Burn Up W: Essential Anime Collection - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: C-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 120
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Burn-Up W

Burn Up W: Essential Anime Collection

By Derek Guder     October 21, 2004
Release Date: August 31, 2004



What They Say
Team Warrior is no laughing matter for the criminals of Neo-Tokyo. Led by the fearless Rio, this top-secret counter-terrorist force will stop at nothing to preserve the peace, or at least their version of it. From assault by bungee jump to giant mecha destruction, Rio, Yugi, Maki and Lilica spare no extreme in the forging of their own brand of justice. Plagued by kidnapped virtual idols, financial woes and marginally restrained violent proclivities, the members of Team Warrior skate the edge of comic insanity to bring you Burn-Up W.

The Review!
This is one of those oldies that I had fond memories of, but doesn't really stand up to repeated viewings.

Audio:

The Anime Essential re-release ads an English 5.1 track, just as most of the rest of the line have. The original Japanese is still in stereo, and they kept the Spanish stereo as well, which was a bit of a surprise.

My initial viewing of this volume was in English and it seemed pretty solid. Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be much use of directionality or any other benefits of the 5.1 setup, beyond a slightly richer sound. It doesn't suffer from any particular problems, at least, and is a solid product. The quality of the acting is a bit mixed, but better than I had expected from something of its vintage, only the worthless token male character Yuji (not Yugi as the back of the case indicates) every got really annoying. Most of the cast is adequate, though Rio does have moments where she's really fun, as does the commander, Maki. One character that really did have some spark in the dub, however, was the panty-store owner. The mole-man performance was actually rather amusing, even if he only had a single scene. Chisato, a later bit character introduced simply to fuel Rio's mad-revenge power, was also a surprisingly strong and endearing performance in the dub.

There are some significant differences between the sub and dub scripts, which is sure to anger any purists, but most of the dialogue changes or additions work reasonably well, managing to squeeze in a few more jokes. What I found it really annoying, however, was the non-verbal performances (grunts, cries, screams, etc), which were added to scenes that were otherwise silent in the original Japanese more than once.

And speaking of the Japanese, it was only really adequate itself. Rio's voice actress, while rough at times, does have a few spots where she really snaps into character and makes it fun, but almost everyone else was pretty pedestrian. There were few stand-out performances, so the dub came across somewhat flat, even though it didn't really suffer from any errors or outright problems.

I only sampled the Spanish track for a scene or two, just to check it out. The dialogue was crisp and clear, but it seemed like the sound effects were a bit muted or simply quiet. I was also rather confused when the sniper's cooler shouts out one word in a deep, manly voice when she opens it. I have no idea if that was in the original release, but either that's got to be some kind of error or the Spanish dub director was having the kind of fun that would give most hard-core fans a coronary. Sadly, I don't have the time to re-watch the show in its entirety yet again with a third language track, so I have no idea if that kind of incidents pops up again.

Other than that, the Spanish dub performances seem a little worse than the others, a bit reserved or unemotional. Even with the apparent error in sound effects and the talking cooler, its inclusion is a welcome surprise. It's always fun to have yet another language track to sample just for variety, let alone being able to show anime to a wider audience.

Video:

It's almost a decade old now, and it shows. Burn-Up W is not as vibrant or lush as most anything audiences are used to these days. The coloring is a bit dirty and muted, and there's the slightest drift in most scenes or stationary shots – but it doesn't seem to be the fault of the transfer, just an artifact of the show itself. Everything looks about as good as it's going to get: not flashy or impressive, but off-putting.

Packaging:

The cover's the same as the original, non-Essential Anime Collection release, with the addition of the purple bar at the top and bottom. It's a simple image of the three most active members of Team Warrior, though it's also the only time we see Lilica in her combat suit. The back cover has a collection of small shot progressions and the sell text, along with Maya the sniper cradling her rifle. There's also an insert has what I suspect was a cover from a volume in Japan, with Rio done up all anime ninja-style.

Menu:

The menus are pretty simple, though with a vague cop-computer-database theme. At the main menu, you select episode titles, "dispatch lingo" (languages) or "evidence" (extras) using a pair of crosshairs. Everything responds quickly, before the background music can really get on your nerves.

