Saint Tail Vol. #1 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, January 30, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, August 28, 2001



What They Say
Based on the Saint Tail manga of Tachigawa Megumi currently being published by MIXX, Saint Tail is equal parts magic, romance and adventure that will appeal to fans of Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura.
Meimi Haneoka is a seemly ordinary student at St. Paulia's Catholic school by day, but at night, she becomes the mysterious and magical thief Saint Tail! With the guidance of her best friend (and nun-in-training), Seira Mimori, Saint Tail is steals back the treasures that were stolen from the innocent.

But despite her virtuous motives she's still a thief and her classmate, Asuka Jr., the son of a famous detective, is determined to discover Saint Tail's true identity. Of course it doesn't help her case that Saint Tail has a secret crush on her pursuer and leaves clues for the young detective. Will the young sleuth catch her this time? Or this time, will she steal his heart?

The Review!
Adding yet another title from the "This'll never get licensed" pile to the "oh my god they licensed it!" pile, Saint Tail has arrived on the region 1 shores. First, this show looks fantastic. Second, it's soooo cute! Third... there's a few problems.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. And this is a good thing because if we listened to it in English, we wouldn't have heard any vocals with the opening or ending song, as they ended up using the karaoke version for that track. But even the Japanese track isn't completely set in this regard as neither the opening or the ending is subtitled. The show was done in 1995, so it's pretty recent but still has primarily a center-channel based soundtrack. The volume on both tracks is a fair shade lower than normal though, but otherwise we had no noticeable problems.

Video:
While this show is fairly recent, the style upon which its done gives it more of a mid 1980's feel to me. The character designs are simple and the animation is done more towards the typical children's style. What we get with the transfer is something that's a bit soft looking but done by intent, with lots of very subdued colors and an almost pastel look at times. It looks like some very good masters were used here as there was little I found a problem with while watching this disc. Well, other than the fact that it's got the three episodes spliced together with only one opening and ending. But like their first release of Miyu, we've heard that future volumes will contain the proper openings and endings. Hopefully with subtitles.

Packaging:
If you don't know what you're getting into when you buy this disc, you obviously didn't check out the cover. The primary image of Meimi in her Saint Tail outfit, complete with top hat and wand, lets you know right off the bat that you're going in to watch a cute magical girl show. It may not be as sugary coated as Card Captor Sakura, but it's going to rot the insides of you just as easily. The back cover gives a brief synopsis of the show and then lists the three episodes by number and title with a one-line blurb about the story. Features are clearly listed and the technical information is all easily checked out. The color insert provides a different shot than the cover but similar while the reverse side of it talks briefly about the two seasons that the show ran and then a bit more on each of the episodes. There's also a black and white smaller insert that lists all of the Japanese voice actors for each of the episodes in greater detail. I tell you, Junko Iwao shows up everywhere.

Menus:
The menu system is pretty much the same as what we saw with Vampire Princess Miyu. You get a nice static image with some animation playing in a window. The menu selections are all easily accessed (again, a bit fuzzy in the image) and moving between menus is nice and quick. These are pretty decent menus.

Extras:
The only included extra (unless you count the karaoke opening and ending on the English track as one) is the image gallery, which has a bunch of really cute pictures of Meimi and friends.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I managed to catch the first four episodes of Saint Tail a few years back and remembering liking it for its simplicity and cute characters. The show appears to be set in a European city, where our central character is Meimi, a bubbly junior high school girl with one big secret. With a special magical amulet, she can transform herself into Saint Tail, a thief (but not a crook) who helps out people in need.

Meimi is assisted in all of this by her good friend Seira who she goes to school with. Seira is also a nun in training, so she ends up coming across a lot of people who need help. This is a perfect setup for the two of them to do what they do best, and it works well for them. Their friendship is probably one of the strongest things in this show.

There's got to be a rival though, someone who just gets under Meimi's skin. Who better than a somewhat arrogant boy in her class? Asuka Jr. is the son of the cities pre-eminent detective (who is easily baffled). Asuka's the kind of kid who knows he's going to be something big someday and just can't wait to get going on it. His path to fame is going to be uncovering who Saint Tail is, which is frustrating for Meimi as she has feelings for Asuka but can't help confounding him in his quest for glory.

We also get to know Meimi's parents a bit, but they don't figure in as heavily early on. Their main point is to show how unlike normal parents they are in their relationship, in that they're quite open with their affection and playfulness with each other... something that seriously embarrasses Meimi.

For the first three episodes of this fourty-three episode series, things are fairly episodic as we get introduced to the various characters and how they interact with each other. The rivalry between Saint Tail and Asuka Jr. is nicely set up, seeing how Meimi and Seira work together is done well and watching the slightly incompetent police officers do their job with the aid of a mysterious junior high school girl is just fun in general.

On the downside, in terms of how the disc is put together, is that here are 3 overlays. Each time that Meimi leaves a message for Asuka from Saint Tail, they overlay the card with English text. What's even more silly about it is that what they read aloud in the dub doesn't match what's on the card. It's an exercise in pointlessness. Thankfully, it looks as if those are the only overlays in here.

Saint Tail isn't going to be an overnight sensation, but it's a great addition to my library of titles. It's one of those titles that even after I pack away 90% of what I buy, this one will stay out for my daughter to watch and enjoy. Even with the couple of issues on this first release, I'd still recommend it for those who enjoy the magical girl genre and are looking for something that makes you feel good.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Image Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: C
Video Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: TOKYOPOP
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Saint Tail