Melty Lancer Vol. #1: Alpha (of 2) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, February 04, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, January 28, 2003
What They Say
Based on the best selling Playstation video game in Japan and one of the first animated projects by GONZO (Blue Submarine No.6, Vandred, and Hellsing).
The Galaxy Police Organization has battled intergalactic terrorism for years! Finally achieving peace in the universe, the world was finally deemed safe... until a new alien criminal menace appeared! Answering the call of duty a group of six specially trained officers have been organized. Codenamed: Melty Lancers! The face of justice just got cuter!
Back in the early days of Gonzo when they were doing some OVA’s while preparing their numerous TV series, Melty Lancer was born, based off of a video game by the same name.
Since we’re not keen on dubs, we watched this one in Japanese first on our main setup. The show has a decent stereo mix which the music is the only area that really takes advantage of it. From the sound in the menus to the audio throughout the program, it’s a solid mix. Dialogue was nice and clear and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions. We did listen to the dub while writing the review and found no issues there either.
Originally released back in 1999, the show was a real stunner then with its high quality OVA animation. It really shines through here in this transfer which is the main highlight of the disc. Colors are gorgeous, aliasing is non-existent and cross coloration shows up only briefly in one or two scenes. Even when they play some camera tricks of doing a lot of shaking for the storyline, the image is wonderfully vivid and sharp. As with most recent Bandai offerings, the opening and ending credits for each episode are untouched and the credits play following the final episode in translated form against a black background.
Bandai decided to try the same foil style covers they use for Betterman for this release, which means that the front cover is very shiny as the all-female crew has lots of bright colors on them that manipulate it well, especially with as much dark as there is surrounding them. The back cover provides a number of small screenshots of the show and a good couple of paragraphs of story summary. The extras are clearly listed (and accurate) and there’s the usual listings of basic production and technical credits. Surprisingly, the insert uses the foil paper as well and has a different image of the girls on the front. It opens to talk about three of the characters, while the back cover has the full production credits list as well as complete bilingual actor lists.
The menu setup here is really nice and eye-catching, even with it playing a lot of animation form the show in the background. The layout is done up in a similar style to the computer screens in the show with a section devoted to part of the show playing while a portion of the opening song plays. Submenus are nice and quick to load even with the minor animated transition screens and access times are nice and fast.
The first volume here has a good amount of extra content. The opening and ending sequence come in textless form here. There’s a couple minutes of the “special clip” which is what appears to be the opening sequence to the Konami game, as it’s a mesh of CG and anime, but none of the characters speak except for the last one to appear. There’s also a useful glossary section and a mechanical manual for those so inclined to check out.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
For a number of people, the dreaded game to anime conversion process is enough to scare you away from here. Add in that a lot of it doesn’t make sense easily if you don’t read the glossary first (or are familiar with the game world) will make another set of people uneasy about the title. Then realize that it’s basic premise is a group of women cops in the future trying to deal with some big bad vain evil, well, then you count the number of times you’ve seen it before.
Melty Lancer is an exercise in form without creativity. That’s not to say it isn’t pretty to look at, but the core of this is something that you can imagine them teaching in anime school: script 101. You have to write it sometime, but you shouldn’t actually put money into it. Unless you can back it up with a built-in audience. Hence the game.
The story of Melty Lancer is a futuristic show that has a very different world and galaxy than we know now. Earth has suffered a variety of environmental catastrophes and now has a variety of large mobile metropolis’ around the globe. There’s a lot of colonies and other worlds that are in habited by humanity as well. But there’s also a group that’s trying to take it over, and they’re known as the Vanessers. Lead by a brilliant but vain young woman named Vanessa, along with two grumpy men with minimal screen time, they run various plans to take over the galaxy and rule with style. Often, their attacks are just bizarre.
They’re not exactly new on the block though. And at least outright, they’re not why the Melty Lancer group is brought together. We’re introduced early on to a scruffy prisoner named Collins. His past is a mystery, but a large multiplanetarynational decides they can use him to their ends and offer him the job of maintaining a group of Lancers, your basic cops of the future. They have their own plans, and after rotting in prison for awhile, well, how can he refuse? So he gets into that mode while the higher-ups begin to draft in the group of six women that will make up the group.
Then they promptly base them in the lowest level of the Eastern Metropolis and keep them from investigating a group of criminals called Defiant who seem to be well funded from another group. Lots of trouble is caused by them, and at least one of the new Lancer’s has an existing grudge against them. I’d go into the various Lancers, but they’re just basic character archetypes with very little personality. Half the time I thought I was watching Burn Up 2300 or something similar to it.
That’s not to say the characters aren’t good looking. The designs are fantastic, though with that edge of familiarity, almost like you can see them copping shows like Burn Up and Tenchi Muyo for the basics. With six of them, plus their hapless assistant who is trying to get the station running and a commander who doesn’t seem to really care about much, you’ve got a full cast going here. In the first three episodes, we only scratch the surface about a few of them. The glossary ends up giving away more useful information than the show does at several points.
Visually though, the show is a stunner. There’s no lack of effort in the quality department there, and it’s a shame that Gonzo ended up applying their skills to such a show. It was pretty hard to turn away from the picture as there’s just such an attention to detail in a lot of areas combined with the lush colors and the great character designs. When it comes to shows based on games, I always feel like there’s something I’m missing, and Melty Lancer is no different. Those who are fans will definitely love this entire package, but others will likely lament the time spent with it.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Textless Ending,Special Clip,Glossary,Mechnical Manual
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: D+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Melty Lancer