Battle Athletes Victory Vol. #1 (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, April 13, 1999
Release Date: Tuesday, April 13, 1999
What They Say
Welcome to the year 4998, where the most important sporting event for humanity has become the athletic competition for the Cosmo Beauty title. Since only three students from each training school may advance to the University Satellite to compete for this title, we find the midterms are complicated by cut-throat competition between the star athletes, and underhanded deviousness, the sneaky slackards! However, for our heroine, Akari, the real problem is that she just can't fail quietly! If it wasn't bad enough that the competitions are televised, Akari is also the daughter of the most famous Cosmo Beauty winner ever, Tomoe Mido!
When you combine her famous mom with her bad luck, Akari always winds up a focal point in whatever event is going on. Fortunately good friends and constant practice are a sure remedy for bizarre plots and insane athletic competitions, so there may be hope for her yet!
Includes Episodes one through four: Ready Go!, Kowloon's Attack!, The Night Of Woong-A-Ji, My Rival.
If you want more background on the world that makes up the TV series, check out the reviews for the 3 Battle Athletes OVA's that have been previously released.
As has been said elsewhere, it's to a point now where it's really hard to find anything wrong with the audio or video on a Pioneer disc. Battle Athletes Victory easily continues this tradition. The video is just plain gorgeous, very vibrant and all around a pleasure to watch. I could find no hints of pixellation or artifacting distorting the image in any way. Excellent video transfer.
The audio, presented in standard Dolby Stereo, makes good use of the front soundstage. There are several very directional scenes that work well, though I couldn't detect anything being sent to the rear surround channels. Not surprising, some TV series do and some don't.
Curiously, Pioneer has placed this disc in a white keepcase. Is this a trend for all their future releases? I personally don't mind it at all, though I hope the Tenchi series completes in the black keepcases for continuity, and that BAV uses white throughout. The cover artwork is very nice (exactly what was on the VHS release). The back cover is very descriptive and contains a lot of information (including episode #'s), but without becoming overly crowded.
The menu... it's a step back. It's pretty much what we saw in the OVA series. Since it's got a graphic moving as well as lighting the section its going over, it's very slow and cumbersome. Disappointment #1 with this disc. It's not something that would make me not buy the disc, but it's a reminder of something not done as well as could be. The submenus are otherwise very well done, no speed issues there. This disc also makes a step forward by providing chapter access. Unfortunately, chapter access is a bit more limited than I would like, but we'll delve into that in a bit.
Another plus in this release is the use of yellow subtitles. I hope this'll happen with more newer releases from them, because to my eyes, things were a lot more readable and easier on the eyes. All we need now is borders and consistency and I'll never say another world on subtitling for Pioneer again!
One thing caught my eye though, as I brought up the menu. The first selection doesn't say Play Show or just Play. It says Play Movie. Err, wait a minute. It's a TV series. Therein lies the major step back taken with this release.
This is basically the VHS version. You start with the opening, and then all four episodes play continuously. The openings and endings have been removed from the middle episodes. The eye-catches are gone. The flow of the show is very stilted during the changes to each episode. This, to me, is just wrong wrong wrong.
Let me tie this into my previous chapter selection problem. On Tenchi in Tokyo, you can skip chapters very easily. The opening is a chapter, the first half of the show is a chapter, the second half (starting with the eyecatch) is a chapter, and the ending is a chapter.
If you like watching all the episodes on the disc with openings and endings, you're set. You just let them flow.
If you don't like them, you hit "skip" twice and you're at the next episode. Everybody is happy.
Not here. The opening is part of the entire first episode, which is the first chapter. Episode 2 is an entire chapter, episode 3 and four as well. The ending is on its own chapter, and then the previews.
Unfortunately, with the way this disc is set up, unless you watch it through at once, you cannot watch it in a proper episodic way, as many people, myself included, do. Even my wife commented on the abruptness of the changes from episode to episode. Honestly, I can understand this for the VHS versions. Fast forwarding isn't something that's good for wear and tear on a tape, and it takes time. But the DVD technology, and this is pretty much the basics, makes this something where everyone can be happy.
Pioneer dropped the ball big time on this one in my eyes.
But, to move on, let me talk about the show itself briefly. I loved the OVA series a lot, and looked forward to having another TV series out on DVD. I've heard comments that the TV series (which takes place a year or so before the OVA series) is like comparing the Tenchi OVA's to the Tenchi in Tokyo TV series. Same characters, much different style and humor.
This first DVD in the series had us laughing out loud many times. The characters are very enjoyable (many favorites are emerging, the most notable being Itchan), and some favorite voice actress are in it as well (Ryoko from Tenchi voices the teacher in the Japanese version). This is definitely an ensemble cast series.
Side note: Do the huge shoujo style eyes remind anyone else of a particular Urusei Yatsura OVA?
The story also seems to be going in some interesting directions, especially if it does tie directly into the OVA series, in regards to the headmaster. There's definitely a lot of room and places to go in this series, and some of the contests are just insane (where do they come up with these things?).
If you enjoyed the OVA series, you'll enjoy this. If you're looking for something light, fun and just a bit crazy, check out this disc.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Battle Athletes