E's Otherwise Complete Collection (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, February 24, 2009
With his mind wiped, Kai finds himself a psychic in the employ of a national corporation, at least until a military operation goes awry and he sees the world for what it really is.
What They Say
In the near future, the planet is run by a federation of twelve powerful corporations and amid the general populous are psychics - metahumans capable of converting thought into energy. People with these mutant abilities are known as "E's," outcasts with the power to control the world - or to save it.Kai awakes in Ashurum, a military contractor that has put together an elite special forces team of E's called AESES to bring about law and order. But when Kai is sent to wipe out an anti-corporate guerilla outfit from the slum town Gald, he discovers not all is as it seems.
This edition of the series has the same audio presentation as the original singles with the Japanese stereo track encoded at 224kbps and the English 5.1 mix encoded at 448kbps. The stereo mix for this track is rather solid and has a very full presence to it. The forward soundstage is well used for a number of directional moments in both dialogue and action effects but it's the music that almost seems to overwhelm it at times with how strong it is across the entirety of it. The English track with its 5.1 encoding comes across mostly as just louder than anything else, but it does have what feels like more distinct placement at times, though it's not often necessary or used. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either track.
Originally airing back in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This edition has the twenty-six episode show spread across five discs with five episodes on the first four discs and six on the fifth. The transfer for this release looks pretty close to the original release and that was a real mixed bag. The show animated by one of my favorite studies, Pierrot, and it has a great color palette used for it. The character animation in particular really stands out here and looks great with lots of white used, lots of clean lines and some good detailed areas. When the characters are running around in the first couple of episodes, particularly the first episode, they look really good. They're also generally free of cross coloration and aliasing. Where the problem comes in is with a lot of backgrounds, notably in the Ashurum city where the night time sky is a murky green, in that there is a lot of noticeable blocking going on. This also shows up in some of the characters hair in a few episodes where we see the back of their heads and it's a smooth area but ends up showing a lot of blocking. The color gradient issue wasn't much of one with this though you can see a few edges here and there but nowhere near as bad as some other series.
E's Otherwise comes in the much dread stackpack where the five discs are stacked on top of each other in one oversized case. The cover artwork for it uses the character artwork from the original first volume of the single volume series with Kai in his uniform in a bit of a leaping pose. It's a really nice illustration that has a good bit of detail and flow to it, very militaristic with an interesting sense of style. The background is pretty minimal with a bit of what seems to be a wall from a ruined building that's looking a bit worn for wear. The logo is kept simple as we saw it before which is decent but doesn't really stand out in a way that makes it quickly accessible. The back cover uses a similar layout for the background while using the illustration artwork of Yuuki in the middle. The left side has a decent strip of shots from the show going from top to bottom while the right does a good job of promoting the episode and disc count. The summary is as good as it can be considering the amount of material here while the rest is given over to the production credits and a solid technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The main menu is a decent piece that's similar to the single volume releases except that it takes the active animation from it and turns it static. With the main shot of each disc featuring a different character along the right, the left of the menu has a circle symbol with the menu selections inside it, including individual episode access. Access times are nice and fast and the navigation is easy and intuitive. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name by Satoru Yuiga which was partially released in the US by Broccoli books, E's Otherwise is a twenty-six episode series that never truly finds its way and ends up with a really disjointed way of telling a story. The show was one of many licenses from ADV Films when they first grabbed it and it got lost in the shuffle at the time, so I had hoped for it to be a bit of a hidden gem when I watched it the first time around. The original individual disc run didn't really grab me well as time went on as it didn't tell a story in a way to hold your attention well enough over the course of the many months it took to release. So I had hoped it might make out better when watched in full over a couple of days.
E's Otherwise kicks off with an interesting premise. It's the future, but not too far out, and things have changed as the world is most decidedly different. After a series of wars, the governments of the world were unable to bring things back together properly and so stepped in what's turned into twelve massive corporations. In the time that they've spent their money and resources to try and bring the world back to a proper civilized level, they've begun to supplant much of what the government used to do. Some areas have become completely controlled by the corporations and these tend to be gleaming cities of the future and full of technological wonders.
Other areas tend to be more like things today, at least in Ashurum and other well maintained cities, but they're surrounded by massive crumbling buildings of the past that remind them of where they came. In a way, it's little different than when the governments controlled things because just as often they had their own plans that weren't open to the public and agendas that weren't always popular. The company we get to get familiar with early on here is Ashurum, one that's highly interested in the growing number of psychics that have been showing up in the world. They bring them in and train them, give them residences and salaries and offer them something tangible to have in the world. Many cling to this as the bulk of humanity tends to fear what they don't know and psychics are often attacked and killed. Mixing in those who came from the outside, Ashurum also has those who've grown up under its care and never seen the outside world or knows of its prejudices.
