Mania Grade: F
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- Audio Rating: C
- Video Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: C+
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: D+
- Age Rating: 3 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 19.98
- Running time: 125
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Beyblade
Beyblade Vol. #09
By Derek Guder
September 07, 2004
Release Date: June 08, 2004
Beyblade Vol. #09
What They Say
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
As Kai explores the mysterious Russian abbey, he realizes he was trained there as a child. Boris, the leader of the abbey?s secret Beyblade facility, entices Kai to return and join the Demolition Boys, the abbey?s specially trained uber-team. Kai is tempted by the taste of supreme power and the ultimate prize of the Black Dranzer ? the most powerful Beyblade ever built. Turning traitor, Kai becomes a pawn in Boris?s plot to brainwash Beybladers and take over the world! As the World Championship nears, the Bladebreakers? strongest player becomes their most dangerous enemy. Kai turns on everyone and everything that matters, driven only by the thirst for power and perfection. Who will win Kai?s loyalty?the dark side or the Bladebreakers?The Review!
Even the creators have clearly become bored with the show as we are treated to a string of repetitive fights completely ridiculous plot-twists, all implemented with the smooth skill of a grade-schooler writing his paper the night before it?s due. This volume is supposed to contain a bunch of revelations about the characters? pasts and have some kind of dramatic story arc of betrayal and trust but really, who gives a damn? Certainly not the audience.Audio:
There?s only the dub track here, but I didn?t notice any particular technical
problems with it. The acting remains top-notch as ever. By which, of course, I mean the voice actors had all the emotion of people just reading their lines for the first time straight from the script. Forced delivery, artificial pacing, half-hearted pretenses of even the slightest interest in what?s going on in the show ? all our favorite techniques are here. Not to mention they decided to cast inane and cartoonish voices for most of the incidental supporting cast to turn toss-away or side-line characters into grating sources of annoyance.
So yeah, it?s technically fine, but still nothing I?d actually want to listen to. Then again, it is pretty amusing on double-speed fast-forward.Video:
The video is also the same as the previous volume I?d seen. The colors are vibrant if simple, and the whole production is pretty cheap digital animation. Everything is sharp and clean, but not particularly impressive.Packaging:
On the cover we get one of the evil Russian Beybladers in an action-pose before a snarling bit-beast, and the back gives us the usual sell-quotes and random images. There?s also an insert that has the cover image on one side and episode titles on the other, but that?s about it. I?m not quite sure why one of the Demolition Boys, who don?t get a whole lot of screen time, gets the cover instead of someone like Boris or Kai, who the volume really focuses on.Menu:
The menu comes up with the same spinning Beyblade motif used on the previous volume, and all the sub-menus are very simple and straightforward. Everything loads nice and quickly as well.Extras:
The back cover claims that it contains exciting Beyblade promos for the toys and TV show, but they?re really just bland commercials that make it clear that the toys themselves are as boring as the anime makes them out to be.
There?s also the usual set of trailers for Geneon?s children shows.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I?ve apparently skipped a volume since I last saw our intrepid heroes engage in a good ol? Beyblade battle, and a lot has happened. The mysterious and aloof Kai finds his way to abbey that reveals itself to be a super hi-tech training ground for the massive company Biovolt. What?s more, it turns out that Kai had amnesia and his lost youth was actually spent training in this very abbey. And if that wasn?t enough, the reason he lost his memories was because of a mishap with a Beyblade so powerful the scientists could barely contain it (and had to resort to good ol? chains-on-a-pedestal-under-a-spotlight in the basement, which is a sure-fire way to control a dangerous artifact if all else fails).
So the maniacal and evil monk/criminal mastermind/international businessman Boris triggers Kai?s memories and tempts him to leave the Bladebreakers not for the promise of money or other material concerns, but for the power and perfection that only this all-powerful Beyblade, the Dark Dranzer, can provide him. Not knowing any of this, the Bladebreakers try to force their way into the abbey to rescue Kai, but are forced to duel with the bad guy?s team of Beybladers. Despite a lot of smack-talk and dramatic posing, they back down once the abbey admits that Kai is inside, giving some story about Kai having a fever. The abbey promises to let them see Kai once he?s better, and the heroes, ever-trusting, disperse.
