Burn Up W (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, June 27, 2000

What They Say
Team Warrior is no laughing matter for the criminals of Neo-Tokyo. Led by the fearless Rio, this top-secret counter-terrorist force will stop at nothing to preserve their version of the peace. From assault by bungee jump to giant mecha destruction, Rio, Yugi, Maki and Lilica spare no extreme in the forging of their own brand of justice. Plagued by kidnapped virtual idols, financial woes and marginally restrained violent proclivities, the members of Team Warrior skate the edge of comic insanity to bring you Burn-Up W

The Review!
Burn Up W is definitely one of those better value DVD's that come out from the anime studios. When it was originally released in 1997 from ADV, the four OVA's were split onto four tapes. I know, I got them (thanks to the Cool Anime Specials ADV has had over the past year). Of course, just after I got those, it was hinted that it was DVD bound.

ADV tends to go a bit farther with their DVD releases than most other companies in terms of audio. In addition to a pretty solid English audio track (only a few voices annoyed me, really!) to my usual favorite, the Japanese track, they also include their Spanish language track. All of them sounded good with no discernable distortion or dropouts. Since it's just an OVA series and one that didn't look to have a huge budget, it's encoded with a stereo mix. No disappointments here at all.

The individual OVA's aren't that longer, with a combined running time of 110 minutes (Vol. 3 is slightly longer than the rest). ADV used the dub video master for the basis of the DVD so things look pretty good overall. There's a few soft scenes which seem to be more from the source material and a couple places of pixellation here and there. The area that will probably raise the most eyes is during one of the toughest to encode areas. The openings for the 3rd and 4th episodes have a lot of very busy black and white line art of the character designs set against a manga style background. So during these two brief sequences there are a lot of rainbow effects. The character designs themselves are very smooth throughout the shows so it doesn't show up elsewhere, at least that my eye detected. Each episode is presented from start to completion and not spliced together like one long movie.

ADV also employed the use of alternate angles again to solve the problem of the end credits for this catalog title. When credits play, depending on your setup, a camera icon will come up and you can switch. This is pretty much dependent on the kind of player you have and how it reacts. I know with both my Pioneer and Apex players I have the icon disabled. The only thing that really needs to be tweaked on the authoring end for this is that when you have the audio selected to Japanese, when the video starts play angle 2. Hopefully ADV will do this with future releases that use alternate angles. The credits, for those who wonder, appear to be the full subtitled version credits with cast and creators. Definitely a good solution for older titles that use dub video masters.

The packaging for this release is pretty nice. it's a larger version of VHS Vol. #3 with three of the main women in their combat suits posing and giving good fan service. Eye-catching? Indeed. The back cover gives a quick rundown of the series as well as providing glimpses of the animation and menu screens and the list of features. The insert has a close up of the cover of VHS Vol. 1. Overall, if you have someone look over the box for a few seconds, they'll have a good idea of what's inside.

Unlike some of their previous releases, the menus here are pretty straightforward with little in the way of animation. They've all got music running in the background but some of the bits of animation previously used to move from menu to menu isn't here. They have however started naming things differently to keep it in the tone of the show. Language selection is Lingo Dispatch, the photo gallery is called Case Photos. DVD credits? Rap sheet. You get the point. Things are all very functional and selections are accessed quickly. Well done overall.

So all things told, we've got a solid disc here with no real issues. As important as that is, the content itself rates just as high! I've had no previous experience with the world of Burn Up so I was definitely looking forward to watching this. From the covers, you can guess the genre easily; babes with guns. That's definitely not a bad thing though as it's a tried and true genre that can deliver some good results. Burn Up W feels like a lighter and racier version of Bubblegum Crisis.

You've got the team of women, though these work for a special division of the police department, who wear slick tight fitting suits and use near future weapons to fight crime. They've all got well defined personalities as far as one can develop in a four episode OVA series. The first two episodes are pretty much stand alone for the majority of it while the second two is a two parter. The second set of episodes definitely takes the series to a darker turn than the first two which came as a bit of a surprise.

From what I can tell, Burn Up W serves as a short "bridge" series between Burn Up and Burn Up Excess. There's an underlying storyline of a new virtual drug that's being marketed to global leaders that is spread through all four episodes and gets rather prominent in the two parter. Unfortunately in the end nothing is really resolved, which is why it seems to just be setting up a longer series.

The show also has some fun in-jokes scattered throughout it. The second episode where they're going against a combat android, the somewhat ditzy mechanical guru shows off her new toy. It's a huge android itself that takes 29 minutes to actually target something. And it looks almost exactly like Eva-01. There are probably a bunch of other references throughout the series that I missed, but this was definitely the most obvious one.

This is a fun show, a real guilty pleasure kind. The character designs vary between cute and "how does she walk?!". Of course, with my penchant for women with green hair, Maya definitely is the cute one out of the four. The animation is pretty fluid in places, but very consistent. It definitely makes me want to see more of it. The overall production values are good and it's what you expect from a director like Hiroshi Negishi of Tenchi Muyo fame. Definitely worth picking up.

English Language,Japanese Language,Spanish Language,English Subtitles,Case Files,Alternate Angle for Japanese Credits

Review Equipment
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.

Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 110
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Burn-Up W