Mania Grade: A-
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- Audio Rating: A-
- Video Rating: B-
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Menus Rating: A-
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: All Region DVD
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 110
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Burn-Up W
Burn Up W
By Justin Emerson
February 06, 2002
Release Date: June 27, 2000
Burn Up W is a title that I hadn't heard a lot about when I made my preorder. The only thing I'd really heard was a comparison to Bubblegum Crisis, which I enjoyed, so I figured I'd enjoy this one. While the content of the series was good, the disc itself didn't impress me very much.
The disc has three Audio tracks: English, Japanese, and Spanish. I spot checked the English and Spanish tracks and didn't notice anything wrong with them. All three are simple Dolby Stereo tracks, as this was originally an OVA series, and ADV didn't consider this one of those key titles which deserves a 5.1 mix (like Evangelion...right?). No real complaints here.
Now comes the other half of the technical side - the video. Unfortunately, I have a few issues with this disc. Firstly, you'll notice that my review equipment is slightly different for this disc. Well, this disc would not play on my RealMagic Hollywood+ card - the player gives me an error when I try to play the disc. So I used my other computer's software DVD playback to watch this disc. Know that the computer is a Celeron 566 overclocked to 850MHz, so I doubt there's any issues in terms of the hardware not being able to playback the DVD fast enough, and I've played numerous other DVD's on it without a problem.
The first episode seems alright on the video side. I didn't notice any real problems other than some mild interlacing and rainbow effects during the first episode. That would've been forgivable. Things just go downhill from there... Starting with the second episode, I started noticing some serious interlacing. At times it would even become very distracting. I even tried playing this on my standalone player, and even on my regular TV the interlacing became noticeable. Of course, due to the interlaced nature of TV the effect was less pronounced, as was the rainbow effects, but it was still there. Then during the intro sequences to the third and fourth episodes, there are some SERIOUS issues with rainbow effects. This is partly due to the difficulty in encoding the kind of picture (very high contrast thin lines, it's a black and white manga-esque drawing) but also due to the interlacing issues. Again, I want to stress that I've never seen this problem when a disc has been encoded using progressive scan - none of the progressive DVD's I own display this effect, Anime or otherwise.
It had occurred to me that maybe ADV tried to cut some corners and make this a single-layer DVD, but I check the size of the data on the disc, and there's 5.85GB worth on there. Since the maximum for a single-layered DVD is 5GB, this means that they must have had to go double-layered anyway, but they used less than a fifth of the second-layer? This just doesn't make sense to me. They could have vastly improved the video quality by utilizing the other three gigabytes of space on the disc.
The Packaging is nice, it's a standard keepcase with the cover art from the third VHS tape slightly modified. On the back, you get some good stills from the show and the menus, and on the inside is a little insert with the cover art from the first VHS tape, again with a modified background. Unfortunately, as with all the ADV inserts, there aren't any chapter stops or credits or anything _useful_ on them, just ads for other DVD's. I guess overall the packaging is decent, but nothing special.
The Menus are nice - they're very fast and they've got some theme to them. As Chris said, the whole Police theme is carried over into the menus with each episode referred to as Case #1, 2, 3, etc. There's also music playing in the background, but no video or anything really fancy. Not bad menus, but nothing really over the top like Sol Bianca. I'm still waiting for someone to top that DVD in terms of menus.
The actual series itself I thought was good overall, but it just left me wanting more. It's obvious that a lot more could've been made out of this series, as the plot line is never fully resolved even after the fourth episode. I think this was produced during the time when the Golden Age of OVA's was ending, and ended up out in the cold as companies started producing TV series on the same budget. This is really a shame, because I would really enjoy a resolution of the series.
Chris's description is pretty good saying that this is a racier BGC i.e. from the babes with guns genre. I would certainly consider this racier than most other shows in the genre. It seems that the writers have this fixation with the female torso, as I'll put it, and it seems like all the shots are focused around the female's chests instead of their heads. Ever heard the phrase "Look at my face, not at my chest" ? Well I had a feeling the female characters were gonna scream at the imaginary camera man during half the shots. While I suppose the sex factor is semi-enhanced by this, I think it really detracts from the show overall. It just makes the show seem a little too juvenile for the subject matter. One of the most moving and emotional scenes in any show I've ever seen was during the third episode when the main character goes home and listens to a message on her answering machine from someone who just died. I cried during that scene, the dramatic irony is just so effective.
I guess this show can't quite decide whether it wants to be serious or funny, although the last two episodes are decidedly more serious than the first two. Perhaps with more episodes we'd see the plot give the show better direction, but unfortunately this is all that we have right now, which is a shame because it really was an innovative premise. I guess if you're an action fan, then I can recommend this disc, but I think for people who want more plot in a show, this series probably won't satisfy you as the series ends mid-way through the whole storyline. I guess it's very similar to the way ADV handled the disc, it starts off good and then just loses it somewhere. The video problems are still a big turnoff for me on this disc, so for those of you sensitive to those issues I'd say stay away from this one.
InterVideo WinDVD software decoder on a GeForce 256. Cambrige Soundworks DTT2500 5.1 Dolby Digital Speakers.