Burst Angel Complete Collection (Viridian Collection) - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 49.98
  • Running time: 600
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Burst Angel

Burst Angel Complete Collection (Viridian Collection)

By Chris Beveridge     July 10, 2008
Release Date: June 10, 2008


Burst Angel Complete Collection (Viridian Collection)
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
A new law's been passed in Tokyo. Ordinary folks are now allowed to freely carry firearms; shoot, they're even legally allowed to use'em. You might think that crime would increase, and you'd be right. But the arrest rate's gone down. After all, the only prison a dead man needs is a hole in the ground. All thanks to RAPT.

The Recent Armed Police of Tokyo is stealing away jurisdiction from the local authorities quicker than a bullet leaves a barrel. What that means is that folks are getting desperate. And desperate people with itchy fingers mean more bodies in the streets.

Now, I'm not sure if she came from up above or somewhere way down below, but an angel's just come to Earth. She's an enigma, but with her partners Sei, Amy, and Meg, she's the best chance this town's got. Her name's Jo. And there's a new sheriff in town.

Contains all 24 episodes and the OVA.

The Review!
With a series of strange occurrences throughout the city of Tokyo in the near future, a group of women deal with them while having fun.

Audio:
Gonzo can be so hit or miss with their audio sometimes that it becomes quite infuriating. So many shows deserve a 5.1 mix and something like Burst Angel exemplifies how well they can do it when they actually get down to it. The Japanese and English 5.1 mixes here are both encoded at 448kbps and feature a very rich presentation overall, but more so during the big action sequences. The fight scenes and those with the cybots have a good deal of bass to them that gives it all much more impact. The directionality is present heavily in these scenes but also in numerous dialogue pieces as well. This is a great sounding mix through and through, particularly for a TV series, and it has me lamenting that they don't do as good a job with all their series.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004 for the TV series and in 2007 for the OVA, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The TV series was authored by Vision Wise, a company that still frustrates me in some ways because they managed to do some quite solid work in general with very good tools while utilizing low bitrates. The series doesn't sit strictly in the 5mbps range like the FUNimation authored titles did for so long, but it hovers there a lot with some peaks up into the eights. Burst Angel has a very clean look and the resultant transfer is one that is quite slick and pleasing on the eye as it maintains a very solid feel with only a bit of noise here and there. These discs are the same as the original release and maintain the same release pattern which is four episodes across six discs. The OVA, authored by FUNimation and released in 2007, fares better than a lot of other shows at the time but partially because it's just a twenty-five minute episode with extras on the disc. It has a rather high bitrate to it and it looks fantastic with a very glossy and slick look that's essentially problem free.

Packaging:
FUNimation's release of Burst Angel in its Viridian form with the OVA is the first release to change how that Viridian collections are done. The eco packaging of the earlier releases got a lot of complaints because of a lack of sturdiness to it. This release utilizes slim double thinpak cases for the TV series and a single for the OVA inside a flimsy box for it. While a heavy chipboard box would have been appreciated, this is certainly not a bad thing as it gives you a great package overall. The box has artwork that was used previously as the front cover features a good illustration pairing of Jo and Meg together in their sexy outfits with the logo to the left of them. The back cover is pretty text heavy with a summary of the show and its premise along the right. It also lists all the extras and a breakdown in the center of the episodes, number of DVDs and how many minutes of extras there are. The left side has more character artowkr and a small group of shots from the show itself. The bottom is a very tightly packed piece with the production information for the two releases inside and the basic technical grid.

The thinpak cases inside are very well done as each of the four volumes focuses on one of the characters along. The illustrations are very well detailed and having the characters on the front with a wraparound image that has a mechanical aspect to it, often with a cybot on the back cover. The characters look great as they all exude their sexiness in different ways. The interiors are done with a basic somewhat dark color background with character artwork pairings on the right side while the left breaks down the episodes on each of the volumes and a listing of what extras are there, making it very easy to identify everything and find what you want. The releases are quite solid all around when it comes to the packaging and this is probably the best Viridian collection yet.

