Silent Mobius Vol. #1 (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, June 20, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, June 18, 2002



What They Say
2023. Beings known as "Lucifer Hawk" have begun invading earth from another dimension. All that stands between them and the enslavement of the human race is the Attacked Mystification Police Department - a special division of the Tokyo Police staffed by women with amazing paranormal abilities. Will the abilities of Katsumi and the AMP be enough to defeat these forces of darkness?

From acclaimed Japanese manga artist – Kia Asamiya!
Nine episodes in a 2-disc DVD set!

The Review!
Based off of the popular manga, something long running here in the US, the anime version of Silent Mobius hit snags during its VHS run, but all the episodes have finally been dubbed. The sweet side is that we get this in three separate collections of episodes at a sweet price.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The series features a solid stereo mix with some nice moments of directionality throughout it. There’s nothing noticeable sent to the rear speakers, but it doesn’t adversely affect things here as this is a good sounding track. Dialogue is crisp and clean and we noticed no dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Part of the new wave of TV series released in 1998 that were using more and more digital animation and coloring to provide some striking designs, Silent Mobius manages to have a really solid transfer for the most part. The main fault that will be found with it, outside of some aliasing during some panning sequences, is the dreaded cross coloration. It’s fairly minimal on our main setup, but we noticed it a bit more on our office TV. Colors are well done in this series, alternating between bright vivid night time looks to the softer almost dreamlike daytime sequences.

Packaging:
Using one of the single keepcases with an inserted hinge, both discs fit snugly inside here. The front cover features a great looking piece of artwork with Katsumi in the foreground while Rally and the city are behind her. The front cover also includes a small “01” on it, the only indication of which number this is as episode numbers and titles are not listed on the back. There’s a brief summary and a couple of nice collages of artwork as well as the listing of features and production credits. With a strong cast of female characters, Bandai’s offered up a reversible cover on this one, with a great image of Nami by herself.

Bandai and Viz have teamed up with this release as there’s also a small mini comic included from the original manga series, and it looks like we can expect at least one more. Also included was a great foldout piece of artwork that becomes a miniposter. The artwork for that is done by Asamiya, so it’s closer to the manga than the anime, but still gorgeous. The insert provides another shot of the Katsumi cover while it folds open to reveal some small bios on both her and Nami. The back side provides the full credits listing for the shows.

Menu:
Using the pentagram from the show as well as parts of the logo with the lightning crackling over it, the main menu loads up to the opening song and looks and sounds great. There’s little to the discs outside of playing the show, so the menus are fairly minimal but nicely styled with solid access times. Moving around is straightforward and we liked the overall look and feel of them.

Extras:
The only extra included is on the second volume, which is a good textless opening. With as busy as the opening is, it was well worth it to sit down and just focus on the animation here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After enjoying something like seven volumes of the translated manga, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the anime. After the first nine episodes, I have to say I’m extremely pleased as a fan, and getting the opinion of someone whose never read the manga, they found it to be quite good as well.

The story of Silent Mobius takes place in the year 2024, about 20 years after a horrific event that led to the destruction of ninety percent of the planet. This event also led a race of creatures from the planet Nemesis to Earth. These creatures come here infrequently, but when they do, they cause nasty problems. There’s a variety of them that show up, each one falling into one of three categories. Some are just basic dumb creatures that attack and kill while others are cold calculating beings with agendas of their own.

To combat this, in the rather high tech resurrected city of Tokyo, Rally Cheyenne has created a police group named the AMP, or Attacked Mystification Police. With the changes in society from the earlier event, the police in this city are run more as a business than as a government agency. That plays little into things once the AMP gets formalized as an actual unit however. But it does provide an insight into some of the rivalries between divisions, and some of the affairs that bloom from it.

The AMP is made up solely of women, and rather strong women at that. Opposite of series that feature cute and overly young girls, Silent Mobius instead goes for somewhat of an older skew and more mature women for the most part. This is reflected strongly in their character designs, which are extremely faithful to the Asamiya manga. In a sea of lookalike character designs out there today, these look very striking and extremely appealing. The almost angular look manages to set them apart nicely from the typical kiddie fare.

While Rally leads the department, the lead character is actually Katsumi Liqueur. She’s newly returned from Hawaii at the request of Rally who has information on her fathers death. It’s her father, we learn, that caused the event that nearly killed everyone years ago, and she’s necessary to fight the invading creatures from Nemesis. Naturally we go through a phase of denial and eventually acceptance when she’s confronted with the enemy, but these are thankfully brief and tinged with some somber moments as Katsumi realizes something bigger is going on.

For the most part, with nine episodes of a series at the beginning, you know what to expect. Most of the characters get an episode to themselves, or part of a small arc and some background, that helps flesh them out and expose their differences. Katsumi plays the eyes of the group since she’s new, letting us see the tough and somewhat singled minded Kiddy or the quiet and compliant Nami. There’s also a couple of relationships that start up fairly easily, but are done in such a way that it’s pretty easily believable.

What makes this show work and stand out is how well the cast plays off of each other. While it’s a fairly dark and serious show, the cast isn’t always somber and gloomy. Bad stuff happens, but there’s always moments during the day when you just have to laugh. And that’s realized here nicely, giving the characters more dimension early on than normal. The animation for this show is also quite well done, though it does slack off some as it progresses. What’s interesting to note, and it seems fairly consistent, is how the night and day sequences are treated.

During the daytime sequences, things are overly bright for the most part. Colors are soft and almost fuzzy, giving it a dreamlike feel. But when the show shifts to a night time sequence, indoors or out, the colors become much sharper and vivid, more lively. I don’t think we see the Nemesis critters all that active during the day either, giving them more of a home in the night.

Silent Mobius has a nice mix of a police drama, science fiction and mystical setting. It’s also nicely done as a more mature one, with characters firmly out of their teens and with some life experience behind them. I wasn’t sure how much I’d be able to get into the anime having enjoyed the manga as much as I have, but I’m pleasantly surprised by how well it’s turned out so far and can’t wait to get my hands on more episodes. Very recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening

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: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 44.95
Running time: 225
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Silent Mobius