Mania Grade: A-
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: A-
- Extras Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Viz Media
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 75
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Ceres, Celestial Legend
Ceres, Celestial Legend Vol. #1
By David Owens
February 07, 2002
Release Date: July 31, 2001
Ayashi no Ceres, or Ceres: Celestial Legend as it's billed in America, is another series by Yuu Watase, the writer of the extremely well-known Fushigi Yuugi series. Love Fushigi Yuugi or hate it, Watase Yuu has written another shoujo story, and so far from the first DVD, I think I'll be addicted to this one just as I was with Fushigi Yuugi.
The basic gist of Ceres is explained in the first DVD, but as was the case with Fushigi Yuugi, the explanations are sorely lacking in order to tease and completely annoy everyone buying the DVDs as they're released. Maybe not, but it seems that way.
The cover of Ceres is fairly nice, with a nice picture of some of the main characters from the anime. Nonchalant fans, such as myself, would probably notice that the style is very similar to much of the Fushigi Yuugi art; when you watch the DVD itself, you'll soon find out that the animation is also very similar. Thus, if you liked FY's animation, you'll probably like Ceres's as well, and conversely, if you didn't, you won't. While the cover itself is pretty, the back is...bland. To say the least! It has a couple of pictures, and a neat picture of Toya's eye in the background, but it looks too empty for some reason. A couple more pictures would have been nice to fill it up.
Popping the disc in, the next thing one would notice would be the menus, which are also fairly nice. The animation is smooth and the menus tend to be quick-loading, which is a plus. I'm not a big menu person really, since I just want them to work, and work quickly, but I absolutely love the waterdrop effect when you transition from one menu to another. It looks extremely cool, so bonus points for that.
Character profiles adorn the first disc as extras, and similar to many profiles, they do have spoilers. However, so far (from my reading of them right now) it looks like they only have disc 1 spoilers for the most part (well, Aya's has a spoiler I guess, but if you are a shoujo fan and you couldn't instantly guess it just from the opening sequence, then there's a BakaHammer with your name on it somewhere, because even I of all people guessed it) :) Anyway, don't read the profiles until after you've watched the first disc. If you do, then you'll be mildly spoiled.
Another extra, and a very fascinating one, is a short video of Watase talking about her work, after realizing how popular her manga and anime is in America. There's really nothing earth-shattering in there, but it's very interesting to see her talking about how she appreciates the support she has here and how it helps her strive farther. The third extra is a video clip of Watase sketching and inking a picture of Tamahome, presumably at a con somewhere based on the background noise. The clip, which lasts about 5 minutes, is pretty amazing to watch, since she starts from nothing and ends up with a rather nice looking sketch by the end. Finally, they included a promo clip for Ceres, with some footage from the show. All in all, it's a decent batch of extras, but the lack of a creditless opening or ending is disappointing. Supposedly, they're forthcoming on a future disc, so I'll live I suppose. :)
The voice acting for the dub is fairly nondescript. Aya's voice is much less annoying than Miaka's (but then again, by this time, Miaka had already yelled "Tamahome!" about sixty times), but that could change at the drop of a hat if she starts yelling her love's name all over the place. :) None of the voices really stood out (although Aya sounded like the voice of dub-Lime from SMJ), but they weren't bad. The bad guys sound bad, the good guys sound bishounen, Aya sounds less annoying than Miaka. Yeah, I can live through twenty-something episodes. :)
The video on Ceres isn't too bad. There's a good amount of rainbowing a various times, which can be annoying, but I don't usually notice that too often. Still, if rainbows make YOUR Baby Jesus cry, then wear dark sunglasses or something. ;) Speaking of video, though, Viz did do a good thing by putting BOTH the original Japanese logo and the English logo on the opening credits, one right after the other! That is to say, no overlays! Wahoo! Even more interestingly, the episode titles are presented in the original Japanese, and then shortly after, in English as well. Wahoo x2!
Audio is good, if not somewhat quiet (well, it seems that way to me anyways, looking at the volume on my receiver). The opening song is a beautiful Iwao Junko song, and the closing is an up tempo song that fades in during the last few seconds of each episode. Background music in the series is fantastic, if you ask me, making good use of some surround effects here and there.
The actual story of Ceres is, much like Fushigi Yuugi, probably a lot more complicated than I can get into now based on my viewing of the first three episodes. As I've only seen three episodes, though, I have to sit around and wait just like everyone else.
The story centers around Aya Mikage, a nearly-sixteen-year-old girl (Watase likes them, I guess) who is a little moody at times apparently, and also likes karaoke. Woo! Aya and her twin brother, Aki, are invited to their grandfather's on the day of their sixteenth birthday for their party, and then the fun begins when guns get pulled out, and mysterious bishounen wander the halls, and Aya's eyes start glowing gold.
In typical Watase fashion, we get all sorts of stuff in the story. If you've seen Fushigi Yuugi, you'll notice a few similarities (Hey! It's Tamahooh, no, it's just Toya). The similarities seem to be mainly superficial though, in character designs and in opening animations (during which Aya mysteriously loses her clothes and starts cuddling bishounen-love-interest-number-one, go figure), because Ceres seems to be somewhat darker than Fushigi Yuugi was. Most people should be able to agree with that after just the first disc; if not, feel free to BakaHammer me if you see me, but I'm guessing that people who don't pick up on Ceres being darker probably didn't watch it. :)
Personally, I like the darker tone, myself. The story starts off quickly, with Aya impulsively throwing herself into danger and getting herself saved at the last moment. Once you get past that and a little fluff, it delves right into the dark side, with murder, the supernatural, shady characters (and I'm just talking about the GOOD guys!), bishounen all over the place, and cute schoolgirls in short skirts. Yup, it's a Watase series. :) Just like in Fushigi Yuugi, though, there's good usage of super-deformation to keep things light-hearted.
The characters all seem fairly well-defined, as well, even if they bear a striking resemblance to the seishi from Fushigi Yuugi. Aya is a cutie, and she wears plenty of short skirts, so that's worth ogle-points in my book. ;) Suzumi is also cute when she gets introduced in the second episode, and the guys/bishounen seem to have their defined roles.
All in all, I like Ceres so far. Further proving my assertion that I need to buy series and only watch them once they're all out in order to avoid anxiety attacks, I'm now anxiously awaiting the second disc already, since the third episode ends in a fairly huge cliffhanger. The plots are already springing up all over the place just in three episodes, so I'm very interested in seeing how they all turn out. I decided a while ago that this would be the last 8-DVD series I buy, and it looks like I made a good choice to end it on, although I think a 6-DVD series would have been much better for it (ahem).
Pioneer Elite 610 HDTV, Pioneer Elite DV-C36 DVD Changer, Pioneer Elite VSX-35TX Receiver, Pioneer ISO-drive speaker setup, Monster component cables and digital coax cable