Phantom Quest Corp. (of 1) (

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, November 21, 2000
Release Date: Tuesday, November 21, 2000

What They Say
Party-girl Ayaka Kisaragi turned her late-night lifestyle into a business that gives new meaning to the term ?graveyard shift!? While it may seem easier for Ayaka to round up troublesome spirits than to put a corporate spin on her own free-wheeling habits, she calls upon a powerful but quirky cadre of cabalists to solve each case with flair and style. Too bad style doesn?t pay the bills! No matter the terrors the dark can bring, Ayaka will be sure they get a kiss good-night from Phantom Quest, Corp ? if she can wake up in time!

The Review!
Back in the day, being the old fogy that I am, I remember quite fondly picking up the laserdisc-only release from Pioneer of Phantom Quest Corp Vol. #1. Two episodes, bilingual, for 39.95$ I believe. The original Japanese sleeve with a sticky English page slapped onto the back of it. Sliding that big old laserdisc into the player and settling into something that the VHS folks simply didn't have.

I loved it. A good funny show with some great looking animation, though maybe slightly below OVA standards of the time. But overall, a very enjoyable show and one that I shipped off to my wife-to-be to watch, which has since become one of her classic favorites.

As part of their pricing tests, Pioneer has opted to take this catalog title, a total of four episodes (which represents all that was made) and put it on one DVD for the low price of 14.95$. Having spent a lot of money on this show in the past on two laserdiscs, seeing this kind of collection for as low as 9$ online was great and definitely an easy addition to the library.

Both the Japanese and English audio tracks sound pretty good to our ears, which certainly aren't golden. There's not a lot of directionality from this show, being from the early 90's, but the music definitely fills things nicely, especially the great fun that is the opening song. We didn't notice any distortions or dropouts during normal playback.

For a lot of the show, things look pretty good. Colors are solid with vibrant areas where appropriate with no noticeable oversaturation or bleeding. There are a few areas where things take a noticeable downturn, such as sequences with a lot of deep blues or the dark blue/black night sky where there's some quite noticeable compression artifacts. For the most part, the rainbows were minor and were kept mostly to the edges of characters themselves and then most in their hair. The areas where the show really shines is during the combat sequence in each episode and the OVA level animation looks great here.

Though I do have a particular fondness for the old laserdisc packaging, especially since it was the original Japanese packaging at the same time, when I first saw the new cover being used for the DVD release I was simply wowed. It wasn't what I expected but it sold it perfectly. The back cover is a bit hard to read with the font used, but the summary is decent and the listing of what's on the disc covers all the bases. The insert is another of the sideways type, which allows for a lot more interesting types of artwork used and looks great.

Though not up to the same level as some of their other recent discs, they're definitely nothing like the old menus. The menu is laid out pretty nicely with selections easy to access and in a logical way. Moving through the menus is trouble free and everything works as it should. My only real gripe with the menu here, and it's something that's crept into a few other discs such as the Dual series is that you can't press "stop" while in the menus to stop the disc from playing. It's simply a locked out feature and makes no sense to be locked out. We often queue up a disc in the player some time before we sit down to watch it, but leaving it running with the menu music comes through into our regular cable playback (DVD goes to receiver to speakers, cable goes to TV speakers). Very annoying "feature" that's being used here.

The extras included are pretty good, with some interesting ways of bringing some of the old laserdisc style into the present. Back then, Pioneer experimented with "single frame overlays" which laserdisc players could freeze on. They'd do a hard overlay translation of things, such as signs or business cards so you could tell what they said without being in your face about it. On the DVD, they've provided these single frames as selections in the extras menu.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As mentioned at the beginning, Phantom Quest Corp. is a small four episode OVA series. The lead character, Ayaka Kisaragi, is the owner of this company that doesn't quite fall into normal business listings. They're the ones that stop the demons, ghouls and other critters of darkness and evil. Providing Ayaka can wake up on time.

The show has a great many similarities to another one that I believe came out around the same time, Ghost Sweeper Mikami. The small group has money troubles, the company president is sometimes a bit of an airhead (and a poor poor karaoke participant) and the bad guys are sometimes just kinda silly. For a lot of things, the show is pretty stereotypical of a number of OVA series and settings. It's the quirks that helps set it apart with the characters.

Ayaka is also assisted by a detective Kirano from the U division of the police, which of course really isn't explained all that much. He, as well as Ayaka, are a bit older than your typical anime characters which partially explains my attraction to the show. Kirano also has quite the crush on Ayaka, though he does manage to keep it fairly well hidden for the most part. The two have some cute interactions throughout.

The episodes are fairly similar in manner to most of this genre. The group, fighting financial problems, take on the latest case and through both luck and perseverance, manage to solve the cases and make a little money or end up losing it on a technicality, causing great displeasure in the eyes of the shouta token character who is the company accountant. Repeat in next episode with different villain/location.

There are some really good moments throughout though, it's not quite as generic as I may make it seem. The animation throughout looks very good, though the best sequences are always the action ones in each episode. When Ayaka pulls out her lipstick, which turns into her energy blade to take on the various baddies, the quality goes into high gear with some really fluid sequences. The final fight sequence on the rooftop in the last episode is just great both in choreography and animation.

The one thing that truly and completely disappointed me about this release is the opening song. This song, both in Japanese and English, is great! The problem? There's no subtitles for it! Not on any of the episodes and not in the creditless op/ed. The same goes for the ending! You know, some of us do like to have our songs subtitled! Bad bad bad thing to do. Especially when it was subtitled on the laserdisc.

While not for everyone, this is something that a lot of people are going to end up trying based on the price alone. Seriously, how can you go wrong with over 2 hours of animation on DVD for as low as 9$? Even if you don't like it, it's not much of a loss and it may encourage Pioneer to try this style with a few other series.

For fans of the series, there's some loss from the laserdisc releases, but not having to flip across two discs? I'm there.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Non-Credit Opening/Ending,Image Gallery

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: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 14 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 14.95
Running time: 140
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Phantom Quest Corp