Blue Seed Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 3 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 175
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Blue Seed

Blue Seed Vol. #1

By Josh Galloway     February 06, 2002
Release Date: January 30, 2001



The Review!
It looks like ADV is getting around to releasing their older titles on DVD. I always had a little interest in this series, but now that DVD has replaced VHS in my mind, I wasn't going to buy it until a disc was released. Well, it happened and I was pretty happy. The first disc of Blue Seed contains 7 episodes, which seems to be their recent treatment of TV series (sadly, Eva and Nadesico aren't getting released like this; my guess is it's their way of pushing their less popular stuff through). The results of watching it are a bit mixed, but it's mainly a content issue rather than encoding.
Audio:
Pretty good here. Although the age of the material shows in the video department, the audio is still doing fine. There is use of directionality for some bits of the dialogue and also for a few of the effects. I listened mostly to the Japanese track, sometimes backing up and switching to English to hear how a phrase was worded. This was done specifically because the subtitles didn't seem to accurately reflect what was said. Strangely, there were some instances where the English dub was closer to the Japanese script than the English subtitles! The opening song is okay; it sounds like a modern version of a military anthem when the chorus kicks in, kinda like the Sakura Taisen opening song. What really struck me was the ending song, "Touch & Go!!" done by Megumi Hayashibara, who is the voice actress for the main character Momiji. She and Kotono Mitsuishi (of Evangelion and Sailor Moon fame) are some familiar and welcome voices in the show. Hayashibara plays an innocent school girl who sounds more like Lime (SMJ) than Rei Ayanami (EVA). Mitsuishi plays a hot-blooded weapons expert, and it surprised me to hear her using an Osaka dialect! I thought it was neat that ADV included a Spnaish language track, but I didn't get to check it out yet. The English cast seemed fine fro what I heard, although Takeuchi's voice actress sounded too old for the part. An interesting side note is that in both this show and Evangelion, Amanda Winn acts for the role that was originally done by Megumi Hayashibara!

Video:
This department carried the biggest let-down. Being that Blue Seed is an older TV series, the animation doesn't appear that hot. This aside, the adventure began with a fair amount of grain that was distracting. It got a touch better as the episodes progressed. I didn't notice the strong presence of rainbows, but this could very well differ on other players. The character designs vary; the female characters are pretty cute, while it seems like not much time was spent on the guys, specifically the chief of the TAC, who looks like a throwback to the days of Lupin III. It seems like a lot of money was pent on the CG that appears in the intro, though the rest of the intro looks pretty cool. I personally enjoyed the ending animation which was simply manga-style images of Momiji that were very attractively drawn, and fit the song well.

Packaging:
I think the packaging is pretty spiffy. It features all seven main characters (minus the bespectacled Shinto girl who popped up in the intro.) and Momiji's late sister. It's a bit busy-looking, but it didn't bother me. The front also had a little circle saying "7 Complete Episodes!" like the Sorcerer Hunters disc, which I think is misleading. If I buy a DVD, I expect it to be a given that the episodes are complete. I suppose they are trying to play up the fact that there are seven episodes, but I think the wording is off. Shamanic Princess, an OVA, boasts 6 complete episodes, which to me means that the story is wrapped up. Not so with Blue Seed, which I presume is a 26 episode series. The back cover gives a good amount of information, with some cool screenshots and a 12+ warning at the top right corner. It lists the extras, which has a misprint that I'll talk about in the Extra section of this review.

Menus:
Menus are okay; no animation but some songs from the show are used. Everything is found quickly and easily. I kicked around a bit looking for secrets, but found none so far. There's no jacket image for the DVD to use as a background, either.

Extras:
The back cover lists Omake Theaters, Bios, Original Trailers, Textless Intro, and ADV Previews. Surprise!! There are no original trailers or a textless intro! I wasn't too happy finding that out... Perhaps it was a goof and these items are intended for the next disc. I would have given this section an A+, but I was forced to reduce it to an A- because of the empty promises. That aside, the extras are cool. The disc has two installments of "Omake Theater" which are hilarious self-parodies of the show (with a good share of Super Deformity). These are true gems, and I wish studios today would do this kind of thing. Oh, and they dubbed them in English so you can choose your language. Also included are character bios for Momiji, Kusanagi, and one of the demons. I would suggest not reading them, though, as I found a spoiler about Kusanagi on his page. I expect more goodies on the next disc!

Content:
This was a surprise! The first episode sets everything up very seriously. The sense of danger is well-established, and at one point a secretary is brutally killed in a way I thought was pretty graphic for a TV series. Then come the next 6 episodes... comedy! fan-service! After seeing the first episode, I wasn't expecting this at all! Not to say I didn't enjoy the rest of the disc, but I think it could have shifted more gently.

Blue Seed takes place in Japan in the present, where a sudden surge of demons called Aragami has caused the government to create a special task force for eliminating them. It's a sci-fi comedy with an ancient spritual twist. We learn that a certain family was in charge of keeping the balance in check, but now only one heir remains. That heiress is Momiji Fujiyama, a small-town school girl unaware of her duty. These seven episodes set up some of the back story and focus of Momiji joining the task force in Tokyo and meeting its members. After the second episode, each episode focuses on a specific member of the group, and also on a new Aragami appearing and how they defeat it. Each Aragami has a different form from the last, some resembling animals and insects, while some are stranger and are more obviously plant-related (oh, and the Japanese monsters don't have very scary voices; the English ones are more convincing). The last episode on the disc gets back to some seriousness and plot.

Overall, I enjoyed the show despite its age and video issues. I look forward to more discs in the future, and learning more about the mysterious parts of the show. If the back cover description piques your interest, you'll probably enjoy this as well.



Review Equipment
Sony model DVP-S530D, 14-inch Magnavox TV, and an Aiwa stereo

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