Menu:
The menu design for the series is rather spartan, though oddly busy in a way, as it features a red filtered background with images from the show. Laid on top of that is the standard navigation layout along the left side while the right has a piece of artwork for a character that's dependent on that particular volume, all of which is set to a bit of music. The menus are set up in a fairly standard fashion and there isn't anything that really captures you visually nor does it really do a great job of setting the mood for the show itself. They're functional pieces that get the job done and little more than that, especially in comparison to more recent menus from FUNimation. Access times are nice and fast though and we avoided player preset issues because of the angles that they used on titles during this period.

Extras:
With these discs being duplicates of the originals, everything that was on there is here. FUNimation has a ton of extras on this release and they push it strongly on the back cover by talking about the 420 plus minutes of them that there are. The extras really run the gamut and provide a great deal to go over if you're into the show that far. Commentaries are included on each disc for a single episode and you get the clean openings and closings as well. There are outtakes scattered bout and you get some of the original promotional pieces and even the alternate opening and closing sequences.

There are a lot of materials devoted to expanding on the show as well, including numerous radio dramas that have some basic pieces up on the screen to carry it through. These are always fun to watch/listen to and the Burst Angel ones are no exception, especially if you enjoy the Japanese voice actors and how they have fun with these silly stories. The lighter elements suit it well and don't end up in the main show that often so it's good that they had this opportunity. Add in a number of cast interviews and a few individual pieces with the creative staff and you get a solid idea of what went into the show even with it being fairly standard press material. The sheer amount of extras here is a huge selling point for this series, especially at this price and collection style.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While Gonzo delves into manga and novel adaptations for their series, they do a fair number of original creations as well. Based on a screenplay by Fumihiko Shimo, someone who is involved in a number of rather popular shows in the last few years, Burst Angel is the kind of series that handles the weekly adventures pretty well and gives you reasons to come back. When taken in total though, the weaknesses of the series design shine through a bit more and that makes it more difficult to work through.

When Burst Angel was first released in single form by FUNimation, I made it through the first episode before looking for someone else to review it. With a glut of shows out at the time and this one looking pretty unappealing, Even with subsequent re-releases and the OVA, I never got around to watching past that first episode until this set. I don't find myself regretting that decision now that I've seen it, though it was certainly a decent enough way of passing the time. Where Burst Angel has its problems is in that it never really makes it a fully compelling world and it doesn't provide enough of a larger story narrative throughout the weekly stories.

Burst Angel takes place in a near future where a newly rebuilt Tokyo is seeing a massive rise in crime. In fact, it seems to be occurring all over Japan to different levels, but Tokyo takes it to the extreme both in the problem and the cure. The cure that's used is privatizing the police in the form of RAPT - Recently Armed Police Taskforce (though it says Tokyo in one of the on screen listings). RAPT doesn't exactly have a rosy reputation but they are by and large fairly respected as they do deal with most of the problems out there. Especially since the general populace can get weapons licenses now so having more official police in any capacity out there helps to keep everyone a bit more in line. Crime is still rampant though and problematic because of Cybot rampages.

Within all of this there is a small group of women operating under funding from the Bailan group with the leader's granddaughter in charge of it. Sei has put together a diverse group of women to carry out her plans which involve the overall meta story that doesn't truly become revealed until the last three episodes. Prior to then, the series delves into the issues that come up weekly in that various Cybots end up becoming twisted and warped in their programming and plans, generally around the idea of "glowing brains" that signify that they're not the norm. In order to figure out what's causing this and acquire the information so that they can head off potential problems within the Bailan group, Sei's team tackles each of the occurrences as they happen and other missions as well.

With Sei as the leader, she doesn't get too directly involved in the individual missions that come up, rather taking a directing lead and providing support for them in the big trailer that they live and operate out of. Tackling things head on is left to the three women she's brought in. The most outgoing and bubbly is that of Meg, a young woman who has a Western cowboy feel to her with her outfit and personality. She's got a love of life and is intent on enjoying it. Unfortunately, she ends up being caught by the bad guys fairly often and finds herself in compromising situations that makes everything more difficult.

