Burn-Up Scramble Vol. #1 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 24.98/34.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Burn-Up Scramble

Burn-Up Scramble Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     August 13, 2004
Release Date: November 02, 2004


Burn-Up Scramble Vol. #1 (also w/box)
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
In the near future of Tokyo, police are no longer able to handle the many heinous crimes that are ravaging the city. To solve this dire situation, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department forms a secret unit called "WARRIORS." The members that make up this crime fighting team are: Rio, a police officer specializing in any form of martial arts; Maya, an eagle-eyed sniper; and Lilica, a prisoner with supernatural powers. The sexy comedy-action series "BURN-UP" has returned.

The Review!
Updated for the new millennium, the Burn Up franchise returns with a reboot, slicker designs and still the same kind of stories and fanservice.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a pretty active stereo mix that's based around the action sounds and some of the dialogue, making good use of various situations to provide a nice flow. This was more noticeable when we listened to it on our smaller set than our main theater though. Dialogue was clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with either language track for dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing back in January of 2004, the latest AIC is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The transfer for the show looks fairly decent but it looks like some of the source materials were done a bit on the cheap side using some of the digital animation techniques. A lot of the show, especially interiors, look very soft throughout all four episodes. During one episode where we're following a character walking down the street at night from behind, you can see a halo of color around her that looks rather out of place. That's one of the most prominent areas and the rest doesn't have that anywhere near that level but it was surprising. With the style of digital painting used, there's a lot of areas where the color gradations are very visible. It's definitely a source/intentional thing in that regard, but some of it becomes more difficult to author; the Supreme Court has a few moments in each episode where the man in charge has some gray case in front of him and you can see a lot of blocking going on in it instead of a smooth single color. Cross coloration itself is very hard to find as is the aliasing and a lot of the show does look good, but it almost looks like AIC was trying to find a way of doing things differently and it led to something less than a clean clear set of source materials.

Packaging:
The opening cover to the series looks good with a shot of the trio in their police uniforms set against a simple backdrop. This wasn't used for the Japanese DVD releases (maybe the VHS ones or some promotional materials) but it really looks nice and is very detailed. The uniforms themselves continue to be more fanservice oriented than anything else but they're definitely one of the holdovers from the last incarnation of the show. The back cover provides a good looking illustration shot of the trio in their Warrior uniforms and a number of small screenshots. The shows summary gives the basics while also listing the episode numbers, titles and the features on the disc. The bottom portion of the covers continue to look a bit too messy for my tastes and difficult to find all the relevant information. As other companies continue to adopt the technical grid, I hope Geneon joins up in this as well. The insert has a simple shadow of Rio to set against the chapter listings while the reverse side has a shot of the trio, very softly done, in their bathing suits. This looks to be a reverse side image of the Japanese first DVD release which has them in the same pose but in their uniforms. Geneon's also made this a reversible cover, with the reverse side having the second Japanese DVD cover artwork, a really good looking illustration.

Menu:
With a bit of animation playing before it settles into the menu proper, the end result is a very active looking menu where you've got the three leads standing in action poses in front of the police building while "live" flames play around it and set to an action instrumental piece of music. It's a very busy looking menu and one that works pretty well though I didn't care much for the pre-load animation since it just delays things. Navigation is quick and easy to use and the layout intuitive. The disc also read our players preset languages and played correctly.

Extras:
The only included extras are some of the more basic ones, such as the clean opening and ending and several pages worth of character designs in an art gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
During the mid-90's, the Burn-Up franchise hit in a few flavors and had some moderate successes both in Japan and here. The shows basic premise of three women serving in a secret special forces style outfit for the police in the near future played well to both markets in the babes with guns mentality and fit in well with what anime was mostly defined by in the US during this period. Almost seven years after the last OVA came out, Geneon (Japan and USA) ended up putting some money into the creation of a new TV series for the show which serves as something of a reboot. There's no continuity between the two, so while familiarity will let you shift into this easily enough, it's not exactly a deep show requiring a lot of knowledge to enjoy.

