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

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, May 03, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, April 30, 2002



What They Say
Jinno has become a member of the Magic User's Club, and he wastes no time making himself at home. He quickly gains the confidence of each member, confronting Nanaka, Aburatsubo and Takeo about their unrequited loves.

Akane may not have such feelings, but when Jinno works his magic on her own confused and selfish desires, things really get out of hand. The entire club must overcome their confusion and join forces, before Akane's wild magic threatens the entire city of Tokyo!

The Review!
The final volume of the TV series continuation of the Magic Users Club arrives and begs the question; did anything really happen here?

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:
For the most part, things are pretty decent here with the transfer. Colors look good and there’s nothing noticeable in terms of background macroblocking. There’s more cross coloration than usual, with a good segment of it attributed to the scenes where all we see are the tight line work of manga drawings. The transfer overall is pretty comparable to the past TV series releases.

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 in a Christmas mode with Takeo being Santa. Of course, there are no Christmas episodes inside. 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.

Menu:
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 two usual suspects are here for the extras, with slates and outtakes. There were some good chuckles from the outtakes, but the second volume so far takes the cake for outtakes that just had us out and out in tears. The ones for Magic Users Club in general have been among the best.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Things start moving towards their conclusion with these final three episodes. Jinno is the primary focus as he/she moves into the lives of each of the Club members and begins nudging at their desires, trying to get them to exert their magic to do what it is they want in their hearts to do. This can have pretty varying effects depending on the person. When Aikawa ends up under Jinno’s influence, she ends up merging with a Christmas poster of herself and becoming a hundred foot Aikawa instead. This presents its own set of troubles when she starts strolling down the main streets in a daze, essentially showing her magic to the world.

One aspect that plays out through these episodes is the relationship between Takeo and the manga queen, Miuhara. Though there’s always been the underpinnings of a relationship there with some flashbacks to give the possibility of more, it was interesting to see how things looked when you see it through her own eyes, especially in regards to the manga for her club. With Takeo actually standing up to her, it provided some much needed backbone for the character and helped to bring both sides up beyond what they were for the previous episodes.

Micky also finally gets some serious screen time with a deus ex machina reason. She knows what Jinno is really all about and has flown in from England where she and her powerful sorcerer father live to help Sae as she sensed things were going the wrong way based on the letters she keeps getting from Sae. She ends up taking on Jinno is some flashy battles through the city that gets tied up with everyone else in the club. While it’s got a real nice fun factor to it, especially after all the episodes of so little happening, it just feels so out of place to have someone whisk in and provide some answers and then whisk out.

In the end though, it’s all about the relationships between these characters. On the plus side, at the end of the story, none are like they were when we first met them. That in itself is good storytelling and something that’s actually fairly rare in most media, anime included. Everyone has grown in some way, some better than others, but everyone has learned from those around them. This is something that came about during all of the episodes and wasn’t rushed and crammed into the last five minutes. On the downside, it made for some unexciting anime at times with episodes that just felt like they went on and on and on…

While I won’t say I cared for how the resolution of Jinno went, as well as its origins, I will say I’m more disappointed that they left so many other things dangling, particularly about the Bell and what the entire OVA was about really. Magic Users Club was a good series to watch, but I don’t think it has much repeat value. The adventures of Sae and the group was one of the more subtle and almost somber feeling shows I’ve seen, a show that definitely fit into the different category without being out in left field.

Features
Japanese Language,English Languge,English Subtitles,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: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
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