Magic Users Club Vol. #6 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, April 02, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, February 26, 2002



What They Say
It's time for the school festival, where each club gets a chance to show their stuff to the entire school. The Magic User's Club is no exception, but they do have one complication. They're not allowed to let anyone see their magic!

Sae decides that Tarot reading is a good idea, because everyone will expect it to be just a trick. Unfortunately, things don't go as planned and the Magic Club ends up strutting their stuff in auditions for the drama club instead.

Then, Sae spots the mysterious sprite-like person who's been appearing when her magic backfires. This person has come to see her, and teach her about a new kind of magic. It's the magic of a first kiss!

The Review!
The penultimate installment of Magic Users Club starts bringing some of the errant threads of the series together and actually makes you feel like you’re watching something moving forward as opposed to just spinning in very lovely circles.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Throughout the show we got a solid presentation across the forward soundstage. Dialogue is primarily through the center channel, though there did seem to be a couple of nice moments of directionality. Music and sound effects made good use of the left/right channels and the overall presentation is on par for what you'd expect with a TV series.

Video:
The transfer for this volume continues to provide a great looking disc for the most part by showing off some great looking animation. The shows production values still look as if they haven’t dropped at all. The animations colors are spot on and though there is a feeling of softness, it continues to look to be very much by design. Some of the CG looks like it stands out a bit much, but it seems to be free of cross coloration. Some of the regular animation though has some evidence of it scattered throughout the three episodes, but it’s not too major.

Packaging:
The cover for this volume does continue the overall style of the series with its white keepcase and the very detailed border edges. The cast pictures within feature everyone from their cultural festival and look nice and vibrant. There’s lots of little background bits here that help flesh it out nicely. The back cover features a variety of animation shots and a brief summary of the episodes inside. Disc features and the episode number range is listed here as well as the usual production information. The insert takes the base design of the cover borders and replaces the character designs with chapter stops.

Menus:
The menu layout is pretty similar to the past releases, with a nice bright vibrant image of the girls and the symbols floating around screen along with some music. Selections are all along the right and quickly accessed as there's no transition animations. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is pretty straightforward and works well.

Extras:
The extras this time are pretty good, with the slates included as well as five minutes of outtakes. These outtakes continue to be hilarious as the actors seem to be taking time to actually have fun with it as opposed to just messing up on name pronunciations. So many segments here just had us rolling on the floor laughing and changed how we watched the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There’s a lot of good stuff on this installment of the series as we move up into the second half of the TV series. The big focus, though it’s really only one of the three episodes, it’s the cultural festival that leaves the longest and biggest impression. Cultural festivals are something we’ve seen in anime shows since as far back as Urusei Yatsura and they always seem to provide an interesting backdrop for the characters and gives them a chance to highlight their real world skills and a chance to dress up as well. This episode is really no different in that respect.

The Magic Users Club is set to roll with fortune telling and have their schedule all set with Sae to start things up with the deck of cards. She’s very much the attentive person for this and in trying to put the club in its best and most positive light. Unfortunately, for quite awhile, nobody even shows up and even Takakura is nowhere to be seen. He’s off fighting his battle against The Breasts and her continual thwarting of the club. He spends a good part of the episode dealing with her and her rules and ends up switching off with other club members, who also swap off with each other, which in the end leaves Sae there almost the entire day.

But things take an odd turn after the mysterious blonde person from past episodes arrives in the club room and encourages Sae to do more magic. Much of what this person talks about throughout the episodes focuses on this aspect of magic, about the necessity of doing more for fun and because it can be done. Something makes me feel like he’s really a personification of magic and is encouraging its true rebirth in the world. As we get to know him more as an individual and “student” in the later two episodes, he really does come across more and more as an enigma as opposed to learning more about him.

There’s also an interesting moment later in the disc as the group all goes their separate was for a short time with Sae off in Hokkaido with her sister to be with their parents, as their cousin is getting married. This leaves Nanaka sort of listless and unsure about everything. Takakura seems unapproachable as he delves into his books and Aburatsubo gives in to spending time with his mother and therefore offscreen. The majority of the episode deals with Sae though and her being away from everyone and back into the real nature of the world. This provides one of the best sequences of the series so far, where she actually lets go, smiles and just flies through the countryside as it snows. Very beautifully done and very much something we needed to see from Sae.

These episodes have a lot of underlying things going on with the blonde boy and his insertion into the lives of the members of the Club. With only three episodes left to further things with him and explain it all, I’m unsure if it can be really pulled off well, but I’m hopeful that things will be done well. The series has done a good job of being slice-of-life at times and moving at its own slow pace, but there feels like there’s a lot to be resolved with little time left.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,Slates,Outtakes

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: A
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Media Blasters
MSRP: 24.95
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Magic User's Club