Thankfully, Meg is rescued regularly by the real brawn of the group in the form of Jo, a quiet silver haired young woman. Jo's the strong and silent type who uses her twin pistols to great effect and has no problems leaping about from moving vehicles or Cybots to take down her enemy. Jo spends much of her time outside of the fighting just being bored and uninterested in things, mainly waiting for the next mission to come along so she can have fun. Her quiet nature is offset by that of Amy, a somewhat younger cute character who is the technical genius of the group that doesn't get involved in the actual fighting. The cyber wizard type, she brings in the spunky little girl stereotype as well as one that delves into the network and related areas.

What's unusual about the show is that it opens up by introducing us to Kyohei, an aspiring patisserie going to a culinary academy. He ends up meeting the girls when Sei tries to hire him on as their cook so he can gain experience and they can get some decent meals. Providing the role of the outsider looking inside with the group, Kyohei seems like he's going to be more of a regular than he is. The first couple of episodes put him in a bit of danger but he's more in an observers role more than anything else. Over time he's minimized even more and only has a couple of episodes where he's really involved in things. It's almost as if they realized that it wasn't working along the way and it was easy to just push him slowly out of the picture. On the plus side, there are no awkward romantic possibilities brought in which helps immensely. All the potential love is kept between Meg and Jo.

Burst Angel does have an interesting setup to how it tells its stories. With the way it starts, I fully expected a Cybot/incident of the week kind of show. What it does instead is to tell the bulk of its stories across two episodes. Events aren't quickly figured out and the action is doubled up in regards to that particular story. The rampaging Cybots are a bit part of it, but the build up to them going crazy or dealing with them takes a bit more time. This is a big positive as it allows the incidents to be a bit more detailed and fluid and not so quickly paced and easily resolved. The downside is the main problem of the show in that up until the last couple of episodes, there really isn't a big bad guy or corporation fully behind it. It's hinted at, teased with a few ideas and possibilities, but it's never really showing us what's going on from that side. When we do get material on it, it's weak and insubstantial with almost no character names given since they're not on screen for long.

This can work in a great number of series, but when the show finally hits the final few episodes, there isn't a strong connection to what's going on. Jo's origins get explained easily enough and it all makes sense, but the impact of it just isn't felt. The origin side of the series does get explored for all the characters at one time or another, and there are some nice foundation moments provided because of it, but they aren't moments that are used throughout to help solidify it all. Jo's story becomes a big part of the ending but it's not built up to properly. Meg's story is a bit more interesting since it's a human one and they do a really nice job of giving it some closure with the OVA. Amy and Sei tend up getting the short end of the stick as their stories are fairly short and don't provide much in the way of long term use within the core storyline.

Visually, there is a lot to like about the show and the OVA in particular. It's a very clean looking series that even when it's stuck in the grimier colors of the city it has a very distinct feeling to it. It's more apparent when the series takes a side trip to Osaka and delves into the more easy going lifestyle that's portrayed there since it's a happier city than Tokyo. The set designs look really good throughout with a lot of detail in the backgrounds that gives it a very lived in feeling. The CG animation is a bit iffier at times, and at first it made me wonder if Satelight was involved in the production because of how the Cybots moved. The character designs are attractive throughout as well, though they do fall into the trap of wearing the same outfits constantly. The OVA provides a nice break from that for Meg and Jo at least. Everything about it is basically quite competent and solid, but there isn't anything that raises it to another level to make it truly memorable. And that unfortunately sums up the series in total.

In Summary:
Burst Angel as a series is one that has a lot of fun moments along the way, cute characters and some engaging action sequences. It works the individual stories well by spreading them over two episodes for the bulk of them which allows it to tell slightly more involved tales. The downside is that the characters don't get deeply explored overall and the stories tend to fall short of tying everything together in a truly compelling way. On a weekly viewing basis, this would work pretty well and take some time before the weaknesses are shown. In a collection, it becomes much more apparent, especially if you marathon it. There are lots of things to like about it but as a complete package it's pretty average overall. FUNimation has done an excellent job with this release overall though by including all the original extras in a tight little package. Fans of the show who missed out on it before or those that want to give it a whirl will be properly rewarded by this release.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Staff Commentaries,Radio Dramas,Japanese Cast Interview,CGI Artist Interview,Character Designer Interview,Japanese Trailer,Alternate Opening,Alternate Closing,Battle Record,Character Designer Special,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Outtakes

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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