Ninja Cadets (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2000
Release Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2000
What They Say
In feudal Japan a war rages between the Byakuro and the evil Kabusu clan. Now, the Kabusu plan to kidnap the infant Byakuro princess, but a ninja manages to escape with the royal cherub. Years later, a young group of Ninja Cadets are about to be put through their final exam. They must sneak into the occupied Byakuro castle and steal a secret scroll. Little do they know that one of them is actually the princess...
Media Blasters has made their first foray into the DVD field with the release of Ninja Cadets, originally known as Ninja Mono when released in Japan. How does it fare?
On the video side, things look pretty good, though there are a few small things. I noticed three instances of what looked like a frame appearing a couple of frames too early. At 15:41, when Yume looks up and the scene shifts, you can see what looks like the early frame. This happened in two other places as well. This could be part of the source material though. Other than that, there were a couple of small instances of what looked to be a nick or two in the master, but nothing terrible at all. The lowered grade is solely from the odd jumps mentioned at the beginning. Other than these instances, the quality of the disc is very good. Black levels are strong and consistent with no noticeable blockiness. Colors are very vibrant in several sequences. Overall, this is a very good looking disc.
The audio is listed as Dolby Digital, which my Panasonic A110 listed as 2.1 channel. My receiver listed the same, though I didn't see much activity on the subwoofer channel (and I have no subwoofer). My Pioneer player just listed it as Dolby Digital however with no channel markings. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout without any noticeable distortion. The front soundstage is used fairly well for the show, but nothing terribly amazing.
The packaging is where some people will run into troubles. The case was made by Scanavo and even contains "raised" instructions to the top right of the disc hub to tell you how to get the disc out. Let's put it this way, if you hate the cases with the two nubs to open it, you're likely to hate this case more. I've already tossed it and replaced it with an Amaray case. The cover artwork is nice and eye catching and the back contains a good amount of information and the Pioneer age rating listing. Unfortunately they don't list the region coding of the disc. There is no insert for this release.
The menus are pretty basic and get to the point. Selections access quickly and are clearly labeled. The only thing that may get to people after awhile or repeated viewings is the English voiceover used when making different selections. These only go off once after selected, so you don't get it each time you go into a submenu. Of course, Sandy Fox fans will want to play them over and over again. The trailer menu contains 11 trailers, but unfortunately there's no indication of whether these are DVD bound or just their catalog in general.
There are several extras available on the disc. In addition to the copious amount of trailers, we get never before seen dubbing bloopers. Some of these are pretty funny while others are "had to be there" types. Still, these are great inclusions and help to get people a bit more acclimated to dubs. There's also a lengthy artwork gallery that plays to music from the show.
The only other error I saw on the disc was during the campfire scene with Pochi and Sakura. There's one section where Sakura is talking but her lines aren't subtitled at all. The subtitles themselves look a little bigger than normal, but they're a very legible yellow with black borders.
Ninja Cadets was originally released back in 1996, during the end period of the OVA boom and the transition to TV series using the same budget. Unfortunately, this means that after the first two episodes no more were produced. The storyline does wrap up fairly well while leaving more than enough room for more episodes, but knowing that there's no more planned may bother some people.
The plot is fairly straightforward. A group of ninja's in training are being given their final test to become true ninjas. The goal is to infiltrate Byakuro Castle and steal a scroll to pass the test. Yes, that's right, there are real ninja scrolls in this flick. Lead by Kauro, the five cadets head off and split up to make the grade.
Unbeknownst to the cadets, one of them is actually a princess. The idea was to hide her from danger this way. This ends up leading to three ninjas who are hunting down this princess, and trying to discover which one she is.
The animation on the disc is pretty good with nice looking character designs and plenty of fan service. The show alternates from dark to comedic, altogether a fairly light and entertaining show. The story isn't deep but well executed. The series could have had potential, moreso if it was down as a television series. There's a lot of familiar elements in there, so those who enjoy ninja stories will be pretty pleased, especially if they enjoy the lighter side
Overall, not a bad first release by Media Blasters. A good title to get their bearings on and to learn what needs to be done for DVD production.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Dubbing bloopers,Art Gallery
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: A
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Media Blasters
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ninja Cadets