It is, after all, still just babes with guns.

Taking place in 2023, the world has been evolving and becoming more peaceful in a lot of ways. But as technology and the world advances, there's still some nasty things out there causing trouble. The big problem for those in Tokyo, at least from the citizens' point of view, is the traffic problems. For those in the police line of work though, they know that there's some Asian Mafia types that are looking to foment trouble in Japan and to expand their businesses there. For your average citizen, life is pretty good unless you're trying to drive somewhere. If you're a police officer however, your time is either shifting between whatever department you normally work in or doing traffic duty it seems.

With the threat of larger crimes and terrorism looming in the background, the government authorized the creation of a secret department of "actively aggressive" officers who will tackle these kinds of problems when the regular uniformed men and women cannot. Codenamed "Warrior", the three women involved in it are pulled from different departments within the organization and are called upon at random times to stop the big crimes with minimal information, time and often enthusiasm. Well, that's dependent more upon the person that's doing it. The three women that make up Warrior are definitely not what you'd expect in the real world but it's what you'd expect here.

Ostensibly leading the team is the tall blonde named Rio. Working from general criminal department, she's very much like she was in the last series. Constantly broke, continually wishing for a boyfriend, always planning for vacations that she can't take since she has neither of the other two and generally just trying to scrape by. Her luck with the men is generally quite bad; in fact, when we first meet her in this series she's just found out her boyfriend has been two-timing her with another guy. Also in the group is Maya, a quiet reserved young woman from the traffic department who is a master marksman and generally excels at most things weapon related. She's got the quiet grace and calm voice that lets her balance the side of her that loves to shoot things.

At first, this is all that makes up the team and we get an adventure and a half with just them as we get some of the basics of the city and the police make-up. Rio ends up getting involved in some minor trouble over her boyfriend and through that meets the Head Chief Naruo, aka Yuji, a young man who has the looks, wealth and status to get whatever he wants and he's now decided that Rio will be just that. With his position, he ends up getting involved in either the start or end of various cases so he's always pursuing Rio in one way or another, much to her chagrin and that of Naruo's attractive green haired assistant.

The third member of the party is the more interesting one in my mind, Lilica. Brought in from a department that was making use of her abilities, she's a psychic and has numerous abilities, though they don't always work as intended. As the teams' boss tells them, it's up to them to figure out how to use her. Lilica's abilities are pretty varied, from essentially reading peoples thoughts from the touch of her hand (where she amusingly reveals a lot of things about Rio), dousing with her pendant to general telepathy based powers. Her personality is that of a shy girl since she's generally shunned by other people but also due to the way she's treated even within the police precincts by having magnetic cuffs on both her wrists and ankles.

For the most part, it looks like the character designs from the previous series were dumped other than Rio who got an update to match the new designs. This isn't a bad thing since I like the new character designs. The Warrior uniforms also look similar but there are small changes with them as well. One of the best things kept, of course, is the changing sequence that shows them sliding the skintight outfits onto them. With this being a fanservice heavy show, it's just required. The fanservice throughout is pretty good with a number of near-naked scenes, plenty of scantily clad shots and underwear moments. And as you can tell by the designs, the women are all fairly well endowed, but not to the point where you wonder how they even move. But you know they have to be having back troubles?

In Summary:
While there are some changes to the show, it still feels very much like the Burn Up franchise that we've seen over the years, just slicker looking and with a few character design and personality changes. It plays to the babes with gun genre well and has fun with both aspects of it. There's some hints of a larger story to take place during the opening episodes here but for the beginning we're given the usual introductions and a look at the way this world operates. It's good simple fun that gives me a bit of nostalgia to a show I liked several years ago but wasn't exactly a raving fanboy about. Burn Up Scramble is a nice change of pace from a lot of what's coming out these days which says a lot about how the market has changed in the past ten years.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Textless Ending,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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