Moldiver (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, April 24, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, April 24, 2001



What They Say
Hiroshi Ozora meant to create a super powered suit to combat crime and make himself a media darling, but after his sister Mirai modified the suit to include high heels and silk stockings, he had to modify his plans. Now Mirai must defeat the nefarious and strange Dr. Machinegal and his army of female robots before she can get back to shopping and trying to win the heart of the handsome astronaut, Mr. Misaki! The entire 6 episode series on one disc!

The Review!
Pioneer's gotten around to releasing yet another of their original anime series on one Perfect Collection style disc. With six episodes and a 19.95$ price point, can they or the fans really go wrong?

Audio:
For our primary review session, we listened to this disc in English. Yep, you got that right. Moldiver's one of the early Pioneer dubs and like Tenchi and El-Hazard, it's one of the dubs we really enjoy. Of course, there's the problem of the subtitles being a port of the old close captioned subtitles (which are very very close to the dub but not exact) which means in several scenes you have "Mirai: blah blah" or "Crowd: oooooooh!". While it doesn't bother me, it drove my wife nuts after the first ten minutes and we had to switch to English. Both tracks sound pretty decent with a simple stereo mix and the majority of dialogue coming through the center channel.

Video:
While there's nothing exceptionally bad at all about the transfer, the source materials are starting to show their age a bit. There's a few nicks here and there and a hair or two. But this is also the best that Moldiver has ever looked. Colors are nice and solid and there's hardly any rainbowing but a decent amount of line noise. It's pretty solid. What's amusing, at least to me, is to see how far Pioneer has come since they started releasing things back in the early 90's. Watch the end credits, which is with the translated credit style they used. Moldiver was either their 2nd or third laserdisc released in the U.S., so this is like an archaeological dig. Compare those credits to anything anyone has a problem with today and it'll put some perspective into things, at least from the point of view of some older fans.

Packaging:
The front cover is a nice close-up of Mirai in her version of the Moldiver suit looking all super-heroey and eye-catching. The back cover gives a couple of nice shots of animation as well as episode listings and a nice complete list of extras as opposed to the usual tag of "Extras!". The insert provides another nice couple of pieces of artwork along with the episode and chapter listings. It's a nice looking package.

Menus:
The main menu provides some nice stylized and active menus with music that are similar to the Moldiver's control system. Access times between the menus is brisk and the layout works very well. These are nice interactive menus, and I believe the first we've seen from Koyo Graphic International. We'll be looking forward to seeing what else they come up with.

Extras:
This disc does a number of things right in terms of the extras. The first is the inclusion of a 15 minute "documentary" piece called the Secret of Moldiver. It's a series of 6 or 7 pieces where the characters talk about the show, the science and the production staff. There's a segment afterwards that talks with the director as well. This extra wasn't included back on the original laserdisc release in the U.S., so having it here is something nice and new for the collector. We've also got on thing I'm extremely happy to have, the Japanese cover art gallery. For those who don't know, Pioneer's initial laserdisc-only releases in the U.S. had covers that were the Japanese laserdisc covers. All they did was create a sheet that stuck to the back with the back translated into English. These covers were great vibrant looking pieces that really sold the show to those few fans who had laserdisc players back then. We've also got a nice production gallery which I believe replicates a lot of the insert material found in the old laserdiscs as well as a non-credit opening and ending (which we did not have on the laserdiscs). This a really nice set of extras and having it on top of all six episodes is great.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Moldiver is a show that has something you don't see too often in anime or manga. Super-Heroes. While not of the classic American kind, this is one of the closest ones done and one of the very few ones brought over. Moldiver was an early series done by Pioneer and AIC that was released in Japan and the US as six laserdiscs running for 34.95$. Each laserdisc contained 30 minutes of beautiful animation in a lovely package. While the DVD is in a nice package, it does pale to the laserdisc ones, but that's just going to happen. Where it shines is having all six episodes on one discs and for under 20 bucks at that.

The show takes place sometime in the not so far future but a time where things are rather different than they are now. As usual, we're in Tokyo. The main character we identify with is the young Mirai Ozora. She's an up and coming beauty contest winner who competes regularly, mostly to make money to pay off her credit card bills. She's not a ditz, but she's usually not thinking things all the way through.

We also have her older brother Hiroshi, a tech geek and collector of antique electronics (the VHD player was hilarious). When he's not collection competing with the Professor, he's off building his Mol unit, a device which for 10 minutes transforms the wearer into a suit that basically defies all laws of physics. Hiroshi designs a nicely designed helmeted super-hero whose quite muscular and looks like the classic type. After his public performances, Mirai discovers his secret and tweaks the suit to produce something just a bit more stylish.

As the episodes progress, Mirai begins to handle the suit more than her brother since she appears to be more adept at it. We also get to deal with the "evil" Machinegal, which is the Professor's plan to steal all the truly collectible antique electronics in the world, from the only F1 racer left to one of NASA's old space shuttles. Machinegal doesn't get personally involved, but he's usually at all the events where items are being stolen. He uses his army of women to perform his theft, a rather alluring group of women named after famous actresses from the 20th century.

Moldiver starts off in a fairly light and fun way with the hook of Mirai's enthusiasm and naivety. As the episodes progress towards their conclusion, things get more and more serious with the mix between the thefts and Mirai's romantic feelings towards an older friend. The supporting cast is good and the general layout of the show is fun and slightly addictive when watching. This is also one of Pioneer's best early dubs and one that we still enjoy listening to all these years later. Heck, this is back when they used to dub their songs!

Moldiver's not a life changing anime or one that people will build massive shrines to. But it is a good three hours of fun of early 90's OVA quality that can be had for 15 bucks online. After selling off our laserdiscs back in 1997 of this series and having only the region 2 DVD released back in 1998, this is the best this series has ever looked and it's great to finally have it back in my collection. Very recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Non Credit Opening/Ending,Making of Video,Conceptual Artwork,Japanese LD Cover Art

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 19.99
Running time: 180
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Moldiver