Cat's Eye Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: B-
  • Video Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ImaginAsian Entertainment
  • MSRP: 12.99
  • Running time: 120
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Cat's Eye

Cat's Eye Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     July 25, 2007
Release Date: September 25, 2007

Cat's Eye Vol. #1
© ImaginAsian Entertainment

What They Say
Rui, Hitomi and Ai are three beautiful sisters who spend their days running their cute cafe - but when night falls, the claws come out! The trio transforms into Cat's Eye, the super and sexy art thieves! But there's more than meets the eye: stealing artwork is their only chance to find their missing father. When Hitomi's unaware boyfriend is assigned to investigate Cat's Eye, will their secret be let out of the bag?

This edition includes a series keepcase, which is designed to hold discs 1-8.

Contains episodes 1-5.

The Review!
Revolving around three sisters trying to reclaim stolen valuables that belonged to their father, Cat's Eye is quaint and entertaining.

Unsurprising considering its age, Cat's Eye is presented in its original language of Japanese in a mono format. The 128 kbps encoding isn't one that will wow anyone but it's serviceable enough for the material and is essentially problem free during playback. Cat's Eye features a number of action sequences, car chases and other such moments and they do feel like they lack any real impact here but it's representing the source materials fairly well, particularly for what people actually heard at the time. It is a touch low at times but it's in good condition and certainly comes across rather clean and clear during regular playback.

Originally airing in 1983, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The series received a remaster and box set release in Japan back in 2001 which has certainly helped to clean up the elements here. Beyond some minor speckling here and there, the print is in surprisingly good condition. The third of the first wave of releases from Imaginasian, this one feels like it's right in the middle of those two in terms of video quality. The show doesn't have as much noise to the backgrounds but it's still there. The opening sequence where it "lights up" at first shows a good bit of chroma noise in it, and similar problems can be found throughout in the dark blue sequences. Some of the black scenes come across with heavy blocking as well. Colors themselves look good without any noticeable bleeding or oversaturation but they have a hard time maintaining a solid feel due to the noise. Similar to Orguss and Nobody's Boy Remi, as we put the release through smaller and smaller setups, the issues became greatly minimized.

Cat's Eye is one of the first anime titles to be released under the TitleMatch program in which all the authoring is done as normal but instead of replication it's done through burning to DVD-R, giving smaller publishing houses a chance to do some Print On Demand DVDs. Containing the usual CSS protection (that has been effectively useless for what, seven years now?) it's essentially the same as a regular release except in how it's actually put to disc. We popped this disc in a few of our players to see if we'd have any compatibility issues and it worked in just about everything except for our Toshiba TV/DVD combo unit.

The packaging design for the series is pretty decent and space sensitive and thankfully not like some Korean drama collections I've bought that are simply discs on a spindle. The oversized keepcase has a series of hinges in it where each side holds a single disc as does the interior sides of the cover. The volume comes with the first disc while the remaining seven in the series are sent out in just sleeves. Whereas other releases in the first wave had some good looking illustrations to them, this one is a good looking full color piece that looks like a slightly more current series with its colors and layout. The back cover has a good clean feeling to it as it presents a look at the three lead characters against a solid background and a few shots from the show. The summary covers the basics of the series itself as well as some of the creative staff's credits. The technical grid along the bottom details what to expect from the release overall and does include a note that it is made up of DVD-R material that may not play in older players.

The menu design is simple but fits nicely with the show though that TMS Classics logo is a bit bigger than I care for. The static background is an illustration that has the character artwork from the back cover as a bit of music plays along to it. All the logos and the navigation strip, which is simple considering how little is really here, are along the right side in order to give the character artwork some room to breath. Access times are good and fast and everything loads without a problem.

None, though the packaging promises extras for the eighth volume in the form of a clean opening and some art galleries.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the original manga by Tsukasa Hojo which ran for eighteen volume's, Imaginasian has picked up the first season of Cat's Eye which runs thirty five episodes. The series fits in well with some of Hojo's other properties such as City Hunter and Angel Heart both in style and the kind of loose and mildly sexual manner. The first five episodes of the series on this volume cover some of the basics of the series which is essentially a very episodic piece of work, at least so far.

The series revolves around three sisters who are searching for numerous art items that were collected by their father during the Nazi era. Their father has been missing for quite some time and they hope that by acquiring the things that he had once collected that they'll be able to come into contact with him again. The why of wanting contact isn't exactly clear yet nor is the way the family relationship has gone as their mother simply isn't mentioned at all. The sisters don't seem to be doing all that poorly as they run a coffee shop together called Cat's Eye. Rui, the eldest, has almost a motherly feel about her when dealing with the youngest, Ai. Hitomi on the other hand she treats very much like an equal as the two of them are the ones that are mainly responsible for the heists that they plan.

Hitomi's ostensibly the lead of the series for a few reasons that become apparent over these first few episodes. One of them is that while she and Rui do plan and work the heists together, Hitomi tends to take lead on them and provide more of the actual physical aspect of it all. The other big reason is that Hitomi has a boyfriend by the name of Toshio who just happens to be the detective heading up the investigation of the Cat's Eye thieves. This gives the two of them plenty of screen time together and apart which tends to dominate over the others. Rui and Ai do make out pretty good though and each have moments that highlight their strengths and interactions. As a trio, the Cat's Eye thieves are pretty good at what they do.

With the episodes being standalone pieces that have no real carry over from one to the next, each one sets up a caper or an issue and runs with it in the short time frame. One of the stories has the girls being set up to take the blame for a murder, another has a hotshot from HQ coming by to show the local police how to catch thieves like this. In between there are the usual standard heists that require some wheeling and dealing in order to plan out and succeed in. In a lot of ways, the series feels very reminiscent of Lupin the 3rd but with a smaller all female cast. The standalone nature, the pacing and the overall setup keeps pointing towards such similarities. Toshio isn't exactly a Zenigata but the parallels are still pretty strong throughout " even if Lupin never really did go out with Zenigata.

Cat's Eye feels positively quaint in its approach which isn't a surprise. Yet even for the time, 1983-1985 when the series aired, you can't help but laugh at some of the simple things that are given a blind eye to. The sisters all wear the completely wrong kind of outfits for such jobs. Though they do wear skintight suits, Ai has a bright orange one and Hitomi has a yellow scarf around her waist. Rui at least manages to do a purple and green combination that works better at night. There's also the very amusing part that the thieves who leave cards about the heists they're after use the same name as the coffee shop. This actually does come up in the show towards the end of this volume but it's so absurdly obvious in so many ways that it's hard to suspend disbelief. You also have to contend with the fact that none of the sisters wear masks when they do these heists and none of them wear gloves. Apparently fingerprint evidence didn't come into use in Japan until after the 80's?

In Summary:
For all its faults though, Cat's Eye does have a certain charm that has managed to endear fans of Hojo's works. They're generally not superstar properties when it comes to fandom in the US but they have some strong worldwide appeal as this series has seen a good deal of play across Europe. People who are interested in this kind of series tend to know about it and search it out but it's not something that's going to have widespread appeal. This is the most accessible of the three titles that Imaginasian is starting with since it mixes in a lighthearted nature, some simple innocent sexual innuendo and a good deal of action, albeit campy for the most part. With the pricing and episode count for it, it's very easy to recommend for those who find any of it interesting. Those who find it and love it will definitely want more. This is the kind of series that fills the gap made by Lupin not being released these days.

Japanese Language,English Subtitles

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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