark attack in the back leaving him dying. Even with the beating the yielding to grab Beet they protected him, and as he is dying it is revealed that Beet is really the younger brother of Zenon and the group uses the life force in their Saiga's to transfer all five to Beet to keep him alive in an emotional set of speeches of how they all felt about Zenon's little brother and how they will give up their lives to save his. With little life left and their Saiga's in Beet the practically dead Zenon Warriors try to attack Beltorze once more meeting their death head on.

There is jump in time line then to start the third episode as we skip over the three years that Beet is gone from the village to do his Buster training, and we begin with the a much more grown up Poala defending the city with her own Buster talents, as a true warrior of conviction with the same demeanor of loyalty towards her hometown that the Zenon Warriors showed towards Beet. Poala decides to take on the Vandel Mugine after he sends his mud lizards into their city killing and injuring many. As a Buster Poala feels she must defend the city no matter the cost and so she will head into bog to bring the fight to Mugine, unfortunately her fortitude doesn't match her experience and she is easily duped and taken captive. As Mugine is about to finish off his prisoner to make his life easier Poala's last thought is of Beet, much to her chagrin, but Mugine has to suddenly shift as an attack comes toward him. Another Buster is with her, causing him total shock since Poala always was a solo Buster.

Beet is back and ready to help save his old friend. Mugine is a coward and will only attack based on conclusive evidence that he can't lose and after checking Beet's level he proceeds under the pretense that Beet is a level 11. But, to his utter confusion Beet kills Mugine's guards with no effort. Mugine calls forth more monsters, which Beet has absolutely no problem with leaving on the Busters and the Vandel left to do battle. Mugine splits Beet's staff and is certain he has claimed victory, but then Beet turns the table by pulling out one of the Zenon Warrior's Saiga, Laio's Burning Lance, and quickly wins the battle against Mugine.

Beet and Poala head home and while Poala's sleeping Beet clears all the monsters out and goes to see the spirit reader who raises Beets level drastically to 28 after reading his retina. He gives the money to Poala's family who rasied him for Zenon before he became a Buster as a thank you showing his noble nature once more. Yet, Beet knew that Mugine wasn't dead since the record was not on his retina and it didn't take long for the Vandel to show up at the gates of Anckles to resume his battle with the Buster who almost took him down. Round two of Beet vs. Mugine will kick off the next volume.

In Summary:
Being a big Beet universe fan I had major concerns with the first series being released by Illumitoon, and for the most part the fear wasn't relinquished by this initial release. The horrible encoding problems in the extras as well as pretty bad bleeding throughout the disc is something that needs to be addressed immediately by the fledgling anime company. On the bright side if you're a dub fan the English track as actually rather good. But I wish they didn't try to replicate FUNimation's habit of redoing opening English themes to make them much more acceptable to the mass public, because nine times out of ten they don't work for the main audience who actually buy the discs and this one is pretty hard on the ears. The series as a whole is very entertaining and the first four episodes have excellent balance and action to lead, at least in content, for a good lead into disc two with Beet and Mugine squaring off. So if you can get past a little of the Freshmen learning curve that Illumitoon has on their first release to go for the content then you should be in for a very enjoyable shonen series.

Japanese 2.0 language,English subtitles
English 2.0 language,Kanji Opening and Closing

Review Equipment
Sony SAVA D9000 Dual Stack DTS w/ 5 Disc Changer in stack 1 and subwoofer in stack 2 via Monster optical cable. Tv is Sony 55" SXRD Grand Wega 1080p widescreen rear-projection HDTV, Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player via HDMI cable.


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