Extras:

Aside from some previews, the only extra provided is the inclusion of the original Japanese credits. It includes the untranslated Japanese credits, so it's not a clean opening and only those fans who want to try their Japanese skills are likely to be very interested. The actual animation doesn't seem to be different from the opening for episodes 3 and 4.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

This DVD contains all four episodes the series, just like the original did. There is a connecting plot through each of them, though the conspiracy moves behind the scenes for the first half and only comes to the foreground with the last two episodes. Sadly, it's never resolved as the show ends without a chance for the villains to bring their evils plans to fruition or for the police heroes to even find out what's really going on.

The first episode shows only a hint of the evil conspiracy, as they use a bunch of half-wit dupes to take over a meeting of international VIPs and provide a distraction while the dignitaries are exposed to a "virtual drug" (and at least a bit brainwashed). It isn't long before Team Warrior is called in to deal with the situation, of course. Their plan is to pretend that they're giving in to all the ridiculous demands made by the scapegoat terrorists to see if they're really professionals or not. When they learn truth, of course, they just storm the place and take everyone out with ease.

Looking for a distribution route for their virtual drug, the evil conspiracy faces off against another drug syndicate and lays waste to them pretty easily using an advanced android obviously designed by some otaku, seeing as how it's not only deadly but a gorgeous sex-bomb to boot. Team Warrior is assigned to investigate the disappearance of a popular virtual idol (Maria, a cute-girl type designed for the other otaku out there), which is somehow of essential importance to the evil conspiracy's virtual drug, though we never learn how. When the idol escapes the conspiracy and tries to claim a kidnapping ransom on herself, Team Warrior faces the attack android with a robot of their own: El Heggunte, which looks just like a squat Evangelion Unit-01. Of course, it goes berserk and destroys everything (complete with an "ALART" warning). As the episode closes, we find out that the tech-head, Nanvel, was able to upload the virtual idol's data into the giant El Heggunte, though it's not cute enough for her.

Episode two was, by far, my favorite of the series. It has the most fanservice and the funniest comedy parts, especially the Evangelion parody. Sadly, nothing from that episode really pops up again later in the show, aside from Nanvel herself. I was really hoping for some cute-talking Maria/El Heggunte cameos, but such is not to be, it seems.

The second two episodes share a continuing scenario. Angered at the police getting a hold of some of the virtual drug technology in a surprise raid, the evil conspiracy attacks "Police Town" (i.e. the police station) directly, using brain-washed minions and super-soldier's who have had been given superhuman powers through the application of the virtual drug. The first to die is a character introduced in that episode solely for the purposes of getting killed to drive Rio into mad-revenge-power. Strapped for cash and hiding from her creditors, Rio stays with a friend, Chisato. She teases her about having found a man and we get some nice character interaction between the two, but it signs her death-warrant just as if she had said she was "two weeks from retirement" in an American cop movie. When the bad guys attack, Team Warrior is galvanized and ready to face them. While the normal police die in droves like flies, Maya and Rio get super-weapon power-ups and face off in one-on-one fights with a pair of psychotic villains (one super-strong, the other super-fast). They are, of course, defeated without any significant loss, and the traitorous police officer hidden in HQ is captured with ease. The only tension was just how much clothing Rio would have to remove before winning.

In Summary:

I'd originally seen this quite a while ago, and it was definitely something I had remembered as a fun fan-service action romp from my days of first heavily getting into anime. I'd bought the original DVD release a year or two ago, but it hadn't survived the cut when I'd gone through my collection to trim out the non-essentials. When I got this re-release (for the Essential Anime Collection, ironically enough) to review, my judgment on the show had pretty much already solidified: a bit below average, but fun enough, though lacking much re-watch value.

For a fanservice-and-action show, there's surprisingly little of either, and there plot and comedy's pretty thin as well. Most of the fanservice is in the ridiculously exaggerated anime character designs themselves (giant breasts barely restrained by police uniform pockets, pencil-thin waists, bulging hips and long legs with miniskirts). Most of the action is limited to a quick bad-ass pose and sound effects. It works well enough the first time through, especially if you're with a bunch of people and are distracted by banter and chatting, but the show just doesn't really work well with a quiet viewing or on repeated exposure. It has very little replay value and all I really felt upon watching this yet again was a bit of nostalgia for around when I had first scene it.

If you're picky, this probably won't satisfy. If you just want cute girls and big guns (with a bit older art style) and you just like anime in general, this'll probably work for you just fine.

For those who were thinking about upgrading, the 5.1 remaster isn't a jump enough to justify it, unless you really are a completist or can find it really cheap.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,Spanish 2.0 Language,Original Opening Credits,Production Sketches

Review Equipment
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

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