EL Box Set (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, February 18, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, January 29, 2002

What They Say
In 2030, nuclear war broke out over the environmental pollution issue. Many people lost their lives due to radioactivity. The people, who survived the barren Earth, started the Megaro Earth Project to save human existence. In a last hope for survival against nuclear war, a city was built in a dome in order to save civilization.

Gimmick, a mysterious man who leads a secret organization called Black Widow, is planning to obstruct the implementation of the Megaro Earth Project. In order to oppose Gimmick's organization, members of the counter terrorism group, led by the lady sniper EL (Shelbee Myne), were formed.

Occasionally, EL helps the beautiful girl Parsley who was once attacked by the Black Widows. Parsley tries to take advantage of EL after getting drunk at Club 1991. Meanwhile, Natsuki (Lola) is being sexually tortured for information by the Sniper Control Office.

The Review!
The two disc set for EL brings the 2000/2001 two episode OVA series to the U.S. with quite a bit of speed and in another of one of the most gorgeous transfers I've seen.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Though this is a fairly recent release, the show is a pretty basic stereo mix with most everything being center channel dominated. The only real exception is the music, but even that is pretty much just filling up the entire forward soundstage with no real directionality. But in the end, it's a decent sounding track with no dropouts or distortions.

Being so new and being an OVA production, EL sports quite a gorgeous looking transfer. The colors are stunning, alternating appropriately between vivid and lusciously soft. Combined with excellent designs and great looking cel painting, we're hard pressed to find anything wrong with this discs visually. At most, we saw maybe a whole two or three seconds of cross coloration on the second episode.

The two keepcases for EL in the box have some decent covers, each one featuring a couple of the female cast in various serious poses. The covers do look great with good looking colors and character poses, though, the uncensored and adults only logos as well as the inclusion of the voice actresses pictures make it feel somewhat crowded. The back covers show off some animation shots from each show and have a good summary of each episode. Features and technical information is nicely listed as well. The box set itself features the a different piece of artwork from the keepcases while the back does a summation of the three keepcase backings. As with all NuTech releases to date, there is no insert included.

The menus here are pretty decent, with a mix of animation and CG providing the intro animation to the menu and then going into a mix of showing the selections with actual shots from the show. While there's a decent bit of intro to it, once you get there you don't see it again unless you start the disc from scratch. Submenus have brief transition animations from the show as well and access times are decent with them but not as fast as we'd normally like. Overall the look and designs of the menus are pretty good.

The usual array of minor extras show up in this series with each disc featuring the same ones. The video galleries run between one and two minutes, with the anime one providing some nice clean shots and cel work while the voice actress ones give our actresses some decent pictures.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The story of El is a pretty interesting one. The show takes place in 2030 after a nuclear war has destroyed most life on Earth. What appears to be the remaining outpost of humanity is the Megaro City, a sizeable and high-tech city where everyone lives in hopes of restoring humanity across the world again some day.

The city is set up in an interesting way. The police, or something close to resembling them, are known as the Sniper Control. There's also such places as the Hospital Control, Social Report Control and others similarly named. The folks at Social Report are the ones who keep track of everything in the city, often utilizing high-tech floating "eyes" that see all and transmit back to them. The city is definitely advanced looking, especially considering that it's post WW3, but the way it plays it works nice.

The show for us eventually settles on telling the tale of El, a red haired beauty whose a Sniper. She's the kind who takes her job seriously but doesn't abuse it. The entire section is rather alive with excitement as one of their better members had returned the night before with someone who is a Black Widow. Black Widows are people who are working for Mr. Gimmick, someone whose identity is mysterious and has just as mysterious goals for the city. Gimmick's operatives often don't even realize what happens as he uses the cities technology against them by using the "eyes" to place someone under his control.

This doesn't stop the Sniper folks from torturing the young woman who was duped into work for Gimmick. Across the two episodes, we have two torture segments, which are the only parts of the show that I just flat out didn't care for. Most of the show ends up dealing with El and a woman who she ends up being a bodyguard for. Parsley, the beautiful blue haired pop idol. And naturally, the two end up falling for each other and providing some fun sequences together.

What's really surprising about this show is just how well the writers pulled off the surprise ending. In fact, I'm impressed at just how well they managed to wrap up any kind of story as well as they did in just the two episodes. The shows internal continuity works well, but if there's anything that proves to be a downside is that there's too many characters in general and most don't get fleshed out that well. But the primary characters manage to come across nicely and their story is the one that really counts in the end.

El isn't going to rock the world, but it's a really slick little two-parter that tells an interesting story and provides some gorgeous visuals at times. You just may want to skim the torture scenes.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Anime Photo Gallery,Stars Photo Galleries

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: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: C
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: NuTech Digital, Inc.
MSRP: 39.95
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: EL