Mania Grade: A
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- Audio Rating: A
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: 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: Black Heaven
Black Heaven Vol. #3
By David Owens
February 05, 2002
Release Date: February 27, 2001
Yay! Let's just leave the silly exclamations at "Yay!" and suffice it to say that Black Heaven is definitely one of my top 5 series lately, even with all the rather good stuff coming out lately.
This volume doesn't change that, as it's a bit more on the humorous side after volume 2's somewhat serious tone (well, not exactly, but it was more serious than the first volume if you ask me). What goes on? Well, Mulder and Scully make a swing by Japan (no Doggett though, aww), a keyboardist dies in a death that could make any drummer proud, and the ultimate weapon gets steroids.
Anyways, back to the real reviewing...video is as good as usual, maybe even a little bit better than the prior two volumes. IF that's even possible...
Audio is also good. As with the first two, voice acting in the dub is pretty good, and I think at one point, the dub actually captures the intended voice more than the original (listen to the dub of the "big black guy in America" and compare to the original voice. Tee hee. Slight contrast.) (although I will say, the original Japanese voice was amusing for its completely out-of-place-ness) The music here is as good as ever, and some of the sound effects are pretty cool with a surround system.
Looking at the outside of the case, the foil insert card (and the normal cover too I guess) is pretty cool, with a nice picture of Layla holding a guitar, with angel's wings sprouting. Very cool stuff. The back is the same as nearly any other Pioneer case, but I typically don't notice the back anymore due to the covers.
Extras on the disc include the textless opening and ending, which are both pretty cool on their own, plus some line art. Yay, more! The coolest thing, although oddly disturbing, is the weird Black Heaven TV commercials and promos which they include, which star the Japanese bobsy triplets, Kotoko, Eriko and Rinko. Kotoko's voice actress is rather cute if you ask me.
Since the story is where Black Heaven really shines, it's only fitting that I save the best for last. The 2nd disc was pretty good, and focused more on some character development for Oji and the gang, namely some more of Oji's midlife crisis. This disc deals more with Oji's former buds in Black Heaven, all of whom are middle-aged now, and of varying levels of success, from the mall-planning former singer, to the vegetable-selling bassist.
All the guys are pretty funny, and some of their interactions are cool, such as when Oji visits one of their wives and meets his friend's baby boy. Er, girl.
The ultimate weapon gets powered up by the playing of the reunited (minus the keyboardist) Black Heaven, and one of the more amusing moments comes in the middle of battle, when inexplicably, the band stops. You really have to see it to know what I'm talking about, but it's an unexpected bit of humor. :)
The best humor, by far, was in the third episode of the disc, when Mulder and Scully show up to investigate some paranormal weirdness in Japan, and then when Kotoko, Eriko and Rinko decide they "know too much".
The story of how their keyboardist died is just absolutely hilarious, especially the "real version"...and it seriously made me think of Spinal Tap and their spontaneously combusting drummer, for some reason. :) The picture of him in America was also rather amusing....gee, he gets Nanami, Afura, Qawoor AND two other girls?! Lucky guy!
Anyways, these three episodes are pretty much hilarious. Some of the antics of Oji and his former bandmates are amusing at worst and hilarious at best (their in-space performance in battle comes to mind, when they come to a certain part of their song)....all in all, these episodes are more fun and humorous than the three from the second disc, and it's all good.
Black Heaven is quickly re-affirming itself as a fantastic series, one which I'm very glad to have picked up. From the extremely clear video to the great soundtrack and music, to the good plots and unique AIC storylines in the episodes, Black Heaven certainly breaks the AIC stereotypical mold in grand fashion.
Bring on the last volume!
Pioneer Elite 610 HDTV, Pioneer Elite DV-C36 DVD Changer, Pioneer Elite VSX-35TX Receiver, Pioneer ISO-drive speaker setup, Monster component cables and digital coax cable