Steel Angel Kurumi Vol. #4 (of 5) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, August 24, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, October 08, 2002
What They Say
Now that the Steel Angels have found the powerful Academy, they plan a daring break-in to save Nakahito, who is being pressured by the mysterious Mikhail to betray Kurumi. Unfortunately, the Academy is aware of their every move, and they successfully succeed in dividing and conquering the group. Saki and Karinka are trapped within a powerful force field. Dr. Amagi is captured by the Academy scientists. And when Nakahito makes his stand, he inadvertently activates Kurumi's greatest threat. Now Kurumi must face her most powerful foe-a ruthless killing machine that has the same supercharged Mark II Angel Heart that Kurumi has. Will Kurumi's better nature win out? Or will her dark side get the better of her? Find out in the exciting conclusion to the most thrilling, action-packed anime smash of the year!
At the opening of this series, I wasn’t all that enthralled as it did the whole maids and robots kind of thing, even though it was one of the first. At the end of the series, I’m finding it to be a very heartwarming series that almost doubles as a childrens bedtime story.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The show features a good stereo mix that makes good use of the forward soundstage with a few instances of directionality, but overall it sort of takes over the entire soundstage throughout most of it. Dialogue is nice and clear and we noted no dropouts or distortions. We did listen to a good portion of the English dub track and noticed no issues with that either.
The final transfer here manages to maintain the same level of cross coloration as the previous volume, though I think it manages to reduce it a slight bit more towards later episodes. It’s simply nowhere near as bothersome as it was on the first volume was. The transfers very vibrant color scheme used throughout, particularly in the opening sequence, looks fantastic here as well. Colors are nice and solid without any noticeable bleeding, aliasing is very minimal and black levels look good.
Continuing to use the Japanese artwork, albeit slightly modified to hide the nudity, the final piece is highly reminiscent of the first volume but with Kurumi’s hair being different for a very important reason. The back cover provides more of the front image and then goes into a lengthy piece on the show and the English voice talent behind it. Features are clearly listed as well as the production information. The discs volume number is also clearly listed on the spine, something of a rarity in general these days. The insert is a real treat though as it’s a full color Nakahito Fortune Teller cutout, the kind you made back in grade school that you write in and play with. For those not wanting to cut up the insert, a PDF version is provided on the disc.
Utilizing the front cover artwork for the main menu, we get a subtle but very gorgeous looking piece here. The gears in the background move along with the low music that’s playing that has a relaxing feel to it. Navigation is good in that you can jump right to any of the six episodes from here or move to the other menus for the various options and extras. Submenus are nicely done as well and access times are nice and fast.
With this final volume, there’s a great selection of extras for both sides of the language track. The Conversations with Angels piece concludes here with Claudia Black providing more material, since she can now talk about her character. Do not watch this first, it will spoil the show! The character bios section presents numerous pieces on a good number of the characters. The travelogue highlights the various areas the characters travel to throughout the show while the production sketches showcase some more of the black and white artwork. The translators notes are a bit less this time around, but there’s less to cover in these episodes. The extended episode previews are here as well for these episodes and there’s information on the Nakahito fortune teller PDF.
Steel Angel Kurumi has had some of the best extras I’ve seen produced for a series yet, with massive amounts of interesting text pages that greatly enhanced the show. I wish more shows got this kind of loving treatment.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
These final episodes are very intense ones, with the energy that was built up towards the end of the third volume going full force here. With this in mind, the majority of this content review will be rather spoiler intensive. There’s just no way around it.
After all the revelations of the Academy and what Ayonokoji was up to with his creation of the Mark II version of the Angel Heart, the Academy has things going very much in their direction. Nakahito is firmly under their control, and all that needs to be done now is to eliminate Kurumi so she doesn’t adversely affect a war that’s going on several hundred years into the future. Simple stuff.
Naturally, with Nakahito being captured, the three girls along with Amagi are heading to where the Academy city resides, floating over the clouds. It’s a rather impressive structure, and there’s some genuine awe in the eyes of the people who’ve never seen it until now. While the government girls make it so that Amagi and the Angels can land, they don’t stick around long and instead head off to get reinforcements. This is pretty much the end of their usefulness though, and I wish they had had better roles in the show. But the focus is now on the finding of Nakahito.
And poor Nakahito. He’s having it very rough with his time spent here in the Academy. Mikhail tells him about Kurumi’s true form and what kind of problems she has the potential to cause in the future. Nakahito initially tries to think of ways to help Kurumi deal with things, but Mikhail is quite insistent that termination is the only way to be safe. Ayanokoji went too far with what he did and has caused the entire world to be in jeopardy because of it. But now with Kurumi and her friends inside the Academy and defeating the traps laid for them, Mikhail plays his next card.
And it’s a doozy. Mikhail isn’t exactly what he seems, in that he’s really a she and she’s really a Mark II Steel Angel as well. With this revealed, the show moves more towards continual combat between Kurumi and Mikhail, until Kurumi begins to exhibit her Demonkind side, something which only happens when Angel fights Angel. These are devastating moments as we see the real light in Kurumi’s eyes dim and the dark side of her nature taking over and wreaking havoc.
Timeline’s really screwed up after this one folks.
The way these final episodes play out is almost enchanting. It’s very obvious how the day will be saved, and it pretty much feels and is told as if it’s coming out of a children’s storybook. When Nakahito breaks free from everyone and goes to try and save Kurumi, my two year old was intensely fascinated by this. While the emotions aren’t ragingly strong here, they do exist, and she was very drawn to the simple tears of the characters. The scenes are so perfectly animated with only what matters being drawn there, it adds a great level of drama. I was extremely happy with the way these final episodes played out.
We also took in parts of the later episodes in the English dub, mainly due to my wife’s interest in seeing how Claudia Black played out her part as Mikhail in the Angel form. While I’m not the biggest fan of Foster’s adaptations, as there are lines that just don’t conform well with what’s in the subs, he does get excellent performances out of the actors, and Claudia is no exception. Her voice isn’t a direct match of the Japanese portrayal, but it works just as well and adds an interesting twist to it with her accent.
I had little expectations for Steel Angel Kurumi going into it, with its entire maid and robots deal. At the end of it, I’m definitely a fan of it now and am looking forward to seeing more of it in the future. The show initially had some problems dealing with the short running times, but manages to really nail down the pacing problems and gets it to play out very well later on. These final episodes are spot on for pacing and direction. This is some good stuff.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Conversations with Angels Part II,Character Bios,A Kurumi Travelogue,Production Sketches,Translator Notes,Extended Episode Previews,Nakahito Fortune Teller (DVD-Rom)
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: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Steel Angel Kurumi