La Blue Girl Returns: Shikima Lust (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, April 23, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, April 06, 2010

It's all about the Shikima Brain and long lost loves as Miko finally finds her first man.

What They Say
Carnal Combat! Sex ninja Miko Mido thrashes the forces of evil with her sensual martial arts, but one thing she's never been able to catch is a man of her own... until now. Miko's new squeeze just might be Mister Right - or he may be in league with the lascivious forces of darkness. Just goes to show, supernatural sex friends are pesky, but men are definitely evil. Hell hath no fury like a sex ninja scorned!

Contains episodes 3-4.

The Review!
Audio:
La Blue Girl Returns retains its original language tracks so we get a pair of bilingual stereo mixes here encoded at 192kbps. As much as I've tried in the past, I still can't enjoy the show in English so we went with the tried and true original Japanese mix. The show continues to have a decent stereo mix though it's far improved over the original release. The music and sound effects make better use of the forward soundstage with things feeling less like they're center channel based. Dialogue is clean and clear on all three tracks and we noted no dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally released in 2002, the transfer for this two episode OVA release is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This release is just a newly duplicated copy of what Anime 18 released back in 2002, but it looks much better than the previous La Blue Girl series since it was made from more recent materials at the time. Overall, this release is a mixed bag. The colors are very vibrant and vivid, practically leaping off of the screen at times without being over saturated. The main visual problem we found with the transfer comes from the cross coloration that shows up in numerous areas, such as characters hair on regularly or some of the more detailed areas like the lenses of glasses. It's not rampant throughout but somewhat specific. Other than that, this is just a gorgeous looking release.

Packaging:
Similar to the first cover of this series, this one is darkened up a bit around the edges to give it more menace instead of the semi-lighthearted approach that the first one had. We do get the same artwork which looks really good here with Miko being the central focus in the foreground with the tentacles wrapping all around her as she's unable to move. What makes it a bit worse is that the logo, both the main one and the subtitle, blend in so much to the artwork that it looks too murky in that area. With the blue of the logo or the yellow and red from the subtitle, it just doesn't stand out enough. The artwork itself is appealing, but I'm leaning towards liking the original more. The back cover mirrors what we saw previously with Critical Masses other La Blue Girl titles with a dark background that has some tentacles along the side with circles filled with shots from the show. Miko gets the main character artwork nod this time with her in her classic outfit with the big bow to the right and the summary tackles the basics of the show and this particular series. The disc has some solid extras to it and those are all clearly listed as well. The bottom grid is filled out with accurate technical information and a few minor pieces of production information. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
Using the bright and bouncy opening music here, the original Anime 18 menus have a fun little that fits the show nicely with bright colors and little circles showing pieces of the anime running in it. This was definitely one of the cuter menus I've seen from them, which is amusing since it's a hentai release. Selections are quick to access and moving between the menus is nice and fast as there are no transition animations. The layout is pretty standard CPM style, so if you've seen one disc you know how to get around it.

Extras:
There's not much new here, and sadly no continuing commentary from the last volume. We do get about a minute worth of a video gallery of the La Blue Girl comic series and a two minute sketch gallery of black and white artwork for various pieces of the show. The storyboards to animation feature returns here again though, with its highly amusing pointer feature providing some good laughs for the setup.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Even years later, much to my surprise, I look forward to what these shows open with. That little green bunny pop up prior to a show and I know I'm generally going to be entertained. La Blue Girl Returns has been no exception to that apparent rule.

After the previous volume, where the Mahoroba was the main threat that was trying to take over the Shikima world, Miko's father has sent her and the other two girls on a specific mission to discover the passageway to the Shikima Brain so they can secure it and make sure they're never threatened again. Of course, such a thing is rather difficult to do for anyone, even a sex ninja woman. But thanks to the modern thinking of Fubuki, they're going to get on the internet and discover the information they need!

Since none of them have any clue what to do with a computer, outside of Nin-Nin who makes excellent use of the mouse, Miko gets the aid of Maho, the brother of a friend of hers at University. He offers to help easily enough, and after getting them and their site running, the two end up getting rather hot for each other, but have to slow up as Yaku and Fubuki arrive back. After seeing him off, the girls set up their stuff and end up with a response surprisingly quickly. Apparently a relative of the Miroku clan is in their very city!

This introduces a new character to the group, the pink haired Kanako, a young woman whose in nursing training that has learned some of the carnal arts from her grandmother, and was told that someday she would be called by the Miko clan to perform duties for them. That day has come in her mind when she discovered the keywords, and upon entering the room, practically takes Miko right then and there. Unfortunately, it was cut short! Kanako's introduction is naturally well timed, as not long afterwards an incident happens where tentacles come flying out of the computer monitor and send Fubuki into a hallucinatory dream.

Wouldn't you know it? Kanako is interning with a doctor who specializes in this! From here, things start to really build as the women all end up getting into the same hallucinatory dream, and discover a clan that works to protect the very existence of the Shikima Brain, and now that Miko and the others are looking for it, they must be eliminated. Throw in some past lives, past loves and a whole lot of tentacle sex in great full color glory, and this is a really fun couple of episodes. There's some underlying subplots here and there about another race of demons trying to gain passage to the Shikima Brain as well as some amusing moments of Maho's sister getting things going with Miko, but the main thrust tends to be the relationship between Maho and Miko in the past and how it's affecting things now.

In Summary:
Revisiting this title after nearly eight years, I found myself still liking it a lot and that it does hold up pretty well against a lot of shows animated today. This one was a lot of fun like the first volume, just without the gorgeous butterfly style designs. The level of visual quality in these OVAs is amazing and while it's hentai, it's got a fun enough plot to follow along with, especially since they've managed to keep some kind of continuity going for so many years now with as few episodes as there are of this series. Some of the shows that Critical Mass has picked up from the old Anime 18 library aren't worth much, but La Blue Girl is one of the shows that needs to be kept out there in some form and I'm glad that it's there, though I would have preferred a full on new job be done on it rather than just repressing what came out eight years ago..

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Storyboards

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.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 18 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Critical Mass Video
MSRP: 24.99
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: La Blue Girl