In the next episode, Kai still hasn?t shown and no one really seems to suspect anything?s amiss, though they at least say that they?re worried about him. The remaining team proceeds to the arena for the world championship where they run into several old friends and rivals. We are treated to a drawn-out match between some Russian Beybladers and the laughable American team, the All Starz, who are all ridiculous stereotypes of different sport players. First there?s a football player who kicks his blade in combat, then a basketball player who slams a basketball that unravels to reveal a blade inside. Their team leader is a baseball pitcher with an Eagle for his bit-beast. After the abbey?s Demolition Boys win the first two rounds, Kai makes his appearance to take on the entire American team at once and completely embarrass them by beating them without a sweat ? and then stealing their bit-beasts. It?s obvious that he?s completely obsessed with power by this point. Had Kai been given any character traits before other than being the loner of the group, you could say that he?s acting completely out of character.
After wiping the floor with the American stereotypes, Kai?s hubris completely possesses him as he alone takes on the White Tigers, an animal and jungle-themed team of Beybladers that are apparently old acquaintances. They were out for revenge for what Kai did to the Americans, but they only end up giving Kai more bit beasts to absorb. Their pathetic show doesn?t even take up half the episode, with the rest being filled with the Bladebreakers breaking into the abbey to get the real story from Kai himself. After dodging a bunch of other kids, Tyson comes across what seems to be Boris?s master plan ? to remove all mercy, compassion and joy from bit beasts to turn them into the ultimate battling animals. He also confronts Kai, who tosses away and abandons his old blade Dranzer. Having seen Kai?s true loyalties, the Bladebreakers leave and prepare to face their former comrade in the ring, despite some tears and shock.
The next morning Kai sends a helicopter to fly the Bladebreakers out to a remote frozen lake in Siberia (remember the history lesson we got in Paris? We get the same guided encyclopedia tour for Lake Baikal) so he can taunt them some more and challenge them to an unsanctioned fight to steal their bit beasts too. Kai easily beats them one by one until Max, who had been at the airport to see his mother off, actually parachutes in with a new and improved super-version of his blade to save the day. His attack allows Tyson to use Kai?s old blade to knock him off balance and then the entire team?s bit beasts unite to defeat Black Dranzer. The battle breaks the ice on the lake, but the Bladebreakers show their true colors as heroes when the work together to rescue Kai ? proving to him that a team is always stronger than one individual and all that jazz. Kai also has a whole several seconds of angst when his self-esteem is shattered by the loss, but that?s quickly glossed over.
In the final episode on the disk, Kai rebels against Boris, spending some time trashing the control room before escaping to rejoins his friends for a welcome back party where the surprisingly convoluted back-story is revealed. Apparently, the Biovolt corporation wants to use genetically engineered bit beasts to brainwash humanity and take over the world (and to serve as super-soldiers). Apparently Kai?s grandfather, Voltaire, is the ultimate mastermind behind everything. The old Bladebreaker?s patrons and Tyson?s grandfather shows up to reveal that they have been manipulating the team to thwart the evil Russian plans. Even Tyson?s father shows up to give an expositional speech explaining how bit beasts are really some kind of supernatural spirits or totems from ancient times that sealed themselves into objects until awakened to serve again. Apparently, it is only through trial and hardship that the five young boys could be made to trust and rely on each other, and now they are the perfect team to stop the bad guys.
Being bad guys, of course, Boris and Biovolt can?t let the Bladebreakers well enough alone, of course, and their massive helicopter runs their van off the road and force them into another battle to try to steal the heroes? bit beasts again. It?s over pretty quickly, and we?re left with a cliffhanger after the Demolition Boys manage to steal Max?s new and improved bit beast and make good their escape. Vengeance is sworn, of course, but that will have to wait for the next exciting volume. Or something.In Summary:
Over the course of 5 episodes, we get a bunch of boring, predictable battles between laughably flat characters interspersed with some deranged plan to brainwash/control the world through spinning tops and some inept and trite characterization for a few characters. I suppose leaving behind the ?one opponent and episode? format the show was stuck in during the last volume I saw was an improvement of sorts, but Beyblade
is still as tedious as before, with the same insipid dialogue and jokes that not even an 8-year old would find that funny.
I can?t believe it?s gone on this long, and I?m sure that Beyblade
has quite a ways to go before we?re finally free of it, but it?s still just as worthless as ever.
Panasonic CT27SX12AF 27" flat-screen TV; Koss KD365 DVD player; Onkyo TX-SR501 receiver; RCA 6-piece home theater speaker package; Component video and optical audio connections