Enter Kai, a young man now brought into the program whose powers are considered fairly standard and unexceptional. His main reason for being brought into the group though is due to his younger sister, a sickly girl whose frail body has some of the biggest psychic potential that they've ever seen so there's the chance that Kai has some of it as well but that it's simply locked away. Kai's arrival to the group changes their dynamic as expected with a couple of the girls very interested in him while one of the guys, who you'll swear is a girl for awhile, is set to make him a rival. The group is fairly interesting and very well designed; the brother-sister duo of Shen-lon and Shen-lu are attractive and dangerous, with Shen-lu being a very attractive character who finds herself enamored with Kai even though he's not entirely aware of or sure how to respond to her. Shen-lon has it in for Kai right from the start though and continually challenges him. The group is rounded out with a few others that don't get much attention early on such as Tsubaki, Chris and Ruri.
The opening episode actually progresses things quickly over the first year of Kai's arrival in the group as he undergoes military style training for both his body and mind to help make him a better operative and to not be reliant on his powers. Other than his distaste for the idea of using a gun to shoot someone (his skills are solid with a gun) and his general desire to help and not to hurt, Kai is a decent enough operative and is given a mission far earlier than normal. Though it doesn't bring out any surprising powers, it does put him into the right stage where he can start going on missions with the larger group where they go out to deal with rogue psychics or those controlled by other psychics so they can save them and bring them back to Ashurum.
Of course, there's more going on within Ashurum than what we see and it's hinted at well enough without giving away too much or giving too little. Much of this is played out against another city called Gald where the people don't live quite as well as where Kai lives but they're happy. The plot seems to change course a bit by the second or third episode when the Ahsurum team is sent to Gald in order to rescue as many psychics as possible after the military lays down a reign of fire over it to sow confusion. Supposedly the general citizenry has been evacuated so the team is able to move easily throughout the streets. Things end up going horribly wrong though for Kai and he eventually finds himself under the care of one of the gray area kind of men named Yuuki. From here, Kai begins to get his exposure to the real world and death up close and personal which starts to change his views on what he believes Ashurum is doing as opposed to what they're really doing.
When the series makes its change from the first couple of episodes and things go wrong in Gald, it seems to lose some of its steam and a lot of its interesting material. The shift of Kai to the outside world isn't unexpected once they get the point that he's never been there and is unaware of the realities, but it comes far too early and it places him into a situation with a character like Yuuki who uses him for his own missions, which in turn would go against a lot of what Kai believes in. While the entire drag scene is quite comical and well played and Kai certainly makes an attractive woman, I can't see a fifteen year old male who's still unsure of himself in a lot of ways doing something like that just so he can stay at their place longer. It's an uneven relationship between the two men that hinges on the way Kai tends to look at his "sister".
And unfortunately, that early shift to Gald really does cement a great deal of the series in how it plays out. Kai and Yuuki invariably end up on different jobs in order to make some money or to help someone in need. Threads of the larger storyline slowly get drawn into it as the men behind Ashurum have their own grand plans and there's even a church that's drawn into the mix as another faction that wants to utilize psychics for their own plans. When the Sacrament of Calvaria becomes a key piece early on as something that leaders high up on each side are after, we get an idea of where it may go. But then it's almost promptly dropped and ignored for well over ten episodes outside of a rare mention. More characters provide some support to the show, but it balances it out between the couple of principle characters in Gald and those running the show back in Ashurum.
When it delves into stories about the other psychics under Ashurum's control, such as the two Belvedere twins, it drags as well since it doesn't feel like it has a heavy connection to anything else. They do eventually tie it to the main storyline as we get to understand how they imprint new personalities onto the psychics and the dangers behind it, but it also invariably throws us so many psychic characters that aren't who they really are that you can't take anything at face value. Can you draw a connection with a character whose personality could be wiped at any time, or possibly have the real original one returned somehow? And how much of their personalities were written by the men controlling the strings, which in turn has you wondering whether it's all playing out exactly as they like, removing some of the tension from it until the inevitable conclusion. These would be questions that I'd have if the characters were interesting enough to begin with. As they stand, throughout the series as a whole, none of them are ones that I could connect with or enjoy because they all felt like they were going through the motions.
In going back to re-watch older series that I had seen in a very different form, I've come away with some very different opinions of them. Watching from the four episodes every two months to twenty-six of them in two days gives you a very different perspective on them. While many have made out for the better, as you see the threads of storylines clearer and told better, E's Otherwise is one that only highlights its flaws. The show feels like it has no direction and its sense of time is awkward at best. So much ground is covered in the first episode and then things are thrown all over the map after that with how it wants to tell a large storyline in multiple places with numerous characters and motivations. It simply doesn't have the right structure to tell it nor does it have any actual compelling characters. I originally found the show to have some interesting ideas that lost its way, but watching it in this form cemented that it was simply poorly planned out from the start and never knew how to tell the story it really wanted to.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles
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.
Mania Grade: C
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 14 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 650
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: E's Otherwise